The Denver Broncos on Monday announced the addition of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the team’s new ownership group.
Rice is the second Black woman to join the group, which is primarily made up of members of the Walton and Penner families, who amassed their fortunes largely through their stakes in Walmart. The partnership already included Mellody Hobson, the co-chief executive of Ariel Investments and the board chair of Starbucks Corporation.
The group reached a tentative agreement in June to buy the Broncos for $4.65 billion, more than twice the price of the previous record for an N.F.L. franchise. The purchase is expected to be approved before the start of the 2022 regular season.
The league has denied the claim.
The N.F.L. has instituted a number of measures to increase diversity in senior positions, including launching in March a six-member diversity advisory committee to review its policies, and broadening the Rooney Rule, a leaguewide guideline to increase the number of interviews for diverse candidates for head coaches and senior positions such as general manager and team president.
Jason Wright became the first Black team president when he was hired by the Washington Commanders in 2020. Last week, the Las Vegas Raiders hired Sandra Douglass Morgan as team president, the first Black woman to hold that post.
But increasing diversity among the league’s owners, who are overwhelmingly white, has been more difficult because teams change hands infrequently and because their high prices limit the number of potential buyers. In February, N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell said he hoped the Broncos’ new ownership would include a person of color. At their annual meeting in March, the league’s owners said that prospective ownership groups would be looked at favorably if they included “diverse individuals who would have a significant equity stake in and involvement with the club, including serving as the controlling owner of the club.”
Hobson and Rice are the first two Black women to own part of a team, though no Black men or women have ever been the principal owners of a team. There are only two people of color who have majority stakes in N.F.L. teams — Shahid Khan of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who is Pakistani American, and Kim Pegula, the Korean American co-owner of the Buffalo Bills.
Several other N.F.L. teams are principally owned by women, but in all those instances their ownership stakes were acquired via inheritance or by marriage.