Steve Ross to leave Dolphins to daughter, not Bruce Beal: report

Related chairman plans to keep NFL franchise in family amid tampering scandal

Related's Stephen Ross and Bruce Beal and the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens (Google Maps, Getty)
Related's Stephen Ross and Bruce Beal and the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens (Google Maps, Getty)

Stephen Ross is calling an audible and passing over Bruce Beal as heir apparent to the Miami Dolphins.

Punting earlier plans, the Related Companies chairman and majority owner of the Dolphins since 2009 now intends to leave the team to his daughter, Jennifer Ross, after his death, Sports Business Journal reported.

Beal, Related’s president and a vice chairman of the Dolphins, had been considered Ross’ successor since 2016, when owners of the NFL’s other 31 franchises approved a plan that gave him first dibs on purchasing the team should Ross either die or decide to sell. Jennifer Ross already owns a minority stake in the franchise.

The change in plans, reportedly in the works for a few months and not yet finalized, was revealed a week after the NFL punished Ross and Beal for violating the league’s anti-tampering policies in their efforts to recruit Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady and New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton. A source told SBJ that Ross’ decision to keep the Dolphins in the family was not related to the tampering probe.

Ross and Beal jointly declined to comment, according to a Related spokesperson.

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The NFL suspended Ross through mid-October and fined him $1.5 million, while Beal was fined $500,000. The team was also stripped of its 2023 first-round draft pick and its third-round draft pick in 2024. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said at the time that investigators found tampering violations of “unprecedented scope and severity.”

Despite the 2016 succession plan, Beal would still need to be approved by league owners before taking a controlling stake in the team. The NFL’s investigation and punishment could complicate that vote.

The investigation began in February, when former Dolphins coach Brian Flores sued the NFL, alleging racist hiring practices and accusing Ross of offering to pay the coach to lose games and improve the team’s draft position. Ross denied the allegations as “false and malicious.”

Beal has worked for Ross since 1995, according to Related’s website. The New York-based development firm has been ramping up in South Florida, with major projects in the works from Miami to West Palm Beach. Ross also owns a minority stake in Jorge Pérez’s Related Group, a mega condo developer based in Miami. Perez is also a vice chairman of the Dolphins.

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– Katherine Kallergis