WWE founder and CEO Vince McMahon has “voluntarily stepped back” from the organization amid an “investigation into alleged misconduct” by him and John Laurinaitis, head of talent relations, per The Hollywood Reporter.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week on payments totaling in the millions to silence women who allegedly had sexual relationships with McMahon over the years.
“I have pledged my complete cooperation to the investigation by the special committee, and I will do everything possible to support the investigation. I have also pledged to accept the findings and outcome of the investigation, whatever they are,” McMahon said in a statement, per THR.
“McMahon will retain his role and responsibilities related to WWE’s creative content during this period and remains committed to cooperating with the review underway,” according to a statement from the company.
In the meantime, his daughter Stephanie McMahon has been appointed as WWE’s interim CEO and interim chairwoman. “I love this company and am committed to working with the independent directors to strengthen our culture and our company; it is extremely important to me that we have a safe and collaborative workplace,” she said in her own statement. “I have committed to doing everything in my power to help the special committee complete its work, including marshaling the cooperation of the entire company to assist in the completion of the investigation and to implement its findings.”
According to the WSJ report, the investigation centered on a former employee who was paid $3 million and signed a separation agreement that prevented her “from discussing her relationship with Mr. McMahon or disparaging him” via CNN. The investigation then “unearthed other, older nondisclosure agreements involving claims by former female WWE employees of misconduct by Mr. McMahon,” as well as misconduct claims against Laurinaitis.
Despite McMahon stepping back from his role, the official WWE Twitter announced on Friday that he would appear on that night’s WWE Friday Night SmackDown. Meanwhile, the company promised a third party would “conduct a comprehensive review of the company’s compliance program, HR function and overall culture.”