May 2 (UPI) — The NFL announced Monday that an independent review found “no evidence” to corroborate allegations made by former head coach Hue Jackson that the Cleveland Browns “paid or otherwise provided incentives to lose games” during the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam fired Jackson just eight games into the 2018 campaign after the coach compiled a 3-36-1 overall record over his two-plus years at the helm of the team.
In February, Jackson alleged that the Browns had a “four-year plan” that incentivized losing during the first two years of his tenure. He later softened those pay-to-lose allegations.
After a 60-day review, the NFL said a team of independent investigators — led by former Securities and Exchange Commission chair Mary Jo White, who also is investigating tanking accusations made against the Miami Dolphins by former coach Brian Flores — determined that “none of the allegations could be substantiated.”
The league said Jackson initially agreed to meet with investigators, but he ultimately did not. Investigators, however, had access to public statements and filings he had previously made, as well as his testimony in a previous arbitration hearing.
The NFL also noted that Jimmy Haslam was interviewed, in addition to other current and former members of the organization. The Browns also provided documents to help aid the investigation.
“The investigation found no evidence to suggest that the Browns’ four-year plan or the club’s ownership or football personnel sought to lose or incentivized losses and made no decisions deliberately to weaken the team to secure a more favorable draft position,” the NFL said in a statement.
The Browns released a brief statement in response to the league’s findings.
“We appreciate the independent investigation led by Mary Jo White and the Debevoise team which brings closure to these allegations that Hue Jackson publicly recanted shortly after they were made and that we’ve known all along are categorically false,” the team said.
“As we’ve previously stated, we welcomed this investigation because the integrity of our game is something that should not be taken lightly and an independent review was crucial in bringing a conclusion to this matter.”
Jackson is now the head football coach at Grambling State.