LA Sparks Seek New Owner

The women's basketball team's General Manager Penny Toler, President Vincent Malcolm and Coach Carol Ross and her staff were laid off, effective Dec. 31.

By Jason Kandel
|  Friday, Jan 3, 2014  |  Updated 7:18 AM PDT
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Los Angeles Sparks' Candace Parker (3) is teased by DeLisha Milton-Jones (8) as they leave the court after they defeated the Seattle Storm in the second half of the third and deciding WNBA first-round basketball game Sunday, Sept. 20, 2009, in Seattle. Parker had 22 points in leading the Sparks to victory 75-64. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

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The family-owned company that controls the Los Angeles Sparks professional women's basketball team will no longer be involved with the team and the WNBA is looking for a new owner, the team's CEO confirmed to NBC4.

"This is a sad time for my family because we want LA to have a thriving championship women's basketball team and, most importantly, we had hoped to continue employing these great behind-the-scenes employees who worked tirelessly on behalf of women's basketball," Sparks CEO Paula Madison said in a statement.

Several potential owners had expressed interest in the Sparks, but it was unclear whether the team would take part in the 2014 season, according to statements made by WNBA President Laurel Richie to the Los Angeles Times.

The team's General Manager Penny Toler, President Vincent Malcolm and Coach Carol Ross and her staff had all been laid off, effective Dec. 31.

Players have been paid and will continue to receive benefits, a WNBA spokesman said.

The Sparks, title winners winners in 2001 and 2002, were one of the original eight teams when the WNBA was formed in 1997.

The team was sold by late Lakers owner Jerry Buss in 2006 to a group led by now-minority owners Kathy Goodman and Carla Christofferson.

In 2007, Madison, as majority owner, became chairman of an ownership group that included Goodman, Christofferson and ex-Sparks player Lisa Leslie.

Madison, former KNBC general manager and NBC executive, is a partner in Williams Group Holdings LLC, a Chicago-based, family-owned company, which, in addition to the basketball team, has investments in media, real estate, and consumer, financial and trading businesses.

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