N.F.L. Fines Snyder $60 Million for Sexual Harassment and Withholding Revenue

N.F.L. Fines Snyder $60 Million for Sexual Harassment and Withholding Revenue

Daniel Snyder was fined $60 million, by far the largest penalty ever levied against an N.F.L. team owner, after he was found to have sexually harassed a woman who was both a former cheerleader and a marketing employee for the Washington Commanders.

A league-sponsored investigation released Thursday found credible claims made by Tiffani Johnston, the former team employee, who said that Snyder put his hand on her thigh without her consent at a work dinner in 2005 or 2006, and that he later attempted to push her toward the back seat of his car after the event. According to the report, her account was supported by evidence and contemporaneous witnesses.

The findings were reported by Mary Jo White, a former federal prosecutor and chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, who spent 17 months looking into allegations of widespread sexual harassment against executives at the team, including Snyder, as well as claims of financial improprieties.

The N.F.L. released White’s report immediately after the 31 other clubs unanimously approved the sale of the Commanders to an investment group led by Josh Harris for $6.05 billion, a record for an American pro sports team.

“The conduct substantiated in Ms. White’s findings has no place in the N.F.L.,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “We strive for workplaces that are safe, respectful and professional. What Ms. Johnston experienced is inappropriate and contrary to the N.F.L.’s values.”

White’s report also substantiated claims made by a former Washington ticket executive, Jason Friedman, who said the team had intentionally shielded and withheld revenues that were intended to be shared among the league’s 32 teams. According to the report, about $11 million in shareable revenues were confirmed to have been improperly withheld.

The investigators wrote that they could neither conclude nor rule out that Snyder had directed or participated in this revenue-shielding, but that “at a minimum, he was aware of certain efforts to minimize revenue sharing.”

Johnston and Friedman made those allegations in early 2022 as part of a congressional inquiry prompted by the league’s refusal to release the details of its first investigation into workplace harassment claims at the team in 2021.

“Dan Snyder has been forced to sell the team he said he would never sell, pay a massive fine to the N.F.L. and there now exists an extensive public record of his personal wrongdoing and the misconduct that occurred under his leadership,” Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, the lawyers representing more than 40 former Commanders employees who spoke out about workplace misconduct, including Johnston and Friedman, said in a statement.

Asked to clarify how the league determined the amount of Snyder’s fine, Goodell responded, “It was a resolution of all the outstanding matters including Mary Jo White’s findings. It was something that the finance committee considered, recommended unanimously and the membership accepted unanimously.”

Though the investigators spoke with 44 witnesses, including former employees whom the team released from nondisclosure agreements, and reviewed tens of thousands of documents made available by the Commanders, Snyder was also penalized for failing to fully cooperate in their inquiry.

He refused for nearly a year to speak with White, and, when he finally did, he met for only one hour to deny the allegations of sexual harassment. He also said he had “little knowledge or recollection of any substantive information relevant to the financial issues.”

White said the team for many months did not produce documents to explain why it had moved millions of dollars from accounts with shared N.F.L. revenue to other accounts.

The Commanders deliberately violated the league’s revenue-sharing rules via practices that included improperly classifying revenue from N.F.L. games as coming from other special events, as well as reporting falsely lowered ticket prices to the league, the report said.

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