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Jerry Richardson giving up day-to-day control of Panthers

Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is stepping aside from day-to-day control of the team effective immediately in order to focus of the team's sale, NFL Network's Judy Battista reported Monday.

Tina Becker, a 20-year employee with the team, will be the Panthers' chief operating officer with full control of the organization, the Panthers announced. Becker becomes one of the highest-ranking female executives serving among the NFL's 32 teams in her new role with the team.

"These have been some of the most difficult days of my 19 years with the Panthers, but I am lifted up by the strong resolve and the commitment our employees have shown to this organization," Becker said in a statement released by the team. "Our team on the field is performing at a very high level, and I believe is bound for the Super Bowl. My immediate focus will be to ensure the corporate side of the organization performs at the same high level, while addressing the real concerns that have been raised in recent days."

Becker has worked in several key roles with the Panthers over the last two decades. She has helped with the organization's business and administrative priorities, as well as league affairs. Becker has been involved in the Panthers' business operations, ticketing and sponsorship, stadium operations, entertainment and fan engagement. Prior to joining the Panthers' front office, Becker served as the team's director of entertainment from 2012-14.

"I think it's a very good thing," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said about Becker's new role to NFL Network's Tiffany Blackmon. "She's been involved in operations since the beginning. She's a solid person, has worked her way up and knows the inner workings of the organization."

Richardson announced Sunday that he would put the Panthers up for sale at the conclusion of the season. The announcement came two days after the Panthers announced they were investigating workplace misconduct allegations made against Richardson, a probe that has since been taken over by the NFL.

"I believe that it is time to turn the franchise over to new ownership," Richardson wrote in a letter published Sunday. "Therefore, I will put the team up for sale at the conclusion of this NFL season. We will not begin the sale process, nor will we entertain any inquiries, until the very last game is played. I hope everyone in this organization, both on and off the field, will be firmly focused on just one mission: to play and win the Super Bowl."

Richardson, 81, played two NFL seasons with the Baltimore Colts in 1959-1960. In 1993, he became the first former player since George Halas to own an NFL team when the league awarded him the league's 29th franchise.

Rivera told reporters that he was "a little surprised and just kind of taken back a little bit" by the news of Richardson's intention to sell the team.

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