Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder will have to pay $60 million to the NFL in resolution after an investigation concluded the club improperly hid finances from the NFL and that Snyder inappropriately touched a former cheerleader from the organization, according to a report the league released Thursday.
“After extensive investigation, we have sustained both Tiffani Johnston’s allegation of sexual harassment by Mr. Snyder and Jason Friedman’s allegation of deliberate underreporting of NFL revenues by the Club to avoid its VTS sharing obligations,” the report stated.
The release of the report coincided with the sale of the Commanders, which was approved by league owners on Thursday.
“Documentary evidence, witness interviews, and Club admissions all corroborated Mr. Friedman’s allegations that the Club intentionally shielded and withheld shareable NFL revenues,” the report stated.
Snyder and the club have denied any wrongdoing.
The report outlined a pattern of deliberate steps investigators determined the Commanders took to conceal revenue from the NFL.
“Although Mr. Snyder denied it, multiple witnesses informed us that Mr. Snyder pressured employees to improve the Club’s financial performance (‘every last dollar’ matters) and the evidence shows that, as one way of achieving higher revenues and lower costs, the Club, during the 2009–2015 seasons, wrongfully violated the sharing rules in order to retain greater amounts of shareable revenues through ‘VTS savings,'” the report read.
The report was put together after an investigation by Mary Jo White, a former U.S. attorney and SEC chair, who was retained by the league to investigate the alleged misgivings with the Commanders. White and her team interviewed 44 witnesses, including former executives. They reviewed tens of thousands of documents, including emails, text messages and calendars, and had access to club contracts and financial records. They used a forensics accounting firm to help review the financial allegations.
The Commanders, according to the report, had a “second set of books” in which they would keep records that only went to Snyder. The report found the Commanders concealed more than $45 million in revenue sharing.
Snyder failed to cooperate with any portion of the investigation and in the case of the missing funds, did not try to produce any records.
Investigators concluded allegations that Snyder inappropriately touched a former cheerleader at a dinner and that he also tried to push her in his limo were also sustainable.
“We credit Ms. Johnston’s account that Mr. Snyder put his hand on her thigh under the restaurant table (which she removed without comment) and pushed her towards his car after a work-related dinner, and that Ms. Johnston did not consent, in any way, to Mr. Snyder’s actions,” the report stated. “While we could not determine the precise date of the incident and the identities of all dinner attendees, we sustained Ms. Johnston’s allegations. We spoke to Ms. Johnston several times and found her to be highly credible.”
But the report said the investigators found the “evidence was insufficient to demonstrate Mr. Snyder’s involvement in … in the security deposit issues, and was inconclusive as to his personal participation in the Club’s improper shielding of VTS revenues,” the report read.
According to the league, Snyder is expected to pay $60 million to the NFL in resolution of the report’s findings and “all outstanding matters.”
“The conduct substantiated in Ms. White’s findings has no place in the NFL,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “We strive for workplaces that are safe, respectful and professional. What Ms. Johnston experienced is inappropriate and contrary to the NFL’s values.”