The sale of the Carolina Panthers from founder Jerry Richardson to new owner David Tepper is complete, the team announced on Monday.
Tepper, 60, was approved unanimously as the team’s new owner at the league’s meetings in May. The founder of hedge fund Appaloosa Management L.P., he has a net worth estimated by Forbes at $11 billion and bought the Panthers for $2.275 billion, the largest sum ever paid for an NFL franchise.
“I am thrilled to begin this new era of Carolina Panthers football and am humbled by the overwhelming excitement and support for the team,” Tepper said in a statement. “On behalf of the fans and myself, I thank Jerry Richardson for bringing the team to the Carolinas and for entrusting me with its future. Winning is the most important thing both on the field and in the community, and I am committed to winning a Super Bowl championship together. I look forward to being part of the Panthers’ family and to supporting this flourishing region.”
A former Pittsburgh Steelers minority owner, Tepper was required to sell the 5 percent stake that he owns in the Steelers, per NFL rules. He emphasized his desire to win and his plan to keep the team in Charlotte when he was introduced after his approval in May.
The team also announced Monday the resignation of chief operating officer Tina Becker, who worked for the Panthers for 19 seasons and ran the club since December, after Richardson stepped away.
Richardson put the team up for sale and removed himself from day-to-day operations shortly after a Sports Illustrated report in December alleged the Panthers reached financial settlements with four former employees as a result of Richardson’s workplace misconduct, including sexual harassment of multiple women and the use of a racial slur toward a scout.
The NFL fined Richardson $2.75 million last month after those claims were substantiated by an investigation led by former U.S. Attorney and SEC Chairman Mary Jo White, which lasted more than six months.
Richardson, who turns 82 on July 18, founded the team in 1993, becoming the first former NFL player since George Halas to own an NFL team. His tenure was the ninth-longest in the league among active owners.
He released a letter on Monday following the announcement of the sale becoming official. It reads:
“Rosalind (his wife) and I want to express our appreciate to all of you for creating such a powerful, passionate fan experience for the past 23 seasons.
“We are grateful to the Carolina community for the love and support you have shown your Panthers. Your enthusiasm for football and devotion to the team has been a source of strength for us and for everyone who calls the Carolinas home.
“We also want to thank the Panthers organization for delivering great football and a great fan experience, week after week, for almost a quarter-century. Your hard work and dedication has not gone unnoticed. you have made a measureable difference and you make us proud.
“It’s been almost 60 years since I last took the field, and I know how tough it is to play the game. I have the highest respect for the men who wear the Panthers jersey. You inspire me every week with your commitment and your determination to win. I will always be your Number One fan.
“I wish Mr. Tepper all the best; the team is in good hands. The stadium is a wonderful place to watch a game with friends and family. Carolina is and will be a contender. From the thousands of people who come every year to training camp to the millions of fans who come to the stadium or follow the team every day, we thank you for making a home for Panthers football in your hearts.
–Field Level Media