Jimmy Haslam investigation: Browns owner has contingency plan to keep team in family

David Richard-US PRESSWIRE

The federal investigation into Pilot Flying J could force Jimmy Haslam to give up control of the Browns to his father, Jim Haslam II.

The NFL and Jimmy Haslam have developed a contingency plan that would put Haslam's father, Jim Haslam II, in charge of the the Cleveland Browns if Haslam is forced to step down as team owner as a result of the federal investigation into his truck stop company, Pilot Flying J, according to Sports Business Daily. The elder Haslam, 83, founded Pilot in 1958, and has not been linked to the ongoing investigation.

Haslam's company is accused of defrauding customers by refusing to pay gas and diesel rebates. Haslam has maintained that he was unaware of the alleged fraud, and has said that he has no worries that the investigation will force him to give up the Browns. Apparently, the NFL would like the owner to be prepared just in case.

Haslam's father currently owns a portion of the Browns, though not enough to be considered a general partner by NFL rules. If put in charge of the organization, he would be seen, essentially, as "an executive whose owner has designated that person authority and voting rights" according to Sports Business Daily.

Jim Haslam II does not currently contribute much to the day-to-day proceedings of Pilot Flying J. He controlled the company until 1997, when he ceded control to his son.

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