Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers reinstate Marty Hurney as interim GM after NFL’s inquiry

After an NFL investigation cleared Marty Hurney of any violations after a since-withdrawn harassment claim filed by his ex-wife, the Carolina Panthers have reinstated him as interim general manager. Hurney, who had been on paid leave, is still a candidate for the team’s permanent GM spot.
After an NFL investigation cleared Marty Hurney of any violations after a since-withdrawn harassment claim filed by his ex-wife, the Carolina Panthers have reinstated him as interim general manager. Hurney, who had been on paid leave, is still a candidate for the team’s permanent GM spot. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Carolina Panthers interim general manager Marty Hurney was reinstated Friday following the NFL’s two-week investigation into harassment allegations made by his ex-wife.

The league said it found no evidence to support Jeanne Hurney’s claims of “domestic violence or similar conduct” that would have violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy.

The NFL cleared Hurney on Friday morning. He was headed back to Bank of America Stadium on Friday afternoon after being reinstated, according to his attorney, Kathi Lucchesi.

“This morning, the NFL cleared Marty Hurney of any wrongdoing and closed its investigation into the false claims made by his ex-wife,” Lucchesi said in a statement.

“It’s been a very long two weeks for Marty and his family. In this digital age, it’s nearly impossible to overcome suspicion, defend yourself, and clear your name once the court of public opinion gets a hold of a false narrative. The public scrutiny can be devastating and unrelenting. In this case, it was also unnecessary.”

The Panthers placed Hurney on paid administrative leave on Feb. 4, two days after Jeanne Hurney unsuccessfully requested a temporary restraining order and alleged Marty Hurney harassed her. She then withdrew her complaint against him.

NFL investigator Lisa Friel interviewed Marty Hurney last week in Charlotte, and also spoke with Panthers officials. Jeanne Hurney, through her attorney, turned down a request to meet with Friel, according to NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy.

The league released a statement Friday saying its investigation included “a review of available law enforcement and court records, sworn testimony in prior proceedings, and interviews of multiple persons including Mr. Hurney. ...

“Our investigation identified no evidence to support an allegation of domestic violence or similar conduct that would constitute a violation of the Personal Conduct Policy.”

Hurney did not immediately return a message seeking comment Friday afternoon.

Hurney, 62, remains the favorite to become the Panthers’ full-time GM for the second time in his career.

He was the only internal candidate to interview for the job. Buffalo Bills assistant college scouting director Lake Dawson, Houston Texans assistant GM Jimmy Raye and San Francisco 49ers senior personnel executive Martin Mayhew also interviewed.

Hurney returns to work during an important time on the NFL calendar. The Panthers’ coaches and scouts began their draft meetings this week in Charlotte, and will travel to Indianapolis in two weeks for the scouting combine.

The team of legal and financial experts handling the sale of the Panthers will begin to meet with prospective ownership groups over the coming weeks. In charge of the legal side of the deal are Joe Leccese, New York-based chairman of Proskauer Ros

Free agency begins in March, with the Panthers facing decisions on left guard Andrew Norwell, defensive tackle Star Lotulelei and kicker Graham Gano. They’re also waiting to hear whether 37-year-old defensive end Julius Peppers will play another season.

The NFL’s review of Hurney took place concurrently with its investigation of Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, who made substantial payouts to at least four former employees to settle claims of sexual and racial misconduct, according to Sports Illustrated.

Hours after the SI report on Dec. 17, Richardson announced he was selling the team.

Despite the unsettled state of the franchise, Hurney was happy to return to work, according to his lawyer.

“Words cannot express how thankful Marty is for the love and unwavering support of his family. He is grateful to the NFL for conducting a thorough investigation. He is also grateful for the continued confidence and support of the Panthers organization,” Lucchesi said.

“Marty is looking forward to getting back to the work of building a strong and successful Panthers team for the 2018 season.”

Joseph Person: 704-358-5123, @josephperson

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