Back in May, Phoenix Suns President and CEO Rick Welts decided he could no longer live with keeping a part of his life hidden from the public; and he announced to the planet that he is gay. Friday, according to the “Arizona Republic” Welts told the Suns that he was leaving his position running the business interests of the club later this month, to pursue a new relationship with a man who lives in Sacramento. The Phoenix executive told the paper that it was time for him to get his priorities in order. He said “The most important thing for me is to get my personal and professional lives better aligned. They’ve probably never been aligned. I’m 58 years old and it’s time to do that.”
Welts stressed that his decision was not based on a desire to work for another team in the Association. He told the paper “This isn’t one of those departures to see greener pastures. It really is completely a personal situation. These guys have been tremendously accommodating and any other inference than that is absolutely crazy.”
Suns majority Team Owner Robert Sarver said that although the team will have a big hole to fill with Welts leaving the organization, he understands the motivation behind the decision. Sarver said “The last seven years, I’ve relied on Rick quite a bit in terms of managing the Phoenix Suns. We’ve spoken once a day for the last seven years for the most part. I’ll definitely miss him as a presence in this organization and he’s become a good friend. At the end of the day, what’s most important is that you’re happy. As much as I’d like Rick to stay, it’s the right move for him and I’m supportive of it.”
The Suns President told the paper that his admission of being gay has changed his life for the better. Welts said “This has been an incredibly personally gratifying experience, going through that and reaching a different part of my life where I’m able to share 100 percent of my life with people I work with instead of 95 percent. There’s a great sense of satisfaction and freedom in that. What I’m doing is uncharacteristic of Rick Welts. Leaving one of the best jobs in sports to go figure out what’s next is something I never would’ve done a year ago or five years ago or 10 years ago. Personally, there is a level of confidence and that I can figure it out and the future is going to be terrific. I’m just in a different place.”
Welts had been with the team since 2002, and was under contract until the end of next season. Jason Cowley, who had been the club’s General Counsel, has been elevated to Executive Vice President for the team and will handle Welts’ duties on an interim basis.