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There’s No Way Someone at Deloitte Leaked Those Carolina Panthers Financial Statements

Yesterday, Tommy Craggs at Deadspin scooped more sports franchise financial statements, this time those of the Carolina Panthers. As usual, it's great insight into how sports teams are shrewdly run businesses1. Just like any financial statement report, the good stuff is in the notes and Craggs dissects the more interesting points. If you're not up to your eyebrows in spreadsheets, go check it out. 

Today during a follow-up Q&A with University of Michigan sports economist Rodney Fort, a question was asked about Deloitte, the Panthers auditor, and their role in this particular caper:

if this was leaked from someone at Deloitte, what are the potential penalties for the employee and Deloitte?

Professor Fort responded, "Not my area," and since he asserts later to be "a data-driven analyst," we'll dispense with speculation ourselves.

If the leaker was in fact someone at Deloitte they would almost certainly be fired. Unless the (s)he was some kind of rainmaker, I don't see how this person keeps their job. If you'll allow me to put my Big 4 PR hat on for a second — the trust of the firm's clients is absolutely their number one priority, and any breach of that trust would be dealt with in a God-raining-hellfire-on-Sodom-like manner. No exceptions. This is a career limiting move to the getting-your-name-in-Going-Concern power. CURTAINS. FINITO. 

The only problem would be that the Panthers, in all likelihood, would fire Deloitte. If I was wealthy, disagreeable old white guy2 and I discovered that someone at my audit firm leaked sensitive financial information, it would take me about half of a nanosecond to decide and inform them that their services were no longer needed, groaning all the while like Grampa Simpson. And after that call, while I was still stewing, I'd call up my most prickish law firm and sue Deloitte just for fun (and I'm sure there are some legal grounds too). Nothing satisfies old rich white guys like years of spiteful litigation.

The point is, no one wins in this scenario, which is why I'm certain the leak is not at Deloitte. There's virtually nothing to gain by anyone at the firm to put the financials in hands of someone who will make them very, very public.

On the other hand, there's everything to lose — a prestigious client, audit fees, your job, and the office managing partner's seat in the owner's box that has mounted binoculars aimed right at the cheerleaders. You want to be responsible for the old boss losing the one thing that he has to look forward to each fall? I don't think so.

What Can You Learn From The Carolina Panthers’ Leaked Financials? Ask A Sports Economist [Deadspin]

1 Although, I'm a little curious about running such an illiquid business. Yeesh.
2 The latter two are forthcoming, I know.