CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - David Tepper is making the distinction that the Carolina Panthers' organization won't be the same as it was under former owner Jerry Richardson.
Tepper made it clear during his first official press conference as owner Tuesday that the Carolina Panthers are under new ownership and is leaving behind a culture that involves allegations of workplace misconduct.
"It's a new day for this organization. That was then, this is now,": Tepper said. "I like to have an open environment where everybody feels like a family and there;s going to be openness on all sides, including football and business side."
The new owner says there will not be any non-disclosure agreements. According to a Sports Illustrated report last December, the Carolina Panthers settle with payouts to at least four former employees regarding inappropriate workplace behavior by former owner Jerry Richardson. These included sexual harassment and the use of a racial slur.
Tepper, a billionaire hedge fund manager, was dressed very casually as he took the stand. A stark contrast to the how Richardson usually dressed. Don't let Tepper's laid back casual style fool you. He's ready to win on the field.
"It's a new day for this organization and hopefully we'll have bigger and better things to come, including superbowl championships in the future."
The 60-year-old Pittsburgh native went from growing up in an "inner city" neighborhood to becoming a billionaire hedge fund manager and NFL owner. He says it's important to give back to the community.
"I am a person who has inner faith. I sometimes wake up and just say thanks God, thank you God. Through my charity stuff, I'm a big believer in social justice and I'm a big believer in the country."
The point Tepper emphasized the most: an open door policy.
"I think there's been an atmosphere where the organization wasn't allowed to go up and talk about things. There's going to be no impediment to that in the future."
As for the 13-foot high stature of Richardson, Tepper says he's "contractually obligated" to keep it outside of the team's stadium.
Richardson sold the team after his reputation was tarnished following reports in December of sexual and racial misconduct in the workplace. The league later substantiated the claims following a six-month investigation and fined Richardson $2.75 million.
Built in 2016, the statue features Richardson holding a football next to two growling Panthers.
Tepper also reiterated that Charlotte is the "logical place" for the Panthers, but said new practice facilities are a necessity.