John Kimball, one of the Real Salt Lake founding executives, has been appointed interim president of Utah Soccer Holdings, Major League Soccer has announced.
Kimball has assumed the role after billionaire businessman Dell Loy Hansen began the process to sell Utah Soccer Holdings, and its entire portfolio of properties, following a troubling racism controversy last week.
Utah Soccer Holdings is the entity that owns Real Salt Lake, Utah Royals FC of the National Women’s Soccer League, and Real Monarchs of the United Soccer League Championship.
Hansen has taken a leave of absence from Utah Soccer Holdings, having been put under investigation by both MLS and the NWSL for alleged racist comments and a pattern of alleged racist behavior over a period of years.
Meanwhile, Real Salt Lake chief business officer Andy Carroll is also taking an indefinite leave of absence as allegations of a toxic work environment at the club continue, including claims of sexist behavior and workplace misconduct.
Kimball is taking a temporary leave from his role as president of Vivint Smart Home Arena, the home venue of the National Basketball Association’s Utah Jazz, to take up the position.
He will have exclusive management responsibility and control of operations for the organization, and report to MLS commissioner Don Garber during the ownership transition period. In addition, Kimball will serve as the club’s representative on the MLS Board of Governors.
Kimball was part of Real Salt Lake’s executive team for a decade, joining the club as senior vice president of business operations in 2003. After departing Real Salt Lake in early 2013, Kimball worked in the media business before joining Larry H. Miller Sports and Entertainment – the owners of the Jazz and Vivint Smart Home Arena – in 2015.
“John Kimball is an experienced sports executive who brings extraordinary leadership and stability to the organization,” Garber said in a statement. “John was instrumental in the launch of Real Salt Lake and has a deep connection to the local soccer community. We thank the Miller Family and Larry H. Miller Sports and Entertainment CEO Steve Starks for their support during this important transition period.”
Larry H. Miller Sports and Entertainment is reportedly one of the suitors for Utah Soccer Holdings. It is unclear if Kimball’s appointment makes a deal with the organization more likely.