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OAKLAND Cheap
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, Calif. (AP) Top leaders from the major
professional sports leagues and individual franchises along with high-profile
former athletes have begun looking at ways to avoid the kinds of sexual
misconduct scandals that have rocked the world of politics and the entertainment
industry.

And lately, sports, too.

The issue came up in discussions earlier this month during the first meeting
of the Anti-Defamation League’s new Sports Leadership Council, which is chaired
by Pac-12 Conference Commissioner Larry Scott. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell
and Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred attended, joined by NCAA
President Mark Emmert among others such as Big East Commissioner and former WNBA
President Val Ackerman, various pro sports owners and team presidents. Tennis
star Venus Williams is taking part, while civil rights activists Cheap
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, women’s advocates and sports agents are in
the group as well.

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The leadership council briefly discussed the topic of sexual misconduct as
part of its larger agenda during its first meeting in New York but has yet to
identify any specific initiatives. Scott stressed the goal of the group is to be
proactive on any hot-button topics, such as sexual harassment and sexual
misconduct, given recent firings and lawsuits filed around the country.

”It did come up, and it has been a real issue,” Scott said. ”It’s been an
area of focus in sports generally for young male athletes to be role
models.”

Recent weeks have seen major misconduct allegations emerging in sports. Hall
of Famer Marshall Faulk is among three NFL Network analysts suspended after a
woman who worked as a wardrobe stylist at the network accused them in a lawsuit
of sexual misconduct. That came after Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon was
sued for sexual harassment by a woman who worked for him at his sports marketing
firm. Moon denied the allegations again Thursday in a radio interview.

Last Sunday, Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson announced he would sell
the team while he is under investigation for sexual and racial misconduct in the
workplace. The NFL plans to hire an outside counsel to investigate the
allegations.

Scott realizes the importance of discussing cases of sexual misconduct.

”I can just speak for my own experience at the Pac-12 and throughout college
sports, there’s been a real embrace of a White House campaign called `It’s on
Us’ and a focus,” Scott said. ”Stanford’s done some things here locally, too,
from some PSAs to focus on awareness and the importance of everyone having the
responsibility to be upstanders not bystanders, that it’s on everyone to be
aware of potential sexual harassment and misconduct. It’s been an important area
of focus in college sports. It’s certainly on the agenda and on the list of
issues that sports is confronting.”

Golden State Warriors President and COO Rick Welts, who participated in the
council’s two-hour initial session by phone, just addressed sexual misconduct in
a meeting with his small group of top executives and another with all of the
franchise’s management leaders.

”You raise it as an issue that it creates a natural opportunity to be able to
talk about it again,” Welts said. ”We have our regular harassment training. It’s
not a new subject#3# but it’s certainly got a new focus right now. It’s an
opportunity to just kind of reaffirm the things that we want the organization to
stand for and we’re using it as an opportunity to do that. It was definitely a
conversation.”

Still, Welts said he often asks himself whether he is doing enough.

”You can do the training and have the conversations,” he said, ”then your
control is gone.”

That’s largely why the council wants to figure out how it might do more – in
a united effort.

The goal of the group is to find ways to collaborate on understanding current
events and how they affect sports, what athletes and sports officials can do
with such a focus on the rise of sports stars’ social stands and activism as
well as brainstorming further ways of ensuring and improving unity and
respect.

”It often draws attention to issues that are going on in society at large,
things like racism, homophobia#4# religious intolerance, bullying, domestic
violence issues,” Scott said. ”These are all issues that society’s been
wrestling over the last year and sport often comes into focus if these issues
happen in sports. They get a lot of attention.

”Sports leaders have an opportunity to make an impact on these things. This
is the first time I’m aware of that the entire sports community has come
together to exchange ideas and views, share experiences and to explore
opportunities that there might be for some collective activities or to work
together to amplify the great individual work that individual athletes or teams
or leagues are doing.”

Major League Baseball states as one of its ”workplace code of conduct”
principles: ”Harassment and discrimination are against MLB’s values and will not
be tolerated anywhere in the Major or Minor Leagues.”

The council will continue to address the hot-button issues and current events
facing not only sports but society.

Many of those involved figure as much positive change and dialogue that can
happen the better.

”It’s a big opportunity,” Welts said. ”It has just started.”

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