The NBA's players association announced on Friday that it had placed union head Billy Hunter on leave of absence.
The move came as the result of an independent report into Mr. Hunter's practices as the organization's leader published last month by lawyers at Paul, Weiss. While the report, commissioned by a special committee formed by the union, found no illegal use of funds, it did allege that Mr. Hunter knew that his contract—for $15 million over five years—hadn't been properly approved by the players.
The report also was critical that some of Mr. Hunter's relatives had jobs in the organization, and about Mr. Hunter's spending on gifts and travel.
Mr. Hunter, who has led the union since 1996, said last month that he believed his contract to be valid.
Mr. Hunter's attorney, Thomas Ashley, said Friday his client had been treated unfairly and had already taken steps to improve the union. "I am deeply troubled by the lack of fundamental fairness shown my client by a group whose authority to take such action is highly questionable. The act of placing my client on administrative leave is not supported in either the constitution or bylaws of the NBPA," Mr. Ashley said. "Furthermore, Mr. Hunter was not given any opportunity to respond to the Paul Weiss report prior to the time that a decision was made to place him on administrative leave."
After the report came out, the union announced that Mr. Hunter had fired his daughter and daughter-in-law. Mr. Hunter noted in a statement that these measures were being taken "although the report noted that both individuals were highly qualified, not overpaid, and contributing members of the NBPA staff." At the same time, Mr. Hunter announced the league would no longer use a financial institution that employs his son, which the report labeled a conflict of interest. Mr. Hunter's family members couldn't be reached for comment.
Players around the league received the news of the change Friday in a memo, in which union President Derek Fisher said, "This organization has been disrupted, and we will no longer tolerate it. Immediate action was necessary and taken to protect you." The union declined to comment further.
Ron Klempner, a longtime union lawyer, was appointed acting executive director of the union. The players are scheduled to have meetings in Houston later this month during All-Star Weekend, when they are expected to address the issue of new leadership. The union is also forming an interim executive and advisory committee, according to Mr. Fisher.
Write to Chris Herring at Chris.Herring@wsj.com
A version of this article appeared February 2, 2013, on page A6 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: NBA Union Chief Put On Leave By Players.