NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that Beth Wilkinson is “nearing the completion of her phase of work” and will be sharing her findings on the investigation of the Washington Football Team over allegations of sexual harassment and mistreatment of female employees.
At his state-of-the-league news conference Thursday at the Super Bowl in Tampa, Goodell also said he hopes the dispute between Washington's majority owner Dan Snyder and the minority owners, who tried to sell their stake in the team, will be resolved “shortly.”
Goodell’s answer came in response to a question by the The Washington Post, where the original story about more than a dozen women who alleged sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace was reported in July. More women emerged after the original story with further allegations of sexual harassment.
“To me, the important thing in the context of this is that the Washington football club has made a lot of changes already,” Goodell said. “They asked for this type of review. They asked for the recommendations on this. Dan and Tanya (Snyder) are going to be done making those changes for the football club. It’s really...it’s good to see that. But I expect that Beth’s recommendations will be something that will be added to that.”
Wilkinson, the lawyer handling the investigation, has been looking into the Washington Football Team since July. She was chosen by Snyder to complete an unbiased, internal investigation of the franchise. The NFL took over Wilkinson’s investigation in August, according to The Washington Post, after Goodell and Snyder agreed it would be best for Wilkinson to report to the league instead of the Washington Football Team directly. Snyder was not implicated in the accusations of sexual misconduct directly.
Goodell said he has not met with Wilkinson yet, but will meet with her in the future to review her findings. Those findings will be shared with the Washington Football Team and “others," though Goodell did not clarify.
The Washington Post reported in late December that The Washington Football Team paid a former female employee a $1.6 million confidential settlement in 2009 after a sexual misconduct allegation against Snyder, which is also under Wilkinson’s review.
Goodell is hopeful that gets resolved shortly as well, and that the organization and all parties can move forward.
“As you know, that’s in arbitration,” he said. “I’m hopeful that that will get resolved shortly and that both parties or all parties can move forward and the Washington football club can continue to move forward.”
The team’s minority owners, Dwight Schar, Fred Smith and Robert Rothman, are attempting to sell their shares of the team, which amount to 40 percent combined. They are currently suing Snyder in order to do so. Snyder claimed in late December that he was being extorted by Schar and that Schar has threatened to release information if Snyder does not sell the franchise.
The arbitration has become more and more heated through the months and is something Goodell and the league would certainly like to have a resolution on sooner rather than later.