Ice Cube will replace Roger Mason Jr. as commissioner of the BIG3 after Mason was fired due to corruption allegations, TMZ reports.
Mason's alleged corruption with a pair of Qatari investors is outlined in a letter that was sent to BIG3 players, coaches and staff and was obtained by TMZ.
According to TMZ, Ayman Sabi and Ahmed Al-Rumaihi, who were brought to the BIG3 by Mason, were sued for allegedly cheating the league out of millions in investments. TMZ adds that Mason allegedly refused to cooperate with the BIG3 during the lawsuit because of his relationship with Sabi and Al-Rumaihi, and the league felt he was obligated to take its side because of his role as commissioner.
Additionally, the BIG3 says it has evidence Sabi and Al-Rumaihi were paying for gifts and vacations for some BIG3 employees while not paying the league, according to TMZ. This led to the league insinuating that Mason received these benefits and it corrupted his ability to be commissioner, according to TMZ.
Mason released a statement Monday evening denying the claims against him and accusing the league of promoting a “hostile and racist” work environment. Mason also alleges that BIG3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz, who is white, used a racial slur to refer to black athletes.
“I was terminated by BIG3 in retaliation for legal claims which I made last week in a letter sent by my attorneys to BIG3 Basketball alleging that the League had breached my employment agreement,” Mason said in the statement. “The violations of my agreement centered around BIG3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz, who has been engaged in a malicious, defamatory campaign of disparaging me in an attempt to prevent me from the performance of contractual duties and responsibilities. He has made countless unfounded attacks on my integrity, character, and leadership. The work environment at BIG3 has been hostile and racist resulting in the departure of valuable League personnel. Among other matters, a former employee of BIG3 recently told me that Kwatinetz has repeatedly referred to black athletes as ‘rich niggers.’
“I am proud of the role I took in taking BIG3 from when it was merely a concept and transformed it into a successful basketball organization. I am disappointed at the conduct of Ice Cube and other executives of BIG3 in levelling these desperate manufactured claims against me. It will not derail the success of my legitimate claims against the League.”
Ice Cube, the founder of the league, will operate as commissioner until the league finds a long-term replacement, according to TMZ.
On Monday, the league announced its second season will start June 22 in Houston.