Chris McGowan has announced he is resigning as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Portland Trail Blazers, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports. Vulcan Sports and Entertainment (VSE) is responsible for the business operations of the Portland Trail Blazers, and McGowan also serves as its CEO. It remains unclear at this point in time as to what other roles McGowan may be stepping down from.
According to Haynes, Dewayne Hankins will replace McGowan as the president of the Trail Blazers. Hankins is in his ninth season with the organization, where he has served as an executive vice president and the Chief Commercial Officer. Hankins was key in securing StormX, a cryptocurrency company, as a jersey sponsor.
McGowan joined the Trail Blazers organization as the president and chief executive officer in October 2012. He was elevated as the chief executive officer of VSE in 2018, which includes overseeing the other professional sports organizations managed by Vulcan Sports and Entertainment.
The team acknowledged the resignation by releasing this statement from McGowan:
Thank you, @ChrisDMcGowan ❤️https://t.co/bc34T3qgH8 pic.twitter.com/7HFW9nwLig— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) November 12, 2021
Reaction pieces are starting to roll in as the afternoon unfolds.
Ben Golliver of the Washington Post quotes McGowan saying that the resignation is not linked with the ongoing investigation of President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey for creating a toxic, hostile work environment.
“I have been here 10 years, and that’s a long time to lead an organization,” McGowan said. “I want to pursue other opportunities, and the only way I can do that is if I resign and move on. My contract was coming up, so it was either that or we’re going to be negotiating a new contract extension. I felt that my head wasn’t 100 percent in moving ahead and being here longer. The window of opportunity where I can have those conversations with Jody about the future is right now. It just felt like the right time for me.”
“[Fans should] keep the faith,” he said. “The business is doing really well. It’s going to continue to do well under Dewayne’s leadership. We have a really solid staff, and we have a really solid senior leadership group there. Jody and [Vice Chair] Bert [Kolde] are playing an active role and helping steer the organization as well. ... I understand that people are going to form their own opinions [about the timing]. This is my decision and it was based on the things I just shared. Whether or not people believe that is not for me to overly stress about. I know why I’m leaving, and it’s so I can pursue other opportunities.”
John Canzano of The Oregonian echoes McGowan’s official story, but questions if there isn’t still something more behind the scenes.
Said one team source: “Good for Chris. It’s tough to stick around when you don’t share the values of the organization and it got worse when Jody arrived. It’s just a bunch of bad people treating good people really bad.”
McGowan wouldn’t touch that on the record. I know, I asked. The outgoing president instead took the high road and said he plans to take a sabbatical and pursue other opportunities. McGowan is smart, shrewd and by all accounts a good person to work for. I don’t think he’ll last a week on the open market. I also think he was wise to get out before the ongoing investigation drags down the entire operation.
Both Golliver and Canzano elicited quotes from McGowan about his accomplishments with the Blazers, including helping the organization become more ambitious and securing various sponsorship deals.