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News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)
CHARLOTTE — The David Tepper era of the Carolina Panthers organization has begun.
The $2.275-billion sale of the franchise to Tepper was made official Monday, the team announced.
"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 (former owner and founder) Jerry Richardson for bringing the team to the Carolinas and for entrusting me with its future.
"Winning is the most important thing both on and off 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."
Tepper, 60, is the founder and CEO of global hedge fund Appaloosa Management, and has a net worth of over $11 billion according to a 2017 Forbes assessment.
A Pittsburgh native, he was also formerly a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise, but had to sell his 5 percent stake before becoming the Panthers' owner.
The team was put up for sale in December by Richardson, following allegations of workplace misconduct against Richardson that launched an NFL investigation into the organization.
Tepper beat out multiple bidders over a nearly six-month process with a cash bid of $2.2 billion (the bid totaled $2.275 billion), and was approved unanimously by the NFL's 31 other owners at the league meetings in Atlanta in May.
Tepper said at his introductory press conference during those meetings that the first, second and third things he cares about as the owner of the Panthers is "winning, on and off the field."
Now, more details about his plans for the franchise will take shape.
Tepper has pledged to keep the team in Charlotte, the city in which it was founded in 1993. The Panthers started play in 1995, with the inaugural season played in Clemson, S.C., and moved to its uptown Charlotte stadium in 1996.
Tepper also said he wants to continue to honor the Panthers' two-state fanbase. The Observer reported in June that the team could build a state-of-the-art mixed-use practice facility on either side of the state line.
It is unclear what Tepper's immediate plans for minority partnership are, though he did say he saw the benefits of having minority partners and will consider groups with local ties.
It is additionally unclear how many people on the Panthers' staff will be retained.
Less than 30 minutes after the announcement that the sale had been finalized, chief operating officer Tina Becker announced her resignation.
Becker, a 19-year Panthers employee, was promoted to the position the day after Richardson announced he'd be stepping away from day-to-day team operations and selling the franchise.
Other than a brief question-and-answer segment with the team's website, Becker did not publicly address media during her short time in the position and did not comment on the allegations against Richardson, the sale or the investigation.
The team is also with out a president, following the resignation of Danny Morrison in spring of 2017.
Tepper has already evaluated the football operations staff, including head coach Ron Rivera and general manager Marty Hurney, and was "incredibly impressed" according to CBS Sports' Jason LaCanfora.
Hurney and Rivera each has a contract that runs through the 2020 season.
The investigation into Richardson and the Panthers organization concluded in June, finding evidence that substantiated claims of workplace misconduct by Richardson. He was fined $2.75 million by the league.
According to a statement released by the NFL, Tepper was privately briefed on the details of the NFL's investigation. The investigation also found that the Panthers failed to report misconduct to the league's personal conduct committee, but found no evidence of misconduct from other organization employees.
Richardson has not publicly addressed the allegations or NFL investigation since the initial report in December.
After the team announced the finalization of the sale Monday, he released a statement that thanked the Carolina community for its support of the Panthers, the organization for providing a "great fan experience" and wished Tepper the best.
The statement did not address the reason for the sale, or the investigation and its findings.
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