Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has had a change of heart regarding his succession plan for the NFL franchise. The 82-year-old has notified the league of his intentions to change his successor of the Dolphins to his daughter, Jennifer Ross, according to the Sports Business Journal. The process has not yet been completed, but Ross has reportedly made it clear to NFL executives of his desire to pass the team on to his children. Before this development, Dolphins vice chairman Bruce Beal would have had the opportunity to ascend to be the club's owner.
Of course, both Ross and Beal are no strangers to seeing their names in headlines over the last few months. Back on Aug. 2, the two were suspended and fined by the NFL for "tampering violations of unprecedented scope and severity."
That punishment stemmed from the club pursuing both Tom Brady and Sean Payton. The league's findings noted that the organization had "impermissible communications" with Brady on two different occasions. In August 2019, Beal had contact with Brady while the quarterback was still a member of the Patriots. Later, both Beal and Ross were "active participants" in discussions with Brady following the 2021 season while the future Hall of Famer was still with the Buccaneers.
Beal was suspended from league meetings for the remainder of the 2022 season and fined $500k. Meanwhile, Ross was suspended through Oct. 17, 2022, is not allowed to attend league meetings until 2023, removed from all league committees indefinitely, and fined $1.5 million. The Dolphins were also docked a 2023 first-round pick and a third-rounder in 2024.
The Sports Business Journal reports that Ross deciding to have his daughter succeed him is not related to the latest punishment by the league and possibly even predates the investigation entirely. While that may be the case, a transition to Jennifer Ross, who already has an ownership stake in the team, may be the cleaner approach.
In 2016, the NFL approved a plan that would allow Beal the first right to buy the Dolphins in the event of Ross' death or sale. However, owners would have to vote again to allow him to take control of the team, and it wouldn't be a surprise to learn that these tampering charges could've been a major speed bump.
In 2008, Ross bought 50% of the Dolphins franchise and later purchased an additional 45% in January 2009 at a total value of $1.1 billion.