Tom Benson Wins Trial, Will Stay Pelicans Owner

A judge has ruled Pelicans owner Tom Benson mentally competent, stymieing an effort from one side of his divided family to strip him of control of the team and the NFL’s New Orleans Saints, reports Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune (Twitter link). Daughter Renee Benson and grandchildren Rita and Ryan LeBlanc had asked a civil court to declare Tom Benson mentally unfit to run his sports holdings, as Katherine Sayre and Andy Grimm detail in a full story for The Times-Picayune. The maneuver was similar to the one that allowed Shelley Sterling to seize control of the Clippers from husband Donald Sterling and sell the team to Steve Ballmer, though in this case, the effort was unsuccessful. It’s not immediately clear whether an appeal is forthcoming, Sayre and Grimm write.

Duncan reported in January that the family members had filed suit against the owner, shortly after Benson restructured his succession plan for the teams so that wife Gayle Benson would take control upon his death. Rita Benson LeBlanc had previously been in line to inherit control.

The Pelicans have moved forward despite the controversy, hiring coach Alvin Gentry after making the playoffs under former bench boss Monty Williams. The ruling will ostensibly remove some of the question marks hanging around the franchise, and the timing is fortuitous for the Pelicans, as Anthony Davis becomes eligible for a rookie scale extension on July 1st.

For more on how the judge’s decision affects the Saints, see this story at Pro Football Rumors, our sister site.

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