Tennessee Titans Fined “A Lot” for Violations Regarding their Ownership Structure
Controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk and the Tennessee Titans franchise were hit with a large fine over the weekend for failure to resolve issues with their ownership structure. Although specifics on the fine have not been released, sources have described it as well into the six figures and “a lot.”
“We don’t think there’s anything wrong with our structure,” said Strunk Sunday after the Titans 16-15 comeback victory over the Detroit Lions. “So that’s where we differ.”
Unfortunately for Strunk, the only opinion that matters in this situation is the NFL’s.
While she may be the controlling owner, Amy does not own a majority stake in the team. Team patriarch and founder Bud Adams didn’t have a succession plan in place, and so his death split ownership five ways between Amy (33.3%), her sister Susie Adams Smith (33.3%), and the wife and two sons of Bud’s deceased son (11.1% each).
Under NFL rules, teams are required to have a majority owner who can represent them at all times. Roger Goodell originally addressed the situation at Super Bowl 50.
“We have ownership policies, the ownership policies are lengthy, but essentially, they require a single owner to represent the club locally, but also at the league level,” said Goodell. “We work on the basis of 32 individual owners, each having a vote. When league matters come up, whatever they may be, we work on a vote of 24 of the 32. It’s a very important principle to owners and their partners.”
Moving forward, the Titans will need to put forth a detailed plan regarding the ownership structure. In the meantime, however, the other 31 owners have complete confidence in Titans president and CEO Steve Underwood to keep things running smoothly. John Mara of the New York Giants said that he doesn’t consider it a “major issue.”
The question now is can the sisters figure this thing out without a lawsuit. The solution I see is one of them buying the other’s shares; however, that would require a large amount of liquid capital.
The sad reality of the situation is the Titans will likely hit the market. Bud Adams would roll over in his grave.