Panthers owner Richardson facing workplace misconduct allegations

Erskine Bowles, former head of the UNC system, will lead internal investigation

Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson (left) meets with New York Jets acting CEO Christopher Johnson before a game at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner / USA TODAY Sports)

The Carolina Panthers confirmed they are investigating owner Jerry Richardson for workplace misconduct, the latest from the sports world to be accused of improper behavior after Hollywood, politics and the news industry were all rocked by claims — mostly against men — of unacceptable abuses of power.

“The Carolina Panthers and Mr. Richardson take these allegations very seriously and are fully committed to a full investigation and taking appropriate steps to address and remediate any misconduct,” Panthers spokesman Steven Drummond said. “The entire organization is fully committed to ensuring a safe, comfortable and diverse work environment where all individuals, regardless of sex, race, color, religion, gender, or sexual identity or orientation, are treated fairly and equally. We have work to do to achieve this goal, but we are going to meet it.”

The investigation is being led by Greensboro native Erskine Bowles, the former White House chief of staff under Bill Clinton who also headed up the UNC system from 2005-10 and lost two races for North Carolina Senate seats, losing to incumbents Elizabeth Dole (2002) and Richard Burr (2004).

“Erskine Bowles is a trusted leader of unquestioned integrity. We look forward to this report, which we know will be honest and thorough,” Drummond said in the Panthers statement.

The team did not give further details or a timeline for the investigation.

Richardson, 81, brought the Panthers to Charlotte as an expansion team in 1993. He played for the Baltimore Colts in 1959-60 and became the first former NFL player since George Halas to own an NFL team when he was awarded an expansion franchise on Oct. 26, 1993.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera issued a statement to ESPN regarding the allegations:

“I have had a strong relationship with Mr. Richardson during my time with the Panthers,” Rivera said.“I have enormous respect for the man, but will wait for the results of the investigation before making any judgment.”

Reuters News Service contributed to this report