Grammys CEO Deborah Dugan Put on Immediate 'Administrative Leave' Amid Misconduct Allegations

The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences placed its president and CEO, Deborah Dugan, on administrative leave less than two weeks before this year's Grammy Awards ceremony. A statement released by the Recording Academy's board of trustees referred to "a formal allegation of misconduct by a senior female member of the Recording Academy team" and said that it placed Dugan "on administrative leave, effective immediately."

The statement did not offer any specifics on the nature of the allegations or who is accused of committing the misconduct.

The statement also noted that the Board "retained two independent third-party investigators to conduct independent investigations of the allegations." Board Chair Harvey Mason Jr. will serve as interim President and CEO in the meantime, the organization said. Mason Jr. is a music producer who has worked with recording artists like Chris Brown and Jennifer Hudson.

deborah-dugan_getty-John Lamparski : Stringer
(Photo: John Lamparski / Stringer / Getty, Getty)

Dugan took over as president and CEO on Aug. 1, making her the organization's first woman CEO. She replaced Neil Portnow, who led the Grammys for 17 years, but sparked controversy with a comment after teh 2018 show that women needed to "step up" to get ahead in the music industry.

A source told Billboard that Dugan hired litigator Bryan Freedman to represent her. Other sources told the publication that Dugan had not been a good fit as the Grammy's CEO almost from the start, despite a thorough and months-long search.

"Once there were some indications that she was not cooperating with the staff and the board, everything unraveled surprisingly quickly and in a very complex way," a source close to the Recording Academy said. "It wasn't like a single incident. It was a series of issues. I think it goes way beyond not just being a good fit."

"It's heartbreaking for people who care deeply about the organization that someone they trusted to fill that position would so quickly become so at odds with the organization," the source said.

However, another source said that the staff, many of whom are loyal to Dugan's predecessor Portnow, and the board were so "entrenched" in their own way of thinking that Dugan was met with resistance at every turn and unable to move forward.

"She was a huge source of discomfort for everyone there because she believed she was coming to be an agent of change, but they don't really want change at all," the source said. "They had entrenched ways of doing business and anything she tried to change was met with 'That's not how we do it.'"

Before coming to the Academy, Dugan headed Bono's (RED) organization that focuses on combating HIV/AIDS, and had previously been president of Disney Publishing Worldwide and executive vide president at EMI/Capitol Records.

In December, Dugan told NPR she was leading a "major restructuring to allow for immediate diversity."


This year's Grammy Awards ceremony will feature performances from the likes of Lizzo, who tops the list with eight nominations, Aerosmith; Camila Cabello; Billie Eilish; H.E.R.; The Jonas Brothers; Demi Lovato; Bonnie Raitt; Roalía, Run DMC; Blake Shelton; Gwen Stefani; Tyler, The Creator; and Charlie Wilson.

The 2020 Grammy Awards will air live from the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Jan. 26 at 8 p.m. ET.