NBPA inquiry released, Hunter’s job questioned
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter did not “engage in criminal acts involving embezzlement of theft of Union funds,” according to an independent inquiry into the NBPA conducted by Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.
However, the inquiry, led by high-profile attorney Theodore Wells, concluded that, “Based on the findings of this report, the NBPA should consider whether Mr. Hunter should remain as the Union’s Executive Director.”
The report said, “In our judgment, the facts do show that, at times, Mr. Hunter’s actions were inconsistent with his fiduciary obligations to put the interests of the Union above his personal interests. Further, Mr. Hunter did not properly manage conflicts of interest.
“We also find that the NBPA’s Board of Player Representatives never properly approved Mr. Hunter’s current employment contract with the Union as required by the Union’s Constitution and By-Laws, that Mr. Hunter was aware that his current contract was never properly approved and that he knowingly failed to disclose this information to the Executive Committee and the Player Representatives.”
That 2010 contract agreement was for $3 million a year for at least four years, starting in 2011, according to the report. From July 1, 2011-June 30, 2012, Hunter was paid $3 million, $600,000 — or 25% — raise over the previous year, according to NBPA documents filed in September with the U.S. Labor Department.
The NBPA announced on April 27 it would conduct an internal inquiry that would include a financial audit. The union retained Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP to serve as the independent investigator. That same day, the NBPA acknowledged that it received a subpoena for documents from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan.
The investigations stem from a fallout between Hunter and executive committee president Derek Fisher, who called for a “review of the business practices and finances,” in part because of NBPA business relations with members of Hunter’s family, including his son, two daughters, and daughter-in-law.
Fisher was met with resistance the NBPA, and the NBPA executive committee made up of nine players voted 8-0 that it “lost confidence in Derek Fisher’s ability to act as Union … [For more on Inquiry into NBPA released, Hunter's job questioned, click here.]