Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald/Getty Ime Udoka
Boston Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck said both the club and Ime Udoka are "moving forward" after the team suspended its head coach for "violations of team policy" for the entirety of the 2022-23 NBA season.
On Friday, Grousbeck, 61, told reporters during a press conference that he feels Udoka's suspension is "well-warranted and appropriate, backed by substantial research and evidence and facts," after bringing in a law firm to conduct an independent investigation that was concluded two days ago.
"I'm standing by the decision and Ime has accepted it and has expressed, in fact, appreciation," Grousbeck told reporters Friday. "I don't want to belabor that, but he's been accepting of that and he's been planning to move forward on this basis. So we are suspending him for the year and it's in place and we're moving forward."
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty Wycliffe Grousbeck
Udoka, 45, led the Celtics to an NBA Finals appearance in his first year as an NBA head coach and was preparing for the upcoming season when news broke that he allegedly had a consensual intimate relationship with a woman on the team's staff, sources confirmed to PEOPLE.
Udoka has been in a relationship with longtime girlfriend, Fatal Affair actress Nia Long, since they met in 2010. The two share a 10-year-old son, Kez Sunday, and confirmed their engagement in May 2015.
In a statement shared exclusively with PEOPLE Friday, Long said: "The outpouring of love and support from family, friends and the community during this difficult time means so much to me. I ask that my privacy be respected as I process the recent events. Above all, I am a mother and will continue to focus on my children."
Grousbeck told reporters Friday that he thinks the suspension will "remind everybody of the importance of the policies and procedures governing workplace behavior" and said that no other team employees have received punishment for the alleged behavior.
He added that "nothing [has] been decided" about Udoka's long-term future with the organization, while Stevens, 45, suggested Celtics players would not have been aware of the situation before the club held a team meeting this week.
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Grousbeck said that he would not "get into our deliberations" when asked why the club decided to suspend Udoka for an entire year rather than fire him outright, taking responsibility for the decision.
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) September 23, 2022
"This felt right, but there's no clear guidelines for any of this," Grousbeck explained. "This is really conscious and gut feel and being here 20 years, and I'm responsible for the decision, ultimately, although it took a lot of advice from partners like Brad and others and we collectively came to this and got there, but it was not clear what to do."
"But it was clear that something substantial needed to be done, in my view," the team owner added. "And it was."
Stevens confirmed during the press conference that Celtics assistant coach Joe Mazzulla will take over as interim head coach for the upcoming season.
"It's not easy timing for him or the rest of the staff, but he's an exceptionally sharp and talented person, and I believe strongly in him and his ability to lead people, his ability to galvanize a room and get behind him, and his ability to organize and understand all that comes with running a team during the season," he told reporters of Mazzulla's new role.