Bryan Colangelo resigns from 76ers; investigators say wife ran Twitter accounts

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Bryan Colangelo resigned as president of basketball operations for the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday in the wake of scandal involving the sharing of sensitive team information through several Twitter accounts.

The independent review by a law firm did not determine that Colangelo operated or was even aware of Twitter accounts that anonymously trashed some of his own players and fellow executives, and defended him against criticism from fans and the sports media.

In a statement, the law firm hired to investigate the situation said:

"As a result of our investigation, we do not believe that Mr. Colangelo established the Twitter accounts or posted content on those accounts. The evidence supports the conclusion that Ms. Barbara Bottini, Mr. Colangelo's wife, established the Twitter accounts and posted content on those accounts," read a statement from Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.

Pictured: Bryan Colangelo and wife Barbara Bottini

"When interviewed, Ms. Bottini admitted establishing and operating the accounts. Forensic evidence corroborates her admissions," the statement continues.

While their investigation could not link Colangelo to the accounts and he denied involvement, they note that, "our investigation was limited and impeded by certain actions taken by Ms. Bottini, including her decision to delete the contents of her iPhone by executing a factory reset of the device prior to surrendering it for forensic review."

However, the investigation also revealed substantial evidence that Colangelo was the source of sensitive, non-public, club-related information contained in certain posts to the Twitter accounts.

"We believe that Mr. Colangelo was careless and in some instances reckless in failing to properly safeguard sensitive, non-public, club-related information in communications with individuals outside the 76ers organization," the firm said.

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Watch the 76ers' full news conference announcing the resignation of President and GM Bryan Colangelo on June 7, 2018.

Some of the tweets took issue with star center Joel Embiid's off-court behavior. Others claimed former center Nerlens Noel was a problem in the locker room and that Jahlil Okafor's injury issues may have scuttled a trade to the Pelicans.

The tweets included defenses of Colangelo's job performance and disparaging comments about his predecessor with the Sixers, Sam Hinkie, and his successor as president of the Toronto Raptors, Masai Ujiri. Other tweets alluded to sensitive information about events leading to Markelle Fultz's bizarre season-long shooting yips.

The tweets mentioned the Sixers have video footage, presumably from their practice facility, of Fultz's trainer, Keith Williams, instructing Fultz to shoot while sitting on a chair lying on his back. Only a small circle of Sixers would have been privy to that information.

In a statement, Colangelo disputed the law firm's findings that he was reckless with sensitive information.

"At no point did I ever purposefully or directly share any sensitive, non-public, club-related information with her," he said.

His statement goes on to say:

"Her actions were a seriously misguided effort to publicly defend and support me, and while I recognize how inappropriate these actions were, she acted independently and without my knowledge or consent. Further, the content she shared was filled with inaccuracies and conjecture which in no way represent my own views or opinions," he said.

"While this was obviously a mistake, we are a family and we will work through this together. Although I am not directly responsible for the actions, I regret this incident occurred and understand that it has become a distraction for the team. Therefore, the organization and I have mutually agreed to part ways," the statement continued.

The 76ers said that coach Brett Brown would oversee basketball operations on an interim basis and the search for a new general manager would begin immediately.

"It has become clear Bryan's relationship with our team and his ability to lead the 76ers moving forward has been compromised," the team said in a statement.

Here is the full statement:

It's a stunning fall for Colangelo, a former two-time Executive of the Year who was expected to lead the improving 76ers into an important summer when they are hoping to pursue LeBron James or another All-Star player to add to a young core that includes Embiid and Ben Simmons.

Colangelo, the son of longtime sports executive Jerry Colangelo, was hired as president of basketball operations in 2016 after Hinkie abruptly resigned. Hinkie was the architect behind what has been called "The Process" - the long-term tearing down and rebuilding of the Sixers.
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Reaction to Bryan Colangelo's resignationfrom 76ers. Gray Hall reports during Action News at 5pm on June 7, 2018.

Colangelo previously served as Raptors general manager, adding the 2007 Executive of the Year award to the one he won two years earlier in Phoenix. But he lost his job there after Toronto missed the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season, and Ujiri took over basketball operations.

ESPN and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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