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Hornets president and vice chairman Fred Whitfield stepping down after 17 seasons for health reasons

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Charlotte Hornets president and vice chairman Fred Whitfield is stepping down from his position and departing the organization due to health reasons after more than 17 years leading the team’s business operations.

“Over the last 18 months I have successfully battled a serious case of throat cancer,” the 65-year-old Whitfield said in a statement through the team. “I’ve also been focused on supporting my mother, who has her own health issues.”

Whitfield joined then-majority owner Michael Jordan’s Bobcats in July 2006, serving as president and chief operating officer for 12 years before being promoted.

He oversaw growth in the organization, including the name change from Bobcats back to the Hornets in 2014, the rebranding of Spectrum Center in 2016 and the launch of the Greensboro Swarm in the NBA G League. The organization also secured renovations and a lease extension for Spectrum Center and reached long-term agreements with Ticketmaster to serve as the arena’s ticketing provider and Live Nation to book entertainment.

The team also reached a TV broadcast deal with FOX Sports under Whitfield.

Under Whitfield, the Spectrum Center hosted the 2012 Democratic National Convention, 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend, 2019 ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament and the Jumpman Invitational, which features the North Carolina, Oklahoma, Florida and Michigan men's and women's basketball teams.

“We thank Fred for all he has done for our organization and for the role he has played in helping get our ownership group up to speed over the last several months,” Hornets co-owners Rick Schnall and Gabe Plotkin said in a statement. “His experience, knowledge and relationships in this industry, league and community have been invaluable to our franchise. We appreciate his hard work and dedication and wish him all the best.” ___

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The Associated Press