Posted January 29, 2013

Hunter cuts ties between family and players’ union after charges of nepotism

Arn Tellem, Ben Golliver, Billy Hunter, NBPA
NBPA executive director Billy Hunter has come under scrutiny for his business practices. (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Billy Hunter has drawn scrutiny for the NBPA’s business practices. (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

By Ben Golliver

Billy Hunter has pledged to continue his work with the National Basketball Players Association after an internal investigation that questioned his practices as executive director, but his family members won’t be joining him.

Bloomberg.com reported Tuesday that Hunter has cut ties between the players’ union and his daughter, daughter-in-law and son, who each received union funds directly or indirectly.

The New York-based union paid almost $4.8 million to Hunter’s family members and their professional firms since 2001, according to public records. Hunter makes $3 million a year as union chief.

“Hopefully this decision will alleviate any concerns raised by their employment,” Hunter wrote in the letter. “These measures are being taken although the report noted that both of them were highly qualified, not overpaid, and were contributing members of the NBPA staff.”

Robyn Hunter, the director’s daughter, ceased working at the union on Jan. 25, according to the letter. Megan Inaba, his daughter-in-law and director of special events and sponsorships, will leave on Feb. 17 after the National Basketball Association’s All-Star weekend.

Hunter, 70, also secured a letter of resignation from Prim Capital, which employs his son, Todd.

An internal investigation by the Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison law firm produced a lengthy report that called into question the presence of Hunter’s family members on the NBPA’s payroll, the legality of Hunter’s contract, potential conflicts of interest and the possible misuse of NBPA funds.

“The facts do not show that … Hunter engaged in criminal acts involving embezzlement or theft of Union funds,” the report’s summary stated. “Nevertheless, in our judgment, the facts do show that, at times, Mr. Hunter’s actions were inconsistent with his fiduciary obligations to put the interests of the Union above his personal interests.”

Hunter has drawn criticism from players and agents alike since the investigation’s report was released publicly.

On Tuesday, The New York Times published a letter from super-agent Arn Tellem to one of his clients, advising that Hunter be terminated as executive director and that he be barred from All-Star Weekend meetings. Among Tellem’s complaints: that Hunter “abused his position by hiring family members and by conducting business with friends and family that enriched his cronies.”

You need a strong union to represent you, to protect your rights and to prepare for the next round of labor negotiations in five years. I urge you to ask your player representatives to instruct Mr. Hunter not to attend the players meeting during the All-Star Game so that he cannot continue to intimidate and manipulate. In fact, no union employee should be allowed to attend the event. This would ensure that the independent law firm can present its findings directly to the players and answer their questions. Players should meet the investigators with no outsiders present. Otherwise, players could be pressured while discussing and making recommendations about Mr. Hunter’s future.

I implore you to hold Mr. Hunter accountable for his egregious behavior. The union belongs to the players. Mr. Hunter works for you, though he clearly doesn’t realize it. If you don’t act now, Mr. Hunter’s treachery will stand and the players’ ability to point their union in the right direction will be delayed and compromised to your continued detriment.

Earlier this month, Nets guard Deron Williams told CBSSports.com that he believes it’s time for Hunter to go.

“I think change is needed, top to bottom,” Nets star Deron Williams told CBSSports.com on Friday night, becoming the league’s first high-profile player to call for Hunter’s ouster as executive director of the National Basketball Players Association.

“I don’t think things were getting voted on like they should have been,” Williams said. “… I’m sure there’s guys that are still with Billy, and some guys that aren’t. We’ve just got to figure out what the next step is.”

Despite those critiques, Hunter released a statement two weeks ago saying that he would continue in his role.

5 comments
amolad
amolad like.author.displayName 1 Like

They should make this an absolute rule: if you're hired you CANNOT hire your family in any way, shape, or form.

You cannot hire the company where they work.

You cannot hire the company where they will soon be working.

It's gotten to the point where this kind of nepotism in our society is totally unnacceptable.

utodman118
utodman118

 considering what Billy hunt is done,  while as director of the NBA players Association, has been remarkable. The simple fact is, when Billy took over as the director the players Association was $5 million in debt. Today it  has over $200 million in the bank. This was no easy feat.   yes you can accuse them of nepotism, or being a dictator, but besides that all his effort was direct it at making the NBA players Association and institution that would benefit the  players. it would be all right if Billy didn't have a vision to make it a financially viable organization, but he had a vision and that's why they went after him. If Billy was a F/U no one would even accuse him of anything. As long as he was not becoming a force everything would be all right. No I do not approve of nepotism however they turned over every rock and stone and found nothing except the nepotism. Frankly consider what displays of making Billy is underpaid for the job he has done and maybe they had paid him in between what the high in a role-play as a making he would net the high is family in order to be justly compensated. This is something special to have been discussed instead of bought into the public's eye and created the embarrassment that it did. The plays need to look at what Billy has done for them and not try to get rid of him at this point

M as in Mancy
M as in Mancy like.author.displayName 1 Like

What a clown. NBA players not only look like absolute idiots for being affiliated with this guy, but also get incompetent representation. A microcosm why they have the largest average salaries, the longest careers, and the best health and yet 50% still go broke within a few years of retirement.