LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The Raiders made history Thursday naming Sandra Douglass Morgan as team president. The former chair of the Nevada Gaming Control Board is the first Black woman to be hired as president of an NFL team.
She knows her role will be to help the Raiders usher in a new culture and image to a front office that has been rocked by allegations of disfunction and mistreatment.
“I’m not here to sweep anything under the rug,” Morgan said during her introductory news conference at Allegiant Stadium. “I believe in the promise of the Raiders. I believe in the future of the Raiders.
Morgan offered that the Raiders have a reputation for diversity. But the franchise that hired Tom Flores as the NFL’s first Hispanic head coach and Amy Trask as the league’s first female executive, is facing criticism, accused of operating a front office that has been rocked by turmoil.
A New York Times story from May said more than a dozen ex-employees, some speaking on the condition of anonymity because they signed agreements that prohibited them from discussing their employment publicly, described several issues, including how people were paid and bungled tax payments over several years.
The story said shortly after the team moved to Las Vegas from Oakland, California, it missed a payment for an electric bill that forced power to be cut off in its temporary office.
Before the May story by the Times, longtime team president Marc Badain, who reportedly was close to owner Mark Davis and his father, Al Davis, resigned (July 2021). His successor, Dan Ventrelle, another longtime employee, was fired (May 2022). Executives Ed Villanueva, the chief financial officer, and Araxie Grant, the controller, reportedly resigned in August 2021, just after Badain’s departure.
“Look, there’s been no secret about the reports of turnover,” Morgan said. But before her news conference, where she looked poised and polished, she said she met with team employees and wanted them to know she was committed to “making sure the Raiders family is strong, is in order.”
Morgan has been a resident of the Las Vegas Valley for more than 40 years. Her father, she said, was stationed at Nellis Air Force Base.
“The Las Vegas connection was not a criteria but it was something on the positive side of the ledger,” Davis said of Morgan’s hiring.
As for her place in NFL history, Morgan recognizes the significance. “The impact of this is not lost on me,” she said of being the first Black woman named president of a team in the league. “I would definitely tip my hat to all the prior women that were leaders and visionaries. If I could be an inspiration or open doors for any other woman or girl out there, then that’s an incredible accomplishment for me.”
Morgan also referred to her history of working with and for large organizations and in sports as something that would benefit the Raiders.
She was appointed by Gov. Steve Sisolak in January 2019 as chair of the state Gaming Control Board. She was the first Black woman to serve as chair of the board after being appointed to the Nevada Gaming Commission in April 2018 by then-Gov. Brian Sandoval.
She also was an executive for AT&T, responsible for managing the company’s government and community affairs in Nevada. She was the city attorney for North Las Vegas from 2008 to 2016 and served as an athletic commissioner on the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
She also has a bit of an NFL background. Her husband, Don Morgan, played safety in the league from 1999 to 2002 for the Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings.
The president position has been vacant since May when allegations first broke of front-office turmoil with the NFL team.
The Carolina Panthers named Kristi Coleman as team president in February, just the second woman team president in the NFL. The league’s first female team president was Kim Pegula, named to the post by the Buffalo Bills in 2018.