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NFL approves sale of Washington Commanders and levies $60 million fine on ex-owner

<i>Nick Wass/AP/File</i><br/>FedEx Field
Nick Wass/AP/File
FedEx Field

By David Close, CNN

(CNN) — The Washington Commanders will have a new ownership group as the team’s previous owner faces a $60 million fine from the league following an independent investigation finding workplace misconduct and financial improprieties.

On Thursday, all 32 NFL owners voted to approve the sale of the franchise to a group led by billionaire Josh Harris, the co-founder of Apollo Global Management. Harris is also the majority owner of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and co-owns the NHL’s New Jersey Devils. The Commanders’ new ownership group includes Basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson and billionaire Mitch Rales, Harris’ longtime sports business partner.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell congratulated Harris and his partners after the unanimous vote.

“Josh will be a great addition to the NFL. He has a remarkable record in business, sports, and in his communities. The diverse group that Josh has put together is outstanding for its business acumen and strong Washington ties and we welcome them to the NFL as well,” Goodell said.

The Wall Street Journal reported the deal is worth about $6 billion.

The approved sale brings closure to the tumultuous Daniel Snyder-led era.

Snyder and his wife Tanya first purchased the team for a reported $750 million in 1999. On the field, the team struggled throughout the Snyder era — making the playoffs just six times in 24 seasons and no Super Bowl appearances.

Snyder faces a $60 million fine

The deal comes the same day that the league announced it has fined former Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder $60 million following the release of an independent investigation, which found workplace misconduct and financial improprieties while Snyder owned the team. The investigation was led by former Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairwoman Mary Jo White.

In April 2022, the NFL hired White to investigate an allegation of sexual harassment against Snyder by former employee Tiffani Johnston, a former cheerleader and marketing manager for the team. Johnston told a congressional committee that the Commanders owner had put his hand on her leg under the table at a work dinner and tried to persuade her to get into his limousine.

The investigation corroborated the complaints.

“The conduct substantiated in Ms. White’s findings has no place in the NFL,” a statement from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stated. “We strive for workplaces that are safe, respectful and professional. What Ms. Johnston experienced is inappropriate and contrary to the NFL’s values.”

Snyder has previously denied Johnston’s allegations. CNN has reached out to Snyder for comment.

The 22-page report also outlined financial improprieties at the club — intentionally underreporting “approximately $11 million in revenues.”

Thursday’s league statement said White and her team interviewed “dozens of witnesses, sometimes on multiple occasions” and reviewed “over 10,000 documents.”

The report stated, “Mr. Snyder failed to cooperate with the Investigation despite their public commitments to do so and a late effort to persuade the Investigators to reach different conclusions. At every turn, the Club and Mr. Snyder have complained about the burden and cost of searching for and producing materials responsive to our requests.”

At the NFL owners meeting in Minnesota on Thursday, Goodell said, “We shared those (the investigation findings) with the ownership today. (We) had a full discussion of that. The findings do speak for themselves. … It doesn’t match our backing values.”

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