Las Vegas Raiders hire Sandra Douglas Morgan, former chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, as new team president on Thursday. She is the first black woman to hold a position in an NFL franchise.
Morgan is in a position that was vacated twice last year due to revolution in the front office and allegations of financial mismanagement and workplace dysfunction in the Raiders organization. She joins the Raiders nine months after departure of coach John Grudenwho resigned in October 2021 after The New York Times detailed emails in which he made misogynistic and homophobic comments before beginning his second tenure with the team.
Morgan sits on the boards of Caesars Entertainment and Allegiant Travel, the parent company of the airline that has naming rights to the Raiders Stadium, and last year was named vice chairman of the Las Vegas host committee for Super Bowl LVIII. scheduled for February 2024.
“I am thrilled that Sandra has agreed to join the Raiders family,” team owner Mark Davis said in a statement. “Her experience, integrity and passion for this community will be invaluable to our organization.”
Since the Raiders moved to Las Vegas from Oakland, California in 2020, six of the team’s top eight executives have quit or been fired without much explanation. Mark Baden stepped down as team president in July 2021 and his temporary replacement, Dan Ventrell, was fired in May. Ventrell later accused Davis, whose family had run the team for over 50 years, of creating a hostile work environment.
Morgan said she was “honored and humbled” when Davis approached her about the position, but she also had many questions for him.
“It’s no secret that this organization has recently run into some problems,” she said during a brief press conference at Allegiant Stadium on Thursday. “But I want to be clear: I’m not here to sweep things under the carpet or avoid issues or issues that need to be addressed.”
Morgan did not share specific details about how she plans to respond to allegations of workplace problems made by former team members, including financial irregularities and abuse of some workers. In 2021, Nicole Adams, who worked in the team’s human resources department for almost five years, filed a complaint against the raiders with the Nevada Equal Rights Commission, accusing the team of discriminating against her for being black and retaliating against her after she raised concerns about pay inequality and unequal treatment.
Morgan said her top priority was to meet with every member of the team, “making sure our Raider family is strong.” She added that Davis had “deliberately” made a lot of changes over the past six months.
Under the leadership of Al Davis, Mark’s father, the Raiders franchise has broken through a number of demographic barriers in football. Tom Flores, the first Hispanic head coach to win the Super Bowl, won two titles with the team in the 1980 and 1983 seasons. In 1989 the team hired Art Shell, the first black head coach in the modern NFL, and in 1997 Davis appointed Amy Trask as the team’s chief executive, the first woman in league history to hold the title. Raider Defense Karl Nasib became the first openly gay player in the NFL active in 2021.
Trask, who had been with the Raiders for nearly 30 years when she retired in 2013, noted that Morgan’s hiring meant “another first for an organization with so many such firsts.” Trask also stressed the importance of the role that Morgan will take on as a result of the recent turmoil in the team.
“This is an important decision for a number of reasons, including but not limited to stabilizing this position, stabilizing this organization,” Trask said. “The president of the organization has a leadership role, and that’s important. When you talk about countless points of instability, it’s the leader’s job to steer the organization in the right direction.”
Although she has not worked her way through the NFL, Morgan has cited her experience in large companies and her work in the sports, entertainment, and games industry, including a stint on the Nevada State Athletic Commission. She grew up in the Las Vegas area, where she worked as a city attorney and most recently as part of a state Covid-19 task force.