Suns president and CEO Rick Welts to step down

Phoenix Suns president and CEO Rick Welts announced Friday that he is leaving the team on September 15.

"I'm at a point in my life where my focus is to align my personal and professional life in a way I've never been able to achieve before," Welts said. "The most important people in my personal life are not in Phoenix, and the Suns have been completely understanding and supportive of my request to leave in advance of the end of my contract."

Welts, who revealed in a New York Times story on May 16 that he was gay, joined the Suns in 2002 as president and had the additional title of CEO the past two seasons.

"My nine-plus years at the Suns have been incredibly rewarding thanks to a group of employees second to none in professional sports and the support of great ownership," Welts added. "The Suns organization has always been a special place to work, and I leave knowing that will continue to be true in the future."

Welts started his career in the NBA as a ball boy for the Seattle SuperSonics in 1967 and has also spent time in the league office in New York City.

Suns managing partner Robert Sarver said that the business side of the organization will report to general counsel Jason Rowley as the club searches for a new president. Lon Babby will remain the president of basketball operations.