Deborah Dugan, the recently appointed chief executive of the Recording Academy, was put on administrative leave just 10 days before the Grammys.
The Academy didn’t give any detailed specifics about the circumstances around Dugan’s removal, only saying in a statement on Thursday night that Dugan had been removed “in light of concerns raised to the Recording Academy board of trustees, including a formal allegation of misconduct by a senior female member of the Recording Academy team.”
There is some speculation that Dugan was removed due to a complaint made by an assistant concerning a “bullying management style” that caused the assistant to take a leave of absence. The Academy stated that two private investigators would be looking into the allegations.
However, Dugan’s lawyer alluded to greater corruption within the Academy.
“What has been reported is not nearly the story that needs to be told,” said Dugan’s lawyer, Bryan Freedman on Twitter. “When our ability to speak is not restrained by a 28-page contract and legal threats, we will expose what happens when you ‘step up’ at the Recording Academy, a public nonprofit.”
Interestingly, Dugan’s removal comes just a few weeks after she submitted a memo to the academy’s HR department. According to the New York Times, Dugan cited cause for alarm over suspected financial mismanagement, voting irregularities, “exorbitant and unnecessary” legal bills, and conflicts of interest involving members of the Academy’s board, executive committee and outside lawyers.
Dugan is the first woman to ever head the Recording Academy. Her predecessor, Neil Portnow, had said that female artists needed to “step up” in order to be recognized by the Academy, a sexist statement that ended up leading to his departure and replacement by Dugan.
The Grammys will go on, but scandal seems imminent at the Academy.