NBAPA Chief Billy Hunter Got $600,000 Raise During Lockout

While the NBA was shut down in a labor dispute, Players Association executive director Billy Hunter was paid $3 million in salary during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012, a 25 percent raise that went into effect with the start of last year’s player lockout, according to government filings.

The filing with the U.S. Dept. Of Labor, according to USA Today, raised new questions about the finances and business practices of the union, which already is under a business review and is the target of a U.S. Attorney’s office investigation.

Hunter, the longest-tenured union chief among the four major sports leagues, made $2.4 million in salary for the 12 months concluding June 30, 2011 — the day before NBA owners imposed a lockout that lasted 149 days. Hunter’s $600,000 raise, on top of payments to and business relationships with several family members that already have been made public, is expected to only fuel the uncertainty surrounding the union leader’s future.

The NBPA declined comment on the labor filing, which was posted overnight on the Dept. of Labor website.

A review of the union’s finances and business practices, being conducted by the New York firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, is not yet complete, league sources have told A concurrent probe by the U.S. Attorney’s office also is ongoing.

The public scrutiny has been on allegations of nepotism stemming from union relationships with a financial firm where Hunter’s son, Todd, is a partner; the employment of Hunter’s daughter, Robyn, and daughter-in-law, Megan Inaba, on the union staff; and payments to a Washington, D.C. law firm that employs another of his daughters. Union president Derek Fisher raised questions about those and other issues after the lockout ended, but was rebuffed by the rest of the executive committee and asked to resign. He refused, and has no intention of stepping down with two years left on his term, sources said.

But the issues being examined by the law firm conducting the business review go beyond Hunter’s rift with Fisher and the charges of nepotism, a person familiar with the probe told Hunter’s salary, and the structure of the union constitution and bylaws that resulted in its approval, are among the other issues being examined, the person said.

Regardless of the outcome of the business review and federal probe, sweeping changes are on the way for the players’ association, which could have as many as seven of the nine seats on the executive committee up for election. On recent conference calls with committee members and player reps, union officials indicated that such elections could be postponed until All-Star weekend.

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