Clippers to get CEO after Sterling is banned for life

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling attends a game against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles Jan. 10, 2014.
Kirby Lee-USA Today Sports

NEW YORK - The NBA said Saturday it will appoint a chief executive officer to supervise the Los Angeles Clippers' operations.

On Tuesday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life for racist comments made on an audio recording, fined him $2.5 million and urged league owners to force him to sell the team.

"The best way to ensure the stability of the team during this difficult situation is to move quickly and install a CEO to oversee the Clippers organization," Mike Bass, the NBA executive vice president of communications, said in a statement. "The process of identifying that individual is underway."

The decision was welcomed by Sterling's wife, Rochelle, who said she was fully committed to making the Clippers the best team in the NBA.

"I spoke with Commissioner Adam Silver this week to tell him that I fully supported his recent swift and decisive action," Rochelle Sterling said.

"We also agreed at that time that, as a next step, both the league and the team should work together to find some fresh, accomplished executive leadership for the Clippers. I welcome his active involvement in the search for a person of the utmost character, proven excellence and a commitment to promoting equality and inclusiveness."

A forced sale would require approval of three-fourths of the league's owners.

On Thursday, a subcommittee of 10 NBA team owners agreed to move forward as "expeditiously as possible." CBS News has learned the group is fairly confident it can get the necessary 23 out of 30 owner votes required to force the sale.

According to a CBS News/New York Times poll, 49 percent of all Americans think Sterling should be forced to sell the team, but the poll also shows that support is divided along racial lines.

Most African-Americans - 71-percent - think he should be forced to sell while only 43 percent of whites do.

But University of Southern California law professor Michael Chasalow said the move could eventually impact other team owners.

"The question is what if someone does something in the future that, maybe it outrages half the country, not all of the country," said Chasalow. "Is that also going to be grounds to force somebody to sell? How far does it go?"