Benson's granddaughter off Saints board
NEW ORLEANS - Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson began work Thursday to transition ownership and control of the New Orleans Saints to his wife, and away from his other family members.
The first steps reported by WWL were removing his granddaughter, Rita Benson Leblanc, from her position of Saints vice chairman of the board. Her brother Ryan was also removed from his position with the franchise.
Benson Leblanc had been groomed for years by her grandfather to inherit the Saints franchise ownership after his death, plans which Benson changed with an announcement late Wednesday night. Ownership will instead go to Benson's wife Gayle, whom he married 10 years ago.
"This is something I have thought about and prayed about for a while now," Benson said in a statement. "This is about the legacy of these two teams and everything we have done for the good of the city of New Orleans and our region - my primary goal is to give the organization the foundation to live on after me for many, many years."
The statement also dictates other management in the Saints' office would remain unaffected, with Dennis Lauscha as president, Mickey Loomis as executive vice president/general manager, Greg Bensel as senior vice president of communications/broadcasting, Jean-Paul Dardenne as senior vice president of corporate partnerships, Ben Hales as senior vice president of marketing & business development, Ed Lang as senior vice president/CFO, Vicky Neumeyer as senior vice president/general counsel and Mike Stanfield as senior vice president of sales.
Benson has owned the Saints since 1985 and the Pelicans since 2012 and has battled health issues in recent years. He says he intends to continue representing the teams at owners' events and league meetings.