New Recording Academy CEO Deborah Dugan has been put on administrative leave, effective immediately, a spokesperson for the organization confirmed to Rolling Stone. Dugan was appointed the position last August. She replaced Neil Portnow, who headed up the organization for 17 years.
“In light of concerns raised to the Recording Academy™ Board of Trustees, including a formal allegation of misconduct by a senior female member of the Recording Academy team, the Board has placed Recording Academy President and CEO Deborah Dugan on administrative leave, effective immediately,” the organization told Rolling Stone in a statement. “The Board has also retained two independent third-party investigators to conduct independent investigations of the allegations.
“The Board determined this action to be necessary in order to restore the confidence of the Recording Academy’s Membership, repair Recording Academy employee morale, and allow the Recording Academy to focus on its mission of serving all music creators,” the statement continued. “Board Chair Harvey Mason Jr. will serve as interim President and CEO pending the conclusion of the investigation. The Recording Academy Board of Trustees is committed to fostering a safe, diverse, and inclusive workplace, music industry, and society.”
A rep for the Academy declined to comment further on Dugan’s exit. “What has been reported is not nearly the story that needs to be told,” Dugan’s lawyer, Bryan Freedman, said in a statement. “When our ability to speak is not restrained by a 28-page contract and legal threats, we will expose what happens when you ‘step up’ at the Recording Academy, a public nonprofit.”
Portnow vacated his position last summer following heavy criticism after making comments following the 60th Grammy Awards that women should “step up” if they want to be better represented in the music industry. In May 2019, Dugan was announced as his successor. The former (RED) executive was the organization’s first female president coming in at a contentious time when the Grammy presenters were being criticized heavily for its lack of diversity among nominees and winners. Following the announcement of her appointment she was asked how much influence the Academy would have in addressing institutional gender and racial biases. Portnow had previously said the Academy did not control the music that’s created or who is hired within the music industry.
“I think all the issues that Neil [has mentioned] led to an important larger conversation and that is the conversation of course that we will have, about women and diversity in music, and where we take it and how we use this platform to affect positive change is very important to me,” Dugan said at the time. “That’s one of the questions I’m most excited to answer in this job.”
Dugan’s administrative leave takes place just 10 days from the Grammy Awards ceremony, which will be held at Staples Center on January 26th.