The Sixers on Wednesday morning announced CEO Scott O’Neil has “elected to step away from the organization in order to pursue new opportunities.”
O’Neil was with Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment for eight years. HBSE, which owns the Sixers and New Jersey Devils, grew its brand and sports team ownership during his time.
Sixers managing partner Josh Harris and co-managing partner David Blitzer founded HBSE and remain at the top of the Sixers organization.
“I would like to thank Josh Harris and David Blitzer for inspiring, engaging and empowering me to bring together the most talented executive team in sports and entertainment,” O’Neil said in a Sixers press release. “Josh and David are extraordinary leaders, partners and friends. Their commitment to our teams, brands, employees - and most importantly - their commitment to serving the City of Philadelphia, Newark and Camden - made our success together possible. To be trusted with the opportunity to steward epic brands - as well as buy, build, integrate, acquire, and grow complimentary businesses to create HBSE as it is today - has been the ride of a lifetime, one for which I am humbled and grateful.”
“HBSE is the best organization I have ever been a part of, with the highest degree of difficulty I have ever encountered, and the most fun I have ever had, because every day brought a new opportunity to learn and develop. This company has grown through a culture of extraordinary teammates willing to be innovative, having the discipline to do the work, and a courage to lead from the front. While I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of my time here, I am even more excited to build, grow, and drive my next platform.”
In his 2016 resignation letter, former Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie referred to O’Neil.
“With Scott O’Neil running our business operations, you are in good hands,” Hinkie wrote. “I can assure you that when your team is eventually able to compete deep into May, Scott will ably and efficiently separate the good people of the Delaware Valley from their wallets on your behalf. Worry not.”
The Sixers in February were valued at $2.075 billion, according to Forbes.
With the NBA season suspended last March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, O’Neil issued a statement after a report that the team would be instituting temporary salary cuts for full-time employees. O’Neil said the cuts were necessary to “ensure we can continue to support and operate our businesses during these uncertain times without reducing our workforce.”
The organization faced intense backlash for that decision. Harris soon reversed course and apologized to staff and fans for “getting this wrong.”
The Sixers release cites the team’s jersey patch sponsorship, construction of a new practice facility in Camden, New Jersey, and helping to form an “innovative and best-in-class workplace and workforce” as among O’Neil’s achievements with HBSE.