Joe Ellis

Beth Bowlen Wallace Responds To Joe Ellis’ Remarks

On Thursday, Beth Bowlen Wallace, one of Pat Bowlen‘s seven children, went public with her desire to become the controlling owner of the Broncos when it comes time for the Pat Bowlen Trust to sign over that role. She said, “I have completed the criteria laid out by the trustees, so I felt it was a good time to come out and express my interest and desire to be a part of the organization again.”

Bowlen, the beloved former owner of the Broncos, ceded control of the franchise to the Trust in 2014 due to his ongoing battle with Alzheimer’s disease. The Trust, which is comprised of team president Joe Ellis, team counsel Rich Sliva, and Denver attorney Mary Kelly, is currently handling day-to-day operations, and one of its primary functions is to facilitate the equal transfer of ownership to each of Bowlen’s seven children (from two different marriages) when Bowlen passes away. However, only one of those children will serve as controlling owner, and Ellis has full authority to sell the team to an outside party if such a sale is in the best interest of the children and the team. As such, Ellis is holding all the cards, and as Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post pointed out, he has the full support of the league, as the NFL granted a five-year extension to Ellis as controlling owner delegee in 2017.

So, when Wallace made her wishes known, Ellis was quick to respond, saying, “As trustees honoring the clear wishes of Pat, we have thoroughly evaluated whether Beth is capable of succeeding her father as controlling owner. We have determined that she is not capable or qualified at this time.”

The Trust has a list of criteria to help determine who the next controlling owner will be, and back in January, we learned that only Wallace, 47, and Brittany Bowlen, 28, were the only two Bowlen children who were technically on track to meet those criteria.

Ellis, though, clearly feels that Wallace is not a viable candidate for the job, and Kiszla noted that her efforts to create a public “showdown” with the trustees felt like something of a Hail Mary, especially in light of the fact that Brittany Bowlen has been seen as the frontrunner for some time. In fact, longtime Denver Post columnist Woody Paige says that Brittany Bowlen was the only child that Pat Bowlen ever mentioned as a potential successor (Twitter link via Troy Renck of Denver7 ABC).

But Wallace is not going down without a fight. As Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post writes, Wallace responded to Ellis’ comments by saying, “I am disappointed and disagree with the inaccurate comments made by the trustees. While I can certainly respond to each of those statements, I don’t believe that will be productive. I want to do what is in the best interests of my family, the team and Denver fans. I care deeply for my entire family and I would never do anything to create divisiveness in the family. It remains my sincere hope that I, together with my advisers, can sit down with the trustees and their advisors to resolve this situation. The fans and league deserve this, and we have repeatedly offered to meet with the trustees to accomplish this objective. Therefore, I will not respond to their inaccurate statements at this time.”

After Wallace went public, Broncos GM John Elway addressed the situation by reaffirming his faith in, and support of, Ellis. Brittany Bowlen, meanwhile, has not offered any public comment as of yet, which is probably just as well for her.

Until just a couple of days ago, it looked as if there was little controversy surrounding how the Broncos are being run. Now, though, there is a chance this could get ugly, and as Kiszla notes, another disappointing season on the field in 2018 will only amplify the questions and concerns about fissures in the Bowlen family business.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Beth Bowlen “Not Qualified” To Be Broncos Controlling Owner

Beth Bowlen, the second-oldest child of former Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, has informed Broncos ownership that she is interested in taking over as controlling owner of the team. However, The Pat Bowlen Trust, set up following the owner’s retirement in 2014 from Alzheimer’s disease, told the younger Bowlen that she is not qualified for the position, Nicki Jhabvala writes in an in-depth piece for The Athletic

“I have completed the criteria laid out by the trustees, so I felt it was a good time to come out and express my interest and desire to be a part of the organization again,” Bowlen told The Athletic.

Trust member and team president/CEO Joe Ellis released a more in-depth statement, which said that Beth Bowlen was not in the original leadership plans set out by Pat before his retirement.

“Pat did not designate Beth as a trustee or appoint her to a leadership position, nor did he instruct the trustees to specifically mentor her. He made it clear that his children were not automatically entitled to a role with the team and that they would have to earn that opportunity through their accomplishments, qualifications and character.

“As trustees honoring the clear wishes of Pat, we have thoroughly evaluated whether Beth is capable of succeeding her father as controlling owner. We have determined that she is not capable or qualified at this time.”

Among the qualifications set aside for the successor, Jhabvala mentions “A bachelor’s degree paired with an MBA, J.D. or other advanced business-related degree was one. So was at least five years of “senior management experience” with the NFL, the Broncos or the Stadium Manage Company (SMC), the organization that runs the team’s stadium in Denver.

