Grammy Prez Quits

National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) president C. Michael Greene has abruptly resigned in the wake of sexual harassment allegations by female executives at the nonprofit organization, which produces the annual Grammy Music Awards show.

Greene's resignation took place Saturday evening, April 27, during an emergency meeting of the organization's board of trustees at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, attended by 38 of the board's 42 members. At issue were the results of an extensive investigation into Greene's behavior by Los Angeles private investigator Jack Palladino. The detective's report was delivered several weeks ago to a Grammy advisory committee chaired by Nashville record producer Garth Fundis.

Under threat of a lawsuit by Greene, Grammy officials wouldn't divulge Palladino's findings. What has been revealed is that in February of this year, the organization's trustees voted to pay $650,000 to settle a lawsuit brought last summer by former executive Jill Marie Geimer, who claimed to have suffered "physical, sexual, and psychological abuse" by Greene over the course of a year. Geimer's attorneys threatened to present two other female executives who claimed that Greene had also harassed them and forced them out of NARAS in the mid-1990s. The New York Post reported that Fundis' committee had examined Palladino's report and found that the sexual harassment allegations had "no merit."

In what the Los Angeles Times described as "an emotional resignation speech," Greene denied all the allegations and cited growing "philosophical differences" between himself and the organization's board. During his 14-year tenure as president of NARAS, the Grammys became a major awards show, and the organization grew ten-fold in both staff and assets. When he took the helm in 1988, the organization had 14 employees, 3500 members, and $4.9 million in assets. NARAS now has about 120 staffers, 17,000 members, and more than $50 million in assets, according to the Times.

Greene recently negotiated a $20 million/year, five-year contract with CBS Television for the broadcast rights to the Grammy Award ceremonies. As NARAS president, he was reportedly the highest-paid nonprofit executive in the US, with a salary of $2 million per year, and perks that included a membership in the Bel Air Country Club and use of a luxury automobile.

Greene's compensation package has been questioned by both journalists and industry insiders in view of its value relative to the organization's charitable disbursements. The Times reported that MusiCares, a NARAS philanthropic wing set up to care for indigent musicians, typically spends three times as much on fund-raising and administration as it gives to the needy. Similar criticism has been directed at many other nonprofits and charity organizations.

Greene will reportedly receive an $8 million severance package, equal to 16% of NARAS's total assets. Garth Fundis will assume the role of interim president while the NARAS board searches for Greene's replacement.