Report: Randall Stephenson resigns from PGA Tour policy board due to concerns over PIF deal

Report: Randall Stephenson resigns from PGA Tour policy board due to concerns over PIF deal
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Randall Stephenson has resigned his position on the PGA Tour’s policy board due to “serious concerns” about the circuit’s recent framework agreement with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia to create a for-profit entity alongside LIV Golf and the DP World Tour.

According to a report in the Washington Post, Stephenson submitted his letter of resignation to the nine other policy board members because the deal “is not one that I can objectively evaluate or in good conscience support, particularly in light of the U.S. intelligence report concerning Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.”

The Post also reported that Stephenson planned to submit his resignation from the board on June 12, six days after the agreement was announced, but waited after Tour commissioner Jay Monahan took leave to deal with a “medical situation.” The Tour announced Friday that Monahan planned to return to work July 17.

Jay Monahan will be returning to his role as PGA Tour Commissioner on July 17th. 

“I joined this board 12 years ago to serve the best players in the world and to expand the virtues of sportsmanship instilled through the game of golf,” wrote Stephenson, the longtime chair and chief executive of AT&T. 

“I hope, as this board moves forward, it will comprehensively rethink its governance model and keep its options open to evaluate alternative sources of capital beyond the current framework agreement.”

Although not unexpected, Stephenson’s resignation is an indication of the challenges the Tour faces to make the framework agreement with the PIF a definitive deal. The policy board met last month in Detroit during the Rocket Mortgage Classic to begin work on the definitive agreement.

The Tour’s policy board includes five player directors – Rory McIlroy, Patrick Cantlay, Webb Simpson, Peter Malnati and Charley Hoffman – as well as five independent directors – Ed Herlihy, Jimmy Dunne, Mark Flaherty, Mary Meeker and Stephenson. The PGA of America also has a representative on the board, John Lindert.

The Tour issued a memo to players late Sunday addressing Stephenson’s resignation: “Please join us in thanking Randall for his exemplary service to this organization and dedication to you – the membership – for more than 12 years.”

The memo also outlined the process for replacing Stephenson on the board: “The four remaining independent directors are to select the successor independent director (defined as “a public figure with a demonstrated interest in golf”) after consultation with the then-sitting five player directors and PGA Director. It should be noted that there is no specific time frame in which a successor Independent Director has to be appointed.”

According to the framework agreement, the governor of the PIF, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, will become a member of the Tour’s policy board – as well as the chairman of NewCo, the working name for whatever the for-profit entity created by the Tour and the PIF becomes – but it’s not likely he would be named Stephenson’s successor.

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