Tina Becker Takes Full Control of Panthers Amid Jerry Richardson Investigation

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist

FILE - In this Jan. 24, 2016, file photo, Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson watches before the NFL football NFC Championship game against the Arizona Cardinals in Charlotte, N.C. The Panthers say team captains and other selected players met with owner Richardson at his home Tuesday, Sept. 26, to
Bob Leverone/Associated Press

Amid the Jerry Richardson investigation, the Carolina Panthers announced Monday that Tina Becker assumed control of the day-to-day management of the franchise as the chief operating officer. 

Becker said:

"These have been some of the most difficult days of my 19 years with the Panthers, but I am lifted up by the strong resolve and the commitment our employees have shown to this organization. Our team on the field is performing at a very high level, and I believe is bound for the Super Bowl. My immediate focus will be to ensure the corporate side of the organization performs at the same high level, while addressing the real concerns that have been raised in recent days."

This comes after Richardson announced his plans to put the team up for sale Sunday.

Despite his intention to sell the team, the NFL will continue to investigate allegations he behaved inappropriately during interactions with employees. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, league spokesman Joe Lockhart said the NFL is "moving forward with the investigation."

L. Jon Wertheim and Viv Bernstein of Sports Illustrated detailed some of the allegations, noting "at least four former Panthers employees have received 'significant' monetary settlements due to inappropriate workplace comments and conduct by owner Jerry Richardson, including sexually suggestive language and behavior, and on at least one occasion directing a racial slur at an African-American Panthers scout."

The report also revealed the settlements the employees received included non-disclosure requirements.

As for Becker, the team's announcement highlighted her ascension within the organization on its business, ticketing, entertainment and fan engagement. She was the director of entertainment from 2012-14 before she became part of the owner's office.

Becker got her start with the Panthers as a cheerleader before becoming the coach of the squad before continuing her ascension up the organization, per Joe Tacopino of the New York Post.

Journalist Libby Weihsmann shared a photo of Becker during her time with the cheerleading squad, praising her work ethic and the appointment:

Libby Weihsmann @LibbyWeihsmann

Tina Becker, seen in the middle of the top row (photo found on Panthers team website), started with the Panthers as a TopCat. Now she’s COO of the team. I can promise you, she’s an incredible leader. She is smart, knowledgeable and hard-working. https://t.co/0q8LNuXog5

Despite the investigation and developments off the field, the Panthers are playing well on it and have won six of seven games following Sunday's victory over the Green Bay Packers. Carolina is 10-4 and sits in the first NFC wild-card spot with two regular-season games remaining.