TEMPE, Ariz. — A day before the Arizona Cardinals moved the majority of their non-football operations out of their longtime practice facility and into a nearby workspace Wednesday, they fired three high-ranking employees at the vice president level or above, sources told ESPN.
In all, there were under 10 departures throughout various departments on the business side, a team spokesperson told ESPN.
Chief financial officer Greg Lee, who had been in that position for almost 15 of his nearly 18 years with the team, was the highest-ranking executive to be fired, sources told ESPN. Mike Iaquinta, the vice president of business development who had been with the team for 15 years, and Tim Delaney, the vice president of digital content and creative who was a 16-year veteran, also are out, sources said.
Steve Ryan, the Cardinals’ senior vice president for corporate partnerships, will leave on his own later this offseason after 20 years with the team, the team spokesperson told ESPN.
The exits also included two members of the Cardinals’ social media team, sources said.
The team held a meeting with its business development, content and marketing departments in the auditorium of the practice facility Tuesday, when the employees who were moving to the new facility had already packed their desks, sources told ESPN. During the meeting, the message from new chief operating officer Jeremy Walls was that the jobs of those employees in attendance were safe, sources said.
Walls, in an email obtained by ESPN that was sent minutes before that meeting, said the Cardinals have made «important changes and updates» over the past year after studying the organization and identifying ways to «modernize our approach, strengthen our culture, invest in our people and provide clarity for the future.»
In the email, Walls called the changes — the new facility and laying off the employees — a «new beginning» for the team. He also said he’s confident the Cardinals’ organization will «be at its peak when we all come together as a team, which starts now.»
The moves come five months after Arizona hired Walls in August and more than two months after ESPN’s investigation into the toxic workplace culture that current and former employees found to be abusive and intimidating due, in part, to owner Michael Bidwill.
Walls directed an internal audit of the non-football departments that a team spokesperson described as a «thorough review.»
That led to the restructuring of the non-football side, which added seven new departments while renaming another, according to an examination of the team website since October. The Cardinals have hired more than 40 employees in recent weeks and are set to hire more in the near future.
In August, Forbes listed the Cardinals as the 29th most valuable franchise in the NFL, worth $3.8 billion with $500 million in revenue and $83 million in operating income.