The L.A. Sparks relieved executive vice president and general manager Penny Toler of her duties, the team announced on Friday.
"On behalf of ownership and the entire Sparks organization, I’d like to thank Penny Toler for a successful and historic tenure with the organization,” Managing partner and governor Eric Holoman said in a statement. “Penny is a foundational figure in the growth of the WNBA and helped lead our franchise to perennial playoff success and multiple titles. We wish her nothing but the best moving forward.”
Holoman will fill in as interim GM, and the search for Toler's replacement will begin immediately.
ESPN's Ramona Shelburne reports coach Derek Fisher is expected to remain in his position next year. The Sparks were reportedly considering front office changes for some time, but the turmoil at the end of the season was the "final straw."
The Sparks were swept in the WNBA semifinals this year, and sources said Toler delivered a postgame speech after Game 2 that include the "N-word" multiple times.
"By no means did I call my players the N-word," Toler told Shelburne recently. "I'm not saying that I couldn't have used it in a context. But it wasn't directed at any of my players.
"It's unfortunate I used that word. I shouldn't. Nobody should. ... But you know, like I said, I'm not here to defend word by word by word what I said. I know some of the words that I'm being accused of are embellished."
Toler exits after spending 20 years as the Sparks' general manager. The team reached the playoffs 18 times during her tenure and won WNBA titles in 2001, 2002 and 2016. She's a founding member of the WNBA and scored the first basket in league history. She played with the Sparks from 1997-1999.