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Atlanta Hawks release open letter of apology to fans

Coming a day after the Atlanta Hawks announced general manager Danny Ferry would be taking an indefinite leave of absence, the team's front office released an open letter of apology to fans today, signed by CEO Steve Koonin.

"Over the course of the last week, the Hawks have let down our players, our employees, our fans and the city we love," the letter reads. "Our shortcomings have been broadly shared — including how we have failed to operate well internally and externally. It has been humbling and…our learnings have just begun."

The team has been embroiled in controversy stemming from racially charged statements made by Ferry, as well as co-owner Bruce Levenson, The Associated Press reports. The Hawks' general manager described player Luol Deng in a June conference call with team owners as a man who "has a little African in him." The internal investigation into those comments also turned up an email written by Levenson two years ago, in which he claims that "the black crowd crowd scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a significant season ticket base."

The open letter from Koonin said the infractions did not stop there, and that the team "must own these shortcomings and failures." Koonin added that the Hawks will hire a chief diversity officer, in addition to reaching out to a variety of community leaders.

You can read the full letter here.