Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank was recently interrogated by his company’s board over what it deemed the concerning level of involvement that Plank allowed MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle to have in company affairs, according to the Wall Street Journal’s Khadeeja Safdar. According to the Journal, Ruhle flew with UA staff on Plank’s private jet and also advised him on how he should respond to a number of controversies over the past few years.
Plank apparently took Ruhle’s advice over management’s on how to deal with everyone roasting Steph Curry’s ugly-ass shoes in 2016, when he forbade employees from publicly discussing the backlash and instead allowed Ruhle to talk about the shoes on TV first. He also buddied up with Donald Trump despite people at the company telling him not to, also at Ruhle’s urging. Plank quickly had to apologize for that after the public got mad at him:
Soon after Mr. Trump’s election, Mr. Plank joined one of the White House’s CEO councils and later praised Mr. Trump in a television interview, amid the furor over the president’s proposal to ban travel from some Muslim-majority countries. Mr. Plank’s comments drew fire from some Under Armour athletes, including [Curry].
Plank had to explain himself to the company’s board after they viewed emails showing an “intimate relationship” between the two. It’s not clear whether or not Plank was disciplined, and anonymous execs characterized the relationship as “problematic.” An Under Armour flack said, “Mr. Plank and Ms. Ruhle are friends,” later adding, “There are clear lines between the company and Mr. Plank’s private interests, and he is accountable to the board for this.”
This is not the first time Plank has gotten UA into hot water for his personal involvement in company affairs; Safdar reported late last year that Plank also stocked the top ranks of the company with his friends, including his brother Scott, who left UA quietly amid sexual misconduct allegations in 2012.