Panthers' internal investigation leads to resignation of defensive backs coach

The Carolina Panthers’ internal investigation into workplace practices has led to the resignation of at least one employee.

In a statement on Friday, the team confirmed that the resignation of defensive backs coach Curtis Fuller on Wednesday came after complaints of workplace misconduct. Fuller had been with the Panthers since 2013.

Conduct to women ‘inappropriate’

Via ESPN Panthers writer David Newton, the team’s statement, attributed to spokesman Steven Drummond said, “After approaching Coach Fuller with the findings of an investigation into complaints of inappropriate conduct, we accepted his resignation. The Panthers are deeply committed to ensuring a safe, comfortable and diverse work environment where all individuals, regardless of sex, race, color, religion, gender, or sexual identity or orientation, are treated fairly and equally.”

A source told Newton that Fuller’s conduct toward women in the organization was “inappropriate.”

Earlier in the week, head coach Ron Rivera called the situation behind Fuller’s resignation “complicated.”

Investigation began after accusations against Richardson

The Panthers began an internal investigation after Sports Illustrated published a report in December about team owner Jerry Richardson’s disturbing behavior toward female employees of the franchise, as well as his treatment of at least one black scout.

The NFL is also conducting an investigation into the allegations against Richardson, but it is seemingly toothless, as one of the women who accused Richardson of sexual harassment noted in open letters she wrote to the league and others last week, which were published by Sports Illustrated. Richardson is refusing to release those who took settlements and signed non-disclosure agreements from the NDAs, and the NFL can’t offer immunity.

Former Panthers owner Jerry Richardson
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Former Panthers owner Jerry Richardson
Feb 7, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson walks on the field before Super Bowl 50 against the Denver Broncos at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
(L-R) Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney, new NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, retiring commissioner Paul Tagliabue, and Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson pose after Goodell was named the league's new chief executive in Northbrook, Illinois, August 8, 2006. REUTERS/John Gress (UNITED STATES)
Jerry Richardson, owner of the Carolina Panthers, makes a statement after negotiations collapsed between the National Football League (NFL) and National Football League Players' Association (NFLPA) in Washington March 11, 2011. The last real hope for a quick end to the dispute ended when the union representing the players (NFLPA) filed a court application to dissolve itself after failing to reach an agreement with league and owners over a range of issues. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS)
Carolina Panthers team owner Jerry Richardson, right, arrives in the owner's box at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017 prior to the team's game against the Green Bay Packers. Sports Illustrated reported Sunday that at least four former Carolina Panthers employees have received 'significant' monetary settlements as a result of inappropriate workplace comments and conduct by owner Jerry Richardson The conduct, Sports Illustrated reported, included 'sexually suggestive language and behavior, and on at least one occasion directing a racial slur at an African-American Panthers scout.' (Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer/TNS via Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 17: The Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson shakes hands with Corey Brown #10 of the Carolina Panthers before their game against the New Orleans Saints at Bank of America Stadium on November 17, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: (L-R) Head coach Ron Rivera and owner Jerry Richardson of the Carolina Panthers smile after defeating the Arizona Cardinals with a score of 49 to 15 in the NFC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: (L-R) Retired American professional stock car racing driver Jeff Gordon talks with Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson prior to the NFC Championship Game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on January 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: Team Owner Jerry Richardson (R) of the Carolina Panthers is interviewed by Terry Bradshaw after the NFC Championship Gameagainst the Arizona Cardinals at Bank Of America Stadium on January 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson talk prior to game time at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina on Sunday, October 21, 2012. The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Carolina Panthers, 19-14. (Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer/MCT via Getty Images)

Panthers’ next owner still unknown

Hours after the initial SI story outlining the numerous allegations against Richardson, a former NFL player who brought the league to Charlotte as the Panthers’ founding owner, the team announced that the 81-year-old would be putting the franchise up for sale.

The Charlotte Observer has identified at least four bidders for the club: Alan Kestenbaum, the CEO of a Canadian steel company; David Tepper, a star in hedge fund circles and minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers; e-commerce entrepreneur Michael Rubin, whose companies include Fanatics; and Ben Navarro, the son of former college football coach Frank Navarro and a South Carolina native.

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