Randall Stephenson has resigned from the PGA Tour policy board, according a resignation letter obtained by the Washington Post. The former AT&T executive has put an end to his 12-year tenure while citing concerns over the landmark agreement between the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund to house golf’s commercial operations under a new for-profit entity.
“I joined this board 12 years ago to serve the best players in the world and to expand the virtues of sportsmanship instilled through the game of golf,” Stephenson wrote in the letter. “I hope, as this board moves forward, it will comprehensively rethink its governance model and keep its options open to evaluate alternative sources of capital beyond the current framework agreement.”
Originally intending to resign on June 12, just six days after the deal was announced, Stephenson held off once it was announced PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan was taking a leave of absence due to a medical situation, according to the Post. Monahan has since announced his intent to return to his leadership role effective July 17.
Stephenson’s exit presents an interesting wrinkle to the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabian PIF deal. A key step in the approval process comes when the final agreement is presented to the PGA Tour policy board that consists of 10 members, five of which are PGA Tour players Rory McIlroy, Patrick Cantlay, Charley Hoffman, Peter Malnati and Webb Simpson.
Stephenson was among the five independent directors that includes deal architect Jimmy Dunne, well-known M&A attorney Ed Herlihy, Mark Flaherty and Mary Meeker.
This deal continues to experience adversity with more to come this week. Dunne and PGA Tour chief operating officer Ron Price will testify at a U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations hearing on July 11: “The PGA-LIV Deal: Implications for the Future of Golf and Saudi Arabia’s Influence in the United States.”
PIF governor Yasir al-Rumayyan and LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman were also invited to testify but cited scheduling conflicts. Monahan had been invited, but Dunne and Price will represent the PGA Tour as the commissioner continues to recover.
“Over the last several years, as we’ve confronted challenged that called the PGA Tour’s future into question, we have devoted every ounce of energy to securing a stable path forward for our organization,” Monahan wrote in his letter to the PGA Tour Policy Board announcing his return. “With the framework agreement with the DP World Tour and PIF, we are on a path to accomplish this goal. Should we be able to reach a definitive agreement, we can rest assured that the PGA Tour will continue to lead and shape the game for the future. Beyond that, we will have the ability to invest in our players and communities like never before.”