Following reports earlier this month that Washington Spirit head coach Richie Burke was fired and had been verbally abusive toward players, the Spirit are once again in the headlines.
According to Molly Hensley-Clancy and Steven Goff of the Washington Post, two of the Spirit’s owners are fighting for control of the team.
Emails obtained by the Post show that business executive Y. Michele Kang is seeking to buy a controlling share from co-owner and CEO Steve Baldwin. Baldwin, however, is resisting the efforts.
In April, it’s reported that Kang brought “a variety of serious issues and concerns” to Baldwin, who then offered to sell her the team. Those conversations resumed in the days following The Post’s story detailing allegations of abuse against Burke before Baldwin then changed his mind about selling.
Burke was initially hired by Baldwin and Larry Best, the Spirit’s president of sporting operations, despite some within the organization raising concerns. Chris Hummer, a former top executive, told The Post that Baldwin was explicitly told of allegations of abuse by Burke in a previous coaching role. A board member of a Spirit sponsor also reportedly raised concerns about the hiring. That board member told another owner, Bill Lynch, that the hiring could jeopardize potential sponsorships.
The removal of Burke seems to have led Kang to attempt to take control from Baldwin. She previously joined the ownership group last December.
However, in an email sent to NWSL leaders and fellow team owners last week, Baldwin accused Kang of attempting “to have me step aside in favor of her as CEO.” Additionally, Baldwin wrote that he initially “welcomed Kang to the ownership group” with the thought that Kang “could serve as an inspirational role model for our players and be a positive impact in our community.”
Now, it seems the two are at odds with no clear resolution in sight, especially as their fight goes public.
According to the article, both Kang and Baldwin own 35 percent of the team.