Rick Welts said he’s stepping down as president and chief executive officer of the Phoenix Suns, four months after disclosing that he’s gay.
“I’m at a point in my life where my focus is to align my personal life in a way I’ve never been able to achieve before,” Welts said in a statement from the National Basketball Association team. “The most important people in my personal life are not in Phoenix.”
Welts joined the franchise as president in 2002. He added CEO duties two years ago.
The search for a replacement will begin immediately, owner Robert Sarver said in the statement.
Welts made his disclosure in a front-page New York Times story, becoming the most senior professional sports executive to say he’s homosexual.
“The response from fans, co-workers, players and ownership of the Suns to my announcement has been the most gratifying experience of my life,” said Welts, who will leave his job Sept. 15.
Welts began his affiliation with the NBA as a ball boy with the Seattle SuperSonics in 1967. He spent 17 years at the league office, leaving in 1999 as chief marketing officer.