Former Time Warner Inc, chairman and CEO Dick Parsons has been named by the National Basketball Association as interim CEO of the troubled Los Angeles Clippers franchise, a team that has been rocked by the racist comments of its owner Donald Sterling.
Parsons, known for his diplomatic style and his penchant for smoothing over tense situations, retired from Time Warner in 2007. In 2009 the former banker became chairman of Citigroup, steering the financial services behemoth through the overall financial crisis before retiring in 2012.
Sterling received a lifetime ban from the NBA on April 29, was fined $2.5 million and has been ordered to sell the team after racists comments he made to his then mistress were made public. Sterling has said he will not sell the team, indicating that he is gearing up for a legal battle with the NBA.
The league said Tuesday that Clippers president Andy Roeser would take an indefinite leave of absence, clearing the path for a new CEO.
"I believe the hiring of Dick Parsons will bring extraordinary leadership and immediate stability to the Clippers organization," said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in a statement. "Dick's credentials as a proven chief executive speak for themselves and I am extremely grateful he accepted this responsibility."
Parsons currently served as a senior adviser to private equity giant Providence Equity Partners. A graduate of the University of Hawaii – where he played basketball – Parsons graduated from Albany Law School in 1971 and served as a staff lawyer for New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller. When Rockefeller was appointed Vice President of the United States, Parsons followed him to Washington and also served as an adviser to then President Gerald Ford.
"Like most Americans, I have been deeply troubled by the pain the Clippers' team, fans and partners have endured," Parsons said in a statement. "A lifelong fan of the NBA, I am firmly committed to the values and principles it is defending, and I completely support Adam's leadership in navigating the challenges facing the team and the league. The Clippers are a resilient organization with a brilliant coach and equally talented and dedicated athletes and staff who have demonstrated great strength of character during a time of adversity. I am honored to be asked to work with them, build on their values and accomplishments, and help them open a new, inspiring era for their team."
According to reports, Parsons is not expected to be involved in making basketball decisions for the team, which is currently in the second round of the NBA Playoffs.