KUSA – It’s not easy cutting through the melodrama that has unfolded between Pat Bowlen’s daughter Beth Bowlen Wallace and those in charge of the Pat Bowlen Trust.
But there is one black-and-white issue that is at the center of this disagreement: Has Bowlen Wallace met the criteria that qualifies her to become controlling owner of the Denver Broncos, as she claims?
Or has she so far fallen short of meeting the criteria, as the Trust stated in a strongly worded response to her press release announcing her intent Thursday?
If only it were black-and-white.
According to the criteria gathered by 9NEWS from family sources, it appears Bowlen Wallace has met several components, but it could be interpreted she has fallen short in meeting the standards of others.
About the criteria. The Pat Bowlen Trust -- which is controlled by trustees Joe Ellis, the Broncos’ chief executive officer and president; Rich Slivka, the team’s general counsel, and attorney Mary Kelly -- has been authorized to appoint one of Pat Bowlen’s seven children to become his successor as the Broncos’ principal owner.
To earn the right to succeed their father, the child must become qualified according to the criteria written by Bowlen himself before he was afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease, and carried out by his trustees.
A look at the criteria and Bowlen Wallace’s credentials:
- Education component, where an advanced degree is encouraged
It would seem Bowlen Wallace has met this point as she received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado and law degree from the University of Denver in 2016.
It’s unclear whether the Trust expects the degree to become applicable. Bowlen Wallace is not yet a practicing attorney, although she is putting some of her advanced law classes to use in the business she shares with her husband.
- Five years employment with the Broncos or NFL
This is where Bowlen Wallace falls short, at least by the letter of the criteria. She was employed for a little more than three years with the Broncos as a director of special projects before leaving in 2015.
She was involved in the development of the Ring of Fame Plaza. Otherwise, the position primarily dealt with community events.
PREVIOUS | Beth Bowlen Wallace wants control of Broncos
Bowlen Wallace has said she left to pursue her law degree and it was her understanding the shortfall of team employment could be made up through outside leadership positions.
The statement from the Trust and Ellis on Thursday inferred Bowlen Wallace may have been fired, saying she was “fully informed as to why her employment with the team ended in 2015.’’
- Financial and business acumen
Bowlen Wallace ran her own wedding planning and event management company, Social Butterfly, in Hawaii for several years in the 2000s.
She was named Wedding Planner of the Year in 2007-08 by Best of Honolulu Magazine. She folded the company after 2008 to move to Denver to be closer to her father, who by then was experiencing early symptoms of Alzheimer's.
Bowlen Wallace and her husband John Wallace also founded their own oil and gas firm, Reign Energy Partners, which is now Joseph Energy, as it’s a contract-based company.
Again, whether Bowlen Wallace meets this component could be open to interpretation.
- Experience in positions of leadership
With Social Butterfly, Bowlen Wallace had a handful or employees, but she managed up to 200 to 300 employees a day for larger corporate events.
It’s possible the Trust may view this as not enough qualification to run a franchise that was most recently valued at $2.6 billion by Forbes Magazine.
- An overarching, subjective component to the criteria that calls for the trustees to make judgments on character, honesty and integrity
Bowlen Wallace has said she’d let her reputation in the community and her commitment to honoring her father’s legacy speak for itself.
How the trustees evaluate Bowlen Wallace in these subjective categories remains unknown. But it can be assumed she did not endear herself to the trustees by essentially circumventing the Trust by issuing a press release Thursday to announce her intent to take control of the team.
Bowlen Wallace's intent to run the team has been endorsed by Pat Bowlen's brothers Bill and John and her older sister Amie. Broncos' general manager John Elway came out Friday issuing his support for Ellis and the Trust's plan. There has been no comment from Pat Bowlen's wife Annabel or any of their five children.