Suns president and CEO Welts resigns
Phoenix Suns president and CEO Rick Welts, who earlier this year revealed he was gay, said Friday he is resigning.
“I’m at a point in my life where my focus is to align my personal and professional life in a way I’ve never been able to achieve before,” Welts said in a statement. “The most important people in my personal life are not in Phoenix, and the Suns have been completely understanding and supportive of my request to leave in advance of the end of my contract.”
AZCentral.com reported that Welts is resigning to be with his partner in Sacramento, Calif. Welts told the website that he was not pressured in any way to leave the team because of his sexuality.
“These guys have been tremendously accommodating and any other inference than that is absolutely crazy,” he said.
The resignation becomes effective Thursday. Suns owner Robert Sarver announced that the team’s business organization will report to General Counsel Jason Rowley and a national search for a new president will be launched.
While (Rick) will be missed, we understand his desire to relocate outside of Arizona for personal reasons,” Sarver said in a statement.
Welts spent 17 years in the NBA office and became Suns president in 2002.
On May 15, Welts revealed his sexuality in the New York Times. He said he spoke separately with NBA commissioner David Stern, Suns star guard Steve Nash and Hall of Famer Bill Russell before making the revelation.
Welts chose to reveal that he was gay shortly after superstar Kobe Bryant used a gay slur to disparage a referee during a game. Welts hoped that by coming out, he would make it easier for other gays to pursue careers in sports.