WWE founder and CEO Vince McMahon has “voluntarily stepped back” from some of his responsibilities at the sports entertainment company while its board investigates allegations of misconduct.
McMahon, who also serves as chairman, will retain his role related to WWE’s creative content while his daughter, Stephanie McMahon, will serve as interim CEO and chairwoman amid the probe.
“I love this company and am committed to working with the Independent Directors to strengthen our culture and our company; it is extremely important to me that we have a safe and collaborative workplace,” Stephanie McMahon said in a statement on Friday.
A special committee of the company’s board has been investigating McMahon and hush money payments doled out to women he allegedly had sexual relationships with. The initial allegation, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, involved a former employee who allegedly received $3 million in exchange for not “discussing her relationship with Mr. McMahon or disparaging him.”
WWE board members learned of the settlement offer through a series of anonymous emails received from an individual claiming to be a friend of the former employee. The ongoing investigation, reportedly launched in April, has since turned up other non-disclosure agreements from women with accusations against McMahon and John Laurinaitis, the company’s head of talent relations.
“I have committed to doing everything in my power to help the special committee complete its work, including marshaling the cooperation of the entire company to assist in the completion of the investigation and to implement its findings,” Stephanie McMahon added in her Friday statement.
WWE said Friday that it takes “all allegations of misconduct very seriously” and that it has requested independent legal counsel to assist with the review. A third party will also “conduct a comprehensive review of the company’s compliance program, HR function and overall culture,” according to WWE.
McMahon has worked to position the company as an entertainment powerhouse for decades, helping create famous wrestlers including The Rock, John Cena and Stone Cold Steve Austin along the way.
“I have pledged my complete cooperation to the investigation by the Special Committee, and I will do everything possible to support the investigation,” McMahon said Friday. “I have also pledged to accept the findings and outcome of the investigation, whatever they are.”
McMahon, 76, has been married to his wife, Linda, since 1966.
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