Outgoing Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson has been fined $2.75 million by the NFL after an investigation into sexual and racial misconduct in the workplace, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced Thursday.
The independent investigation, conducted by former U.S. attorney Mary Jo White, substantiated the allegations against Richardson. It also stated that the team failed to report the allegations or any resolution agreements to the league.
The NFL, in a statement, said most of the money from the fine will be "used to support the work of organizations dedicated to addressing race and gender-based issues in and outside of the workplace."
The Panthers initiated an investigation into Richardson on Dec. 15 and informed the league of what was taking place. The NFL took over the investigation two days later when Sports Illustrated published a story in which four former employees anonymously stated they reached a financial settlement with Richardson in exchange for silence.
Richardson, 81, announced shortly after the NFL took charge of the investigation that he planned to sell the team that he and investors paid $206 million for in 1993. He also stepped away from the day-to-day operations, naming Tina Becker the new COO.
The allegations against Richardson included three cases of sexual harassment and the use of a racial slur toward a team scout. None of the employees remain with the organization.
In a letter to Richardson published by SI, one of the women said she "didn't know what to do" about alleged multiple sexual advances by the Panthers owner.
"I didn't know what to do when you called me to your stadium suite in the middle of the week so you could take off my shoes, place my legs in your lap and rub their entire length, from toes to crotch," the woman wrote in the letter. "I didn't know what to do when you asked me to turn around so you could see how my jeans looked. I didn't know what to do when you brushed my breasts to put my seat belt around me in the front seat of your car. I didn't know what to do when you put your hands on my mouth, for me to kiss them. I didn't know what to do when you asked me uncomfortable, sexually charged questions.
"I didn't know what to do. So, I did what you told me to do.''
The sale of the Panthers to hedge fund billionaire David Tepper was approved at the owners meetings in May for an NFL-record $2.275 billion and is expected to close in the next two weeks, the league said. Tepper was briefed separately about the results of the investigation by White.
Richardson's final act as an owner came at the May meetings in Atlanta when he cast his vote for Tepper.
Coach Ron Rivera declined to comment Thursday on Richardson's fine when reached by The Associated Press. General manager Marty Hurney did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
In her findings, White recommended the league prohibit nondisclosure agreements to limit the reporting of potential violations or cooperation with league investigations, require workplace misconduct claims to be reported to the league office, establish a confidential hotline for league and team employees to report workplace conduct issues and review policies and procedures with owners, team counsel and human resource executives.
The NFL said the recommendations will be presented to the league's Conduct Committee before the coming season.
"The findings and recommendations that I have shared with the Commissioner are the product of an extensive review, including interviews with club executives, current and former employees, analysis of documents, electronic records, and other sources of information," White said in a statement. "I particularly appreciate the work of the club employees in assessing the need for enhancing the club's workplace policies, procedures, and training and implementing appropriate changes."
The man known as "Big Cat'' to his players and many in the Carolinas saw the Panthers reach the Super Bowl twice -- after the 2003 and 2015 seasons -- and has been one of the most powerful owners in the league.
He chaired the stadium committee, co-chaired the committee to select Goodell as NFL commissioner and headed the effort to negotiate the current collective bargain agreement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.