PayPal threatened to end its sponsorship of the Phoenix Suns on Friday unless the team removes owner Robert Sarver, who was suspended earlier this week following an investigation into alleged racist and misogynistic behavior.
“PayPal is a values-driven company and has a strong record of combatting racism, sexism, and all forms of discrimination,” the company’s CEO and President Dan Schulman said in a statement. “We have reviewed the report of the NBA league’s independent investigation into Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver and have found his conduct unacceptable and in conflict with our values.”
After conducting a yearlong investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct, the NBA announced on Tuesday that Sarver would face a one year suspension and $10 million fine. The league faced blowback over the decision, with the NAACP calling Sarver’s punishment “nothing but a speeding ticket.”
PayPal, a financial technology company that owns PayPal and Venmo, said it would not renew its sponsorship with the Suns at the end of the season if Sarver were to remain involved.
“While we strongly reject the conduct of Robert Sarver, we remain supportive of the team, its players, and the experienced and diverse talent now leading the organization,” Schulman said.
Rev. Al Sharpton on Friday commended the company’s decision, after previously calling on PayPal to end its partnership with the team.
“I commend Mr. Schulman for taking this step, but more can and must be done because justice delayed is simply justice denied,” Sharpton, the founder and CEO of the National Action Network, said in a statement.
Sharpton called on PayPal and the Suns’ other sponsors to demand Sarver’s immediate removal before the season starts next month.
“All corporate sponsors have a morality clause in their contracts that allows them to move quickly to terminate a relationship under circumstances such as these,” he added. “There is no need to wait a year. Sarver must step away immediately.”