Report: Suns appoint Sam Garvin interim governor for Robert Sarver suspension

Sep 15, 2022, 12:58 PM | Updated: 12:59 pm
Phoenix Suns and Mercury owner Robert Sarver walks on the court to congratulate players after the t...
Phoenix Suns and Mercury owner Robert Sarver walks on the court to congratulate players after the team defeated the Las Vegas Aces 87-84 in Game Five of the 2021 WNBA Playoffs semifinals to win the series at Michelob ULTRA Arena on October 8, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The Phoenix Suns will name minority owner and vice chairman Sam Garvin as interim governor to lead the NBA franchise while majority owner Robert Sarver serves his one-year suspension, ESPN’s Baxter Holmes reported Thursday.

Sarver, who was also fined $10 million after an investigation concluded he used racist, sexist and demeaning language in the workplace, had input into who would serve as the leader for the team, Holmes previously reported.

Garvin will take charge immediately and already was attending a board of governors meeting in place of Sarver on Wednesday.

According to his Suns biography, he is an entrepreneur and founder of Continental Promotion Group and served as chairman and CEO from 1989-2005 before he sold the company.

Prior, Garvin was a staff assistant on the Ronald Reagan administration’s Presidential Commission for the German-American Tri-Centennial. Garvin also worked at the Heinz company as a sales merchandiser.

He has a masters of international management specializing in marketing from Thunderbird. Garvin received his bachelor of arts in political science and German studies at the University of Pittsburgh.

Garvin is among the Suns Legacy Partners ownership members that in November 2021 put their names behind support of Sarver, disputing evidence from an ESPN article that revealed many of the findings that were later confirmed in the investigation by an independent law firm.

That ownership group on Tuesday, after the NBA suspended the Suns’ managing partner, said it was making change organizationally and that Sarver is taking responsibility for his actions.

“The NBA’s findings concerning the organization focus, for the most part, on historical matters that have been addressed in recent years, including through meaningful enhancements to our workplace compliance program,” this week’s statement read.

“Robert Sarver is also taking responsibility for his actions. He recognizes that at times during his eighteen years of ownership, his conduct did not reflect his, or the Suns’ values, and was inconsistent with the advancements the management team has taken with Robert’s full support.”

The law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz interviewed 320 people and evaluated over 80,000 documents that found the Suns majority owner “clearly violated common workplace standards” including “use of racially insensitive language; unequal treatment of female employees, sex-related statements and conduct; and harsh treatment of employees that on occasion constituted bullying.”

As a result, Sarver is not allowed to be present at any NBA or WNBA facility, practice facility or office area. He also cannot attend any league events or represent the Suns or Phoenix Mercury in any way.

He must also complete a training program “focused on respect and appropriate conduct in the workplace.”

Additionally, Sarver was fined $10 million, which is the highest amount allowed by the NBA constitution.

Wachtell, Lipton Rosen & Katz added that the “investigation makes no finding that Sarver’s conduct was motivated by racial or gender-based animus.”

The full report from the law firm can be viewed online.

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