The Las Vegas Raiders, a team known to make history with its personnel hires, made history again on Thursday when it announced former Nevada Gaming Control Board Chair Sandra Douglass Morgan as its new team president.
Sandra Douglass Morgan and Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis take questions during a Thursday press conference announcing Douglas as the new team president. Morgan previously served as the chair of the Nevada Gaming Control Board until last November. (Image: Screen capture from Raiders.com)
With the hire, the NFL franchise that hired the first Latino head coach, the first Black coach, and the first female CEO also became the first to hire a Black woman to lead a franchise.
Morgan is no stranger to history, either. In January 2019, Gov. Steve Sisolak appointed her to become the first Black person to serve as the chair of the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Her background also includes serving on the Nevada Gaming Commission and as the city attorney for North Las Vegas.
Team owner Mark Davis said at a news conference Thursday that the Raiders spent the last 10 months looking for someone who can lead the franchise “into the future,” and throughout the search, Morgan kept emerging among the prospects.
“Her experience, integrity and passion for this community will be invaluable to our organization,” he said in a statement. “From the moment I met Sandra, I knew she was a force to be reckoned with.”
Questions Arise During Hiring Process
Morgan succeeds Marc Badain, who resigned nearly a year ago. Interim President Dan Ventrelle was dismissed in May, and Ventrelle told the Las Vegas Review-Journal after the move that it was because he reported hostile work environment claims to the league against Davis.
There also have been a number of other team executives who have left since last year, and Morgan told reporters at Thursday’s press conference that staff turnover has been a widely reported topic.
Those aren’t the only off-field matters that has plagued the Raiders in the past year. Jon Gruden stepped down as the team’s coach a month into last season after old emails featuring derogatory remarks against women, gay people, and minorities were released to media outlets. There were also issues involving players, including Henry Ruggs III, who was arrested for causing a deadly crash while driving under the influence of alcohol. The team released the former first-round pick shortly after his arrest.
Being approached to lead the team’s front office was an honor, Morgan told reporters, but she said the discussions also gave her chances to ask a lot of questions.
It’s no secret that this organization has faced some recent challenges,” she said. “But I want to be clear. I am not here to sweep anything under the rug or avoid problems or concerns that need to be addressed. The fact is I accepted this role because I believe in the promise of the Raiders. I believe in the future of the Raiders, and I believe in this organization’s tenants of integrity, community, and – most of all – commitment to excellence.”
Morgan said her goal is to take the success the team has had on the field – they reached the playoffs last year for the first since 2016 – and carry it over into the front office. She also noted how the team, which moved to Las Vegas before the 2020 season, has transformed the city.
“That culture of winning, teamwork, and transparency will be a part of everything we do,” Morgan added. “It will be how we continue to fulfill our promise to be a part of the fabric of the Las Vegas community and bring a new generation of fans into Raider Nation.”
Morgan to Keep Caesars Board Seat
Morgan comes to the sports business industry after working more than 20 years as a lawyer and also working in the gaming industry as well. According to her LinkedIn bio, one of her early positions was as an attorney for MGM Resorts International.
In her time since leaving the NGCB, she’s served as an attorney at Covington & Burling LLP, where she’s represented gaming companies. She’s also taken positions on boards for Allegiant Air, which holds naming rights for the Raiders stadium, and Caesars Entertainment.
She said she believes serving on those boards would be a benefit to the team, but that they will keep a close eye if any issues develop. Both Allegiant and Caesars know her new employer is her priority, Morgan added.
Gary Carano, the executive chairman of Caesars’ board hailed the Raiders move. Morgan is “a talented and accomplished leader in both the private and public sectors,” he said in a statement provided to Casino.org.
“Her unique experience has made her a tremendous addition to the Caesars Entertainment Board of Directors,” he added. “We are excited for her to embark on this next phase of her career, taking the helm of the Las Vegas Raiders organization and couldn’t be happier that she will remain a valued member of our board.”
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