CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Facing a growing investigation that accuses him of sexual misconduct and using racist language at work, Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson announced Sunday that he will sell the NFL team after the season.

The team announced on Twitter that Richardson is selling the team, linking to a five-paragraph letter by the franchise’s only owner.

“I believe it is time to turn the franchise over to new ownership,” Richardson wrote, saying he wouldn’t begin discussions until after the season. The Panthers, who lost in the Super Bowl two seasons ago, are in playoff position again.

“I hope everyone in the organization, both on and off the field, will be firmly focused on one mission: to play and win the Super Bowl,” said Richardson, 81.

Richardson’s letter did not directly address the investigation or allegations against him.

The NFL awarded Richardson, a former player with the Baltimore Colts, an expansion franchise in 1993, and he has been the team’s only owner.

“While I will no longer be the team owner, I will always be the Panthers Number One fan,” Richardson’s letter said.

The Panthers are tied to Charlotte through June of 2019. The city and the team reached agreement on stadium improvements in 2013. The plan called for the city to contribute about $87 million for renovations to Bank of America Stadium in exchange for a six-year hard tether to keep the Panthers in Charlotte.

The money is less than what the team was seeking for improvements of the stadium, which opened in 1996. Forbes estimates the Panthers worth at $2.3 billion.

Richardson and his ownership group paid $206 million for the team.

Richardson’s announcement comes after a Sports Illustrated report Sunday that cited unnamed sources who said Richardson made sexually suggestive comments to women and on at least one occasion directed a racial slur at an African-American Panthers scout. The report states that the settlements came with non-disclosure requirements forbidding the parties from discussing the details.

The NFL said it has taken over the investigation of allegations of workplace misconduct. Panthers spokesman Steven Drummond said the team requested the league take over the investigation for “transparency reasons.”

Panthers interim general manager Marty Hurney, who began his second stint with the team after Richardson fired general manager Dave Gettleman on the eve of training camp, said he had never seen any evidence of Richardson displaying sexual or racial misconduct in the workplace.

“If this (sale) happens, I think it is a significant loss for the NFL,” Hurney told The Associated Press. “I have the utmost respect for him as an owner. Our employees have the utmost respect for him. I came back because of the respect I have for him and for the organization he started and developed.”

BENGALS: The team is not commenting on a report that Coach Marvin Lewis will leave the club after the season when his contract expires.

Citing unnamed league sources, ESPN reported before Cincinnati’s game at Minnesota on Sunday that Lewis, 59, would like to continue in the NFL after 15 seasons with the Bengals. That’s currently the second-longest tenure with one team in the league, three years behind New England’s Bill Belichick.

Asked about the report during pregame warmups by a reporter for the team website, Lewis said there was “nothing to it.”

With a 0-7 record in the playoffs, speculation swirled at the start of the season that this could be his final season with the Bengals. Cincinnati is 5-9 and will miss the playoffs for the second straight season.

Comments are not available on this story.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.