Ellis also mentioned that Beth Bowlen has declined to meet with the trust for the last two years to discuss her qualifications. She has reportedly given the trust her succession plan which would include a mentorship program with the team’s front office before growing to include each of the other six Bowlen children.

The trust was formed more than a decade before the owner’s diagnosis and includes, along with Ellis, team counsel Rich Slivka and Denver attorney Mary Kelly. Ellis represents the team at league functions.

The plan is still for a member of the Bowlen Family, which has owned the Broncos since 1984, to take over the reins. Brittany Bowlen, 28, considered by many the frontrunner for the job, has yet to comment on the new situation, as 9 News’ Mike Klis tweets. Jhabvala notes a quote from Ellis in 2016, “When a child emerges that has the capability and has earned the right to have that job and take over their father’s chair, the three trustees will determine that.

 

 

Latest On Broncos’ Ownership Plans

In July 2014, Broncos owner Pat Bowlen signed over control of the club due to his ongoing battle with Alzheimer’s disease. At the time, we knew only that the three trustees of the Pat Bowlen Trust — team president Joe Ellis, team counsel Rich Sliva, and Denver attorney Mary Kelly — would handle day-to-day operations, with Ellis serving as the Controlling Owner Delegee/CEO who has full authority to make final decisions for the team.

Pat Bowlen (vertical)

In a piece that is well worth a read, Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post lends a little more clarity to the situation, though she says that the trustees and other interested parties have kept the team’s succession plans confidential out of respect for the Bowlen family. After all, the team is under no obligation to publicly disclose those plans.

Jhabvala notes that Bowlen established a family trust years ago in an effort to eventually transfer ownership of the team to his seven children, each of whom would receive an equal stake in the franchise. Nonetheless, only one of those children would be the sole voice for the team at league meetings and have the title of controlling owner, and the Ellis/Sliva/Kelly trio have full authority to sell the team to an outside party if they deem such a sale to be in the best interest of the team and the Bowlen children. That means that Ellis will have final say on his eventual replacement as top decision-maker.

Jhabvala’s sources indicate that the Pat Bowlen Trust trustees sent Bowlen’s wife, Annabel, and the Bowlen children a list of criteria to help determine who the next controlling owner will be. Those criteria include subjective items like integrity and sound judgment, but they also include requirements like a bachelor’s degree paired with an MBA, J.D., or other advanced business-related degree.

As of now, Jhabvala notes that only two of the seven Bowlen children are currently on track to meet those criteria and, in turn, to become the next controlling owner. One is Brittany Alexandra Bowlen, who is just 28. She worked in the NFL’s junior rotational program in New York, she was an analyst in the Broncos’ business department in 2015, and she completed an internship with the McKinsey & Company consulting firm last year (she expects to accept a full-time position with McKinsey after completing her MBA at Duke University later this year).

The other most likely candidate is Beth Bowlen Wallace, 47, who has a law degree from the University of Denver and who previously worked with the team as a director of special projects for more than three years, the highest position by title held by a Bowlen child.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has stated multiple times that the Broncos continue to be run effectively and that the team is in compliance with league ownership rules. Despite that, and despite the fact that the Broncos have remained a profitable enterprise, Jhabvala observes that the league will not wait forever for a new owner to be named (though there is no clear timetable in place). League rules do make it easier to keep ownership in the family, so as of now, it seems as though the safe money is on Wallace or Brittany Alexandra Bowlen becoming the team’s next controlling owner (assuming that the criteria set forth by the trustees is sufficient and will be largely satisfied). But it is still a fluid situation that bears watching as the Broncos embark on an offseason that they hope will help put an end to a two-year playoff drought.

Owner Pat Bowlen Resigns Control Of Broncos

Longtime Broncos owner Pat Bowlen is giving up control over the franchise due to his ongoing battle with Alzheimer’s disease, according to Mike Klis of the Denver Post. The 70-year-old is placing ownership in the Pat Bowlen Trust that is controlled by non-family members, with team president Joe Ellis assuming control of the club.

It’s a really, really sad day,” Ellis said. “It’s sad for his family, his wife and his seven children. It’s sad for everyone in the organization. And it’s sad for all the Bronco fans who know what Pat Bowlen meant to them as an owner. It’s a day nobody wanted to see happen.”

As the Broncos explain in a statement of their own, Bowlen’s hope is to eventually transfer control of the franchise to one of his seven children. For now, Ellis will have the final say on decisions related to the franchise, having been named the team’s CEO in addition to its president. The veteran executive will represent the Broncos for all league matters.

Bowlen purchased the Broncos franchise in 1984, and has overseen the team’s two Super Bowl wins since then, as well as its other four appearances in the championship game. During Bowlen’s tenure, the club has endured just five losing seasons, and has racked up 16 postseason appearances.