NBA approves sale of Jazz to Utah technology entrepreneur

FILE - In this Feb. 2, 2018, file photo, Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith poses in the Hub at the company's headquarters in Orem, Utah. The NBA's Board of Governors unanimously approved the sale Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, of the Utah Jazz to a group led by technology entrepreneur Ryan Smith, ending the Miller family’s 35-year run as owners of the franchise. (Jeffrey D. Allred/The Deseret News via AP, File)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The NBA’s Board of Governors unanimously approved the sale Friday of the Utah Jazz to a group led by technology entrepreneur Ryan Smith, ending the Miller family’s 35-year run as owners of the franchise.

FILE – This March 14, 2019, file photo shows Gail Miller, owner and chairwoman of the Utah Jazz, after addressing the crowd before an NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, in Salt Lake City. The majority interest of the Utah Jazz is being sold to technology entrepreneur Ryan Smith, a move that when formally approved by the NBA will end the Miller family’s 35-year run as owners of the franchise. The Jazz said Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020, that “definitive agreements” have been struck with Smith on the sale of the team, Vivint Arena, the team’s G League affiliate and management of a Triple-A baseball club. Part of those agreements call for the team to remain in Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

The deal includes Vivint Arena, the team’s G League affiliate and management of a Triple-A baseball club. Part of the sales agreement calls for the team to remain in Utah.

“Ryan Smith is a forward-thinking, community-minded entrepreneur and business leader who will be a fantastic addition to our league,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.

Smith is a cofounder of the Utah-based firm Qualtrics, which was sold to SAP for $8 billion in an all-cash deal finalized last year.

He expressed excitement in a statement released through the team. “I grew up as a big Jazz fan, and that makes this day even more special,” said Smith, whose wife, Ashley, is also part of the ownership group. “The Jazz have a phenomenal leadership team who will continue to guide the organization. We are all committed to building, and to building in Utah.”

Larry and Gail Miller bought 50% of the Jazz in May 1985 for $8 million, then bought the remaining 50% the following year for $14 million. Forbes, in its annual valuation of franchises, said the Jazz were worth $1.55 billion earlier this year. The Miller family will retain a stake in the franchise.

The Jazz have the NBA’s third-best record since the 1985-86 season, their .588 winning percentage in that span trailing only San Antonio (.633) and the Los Angeles Lakers (.596).

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