Rick Welts (born c. 1953) is an American sports executive, serving as the President and Chief Operating Officer for the Golden State Warriors franchise of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Prior to that post, Welts had also served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Phoenix Suns from July 2002 until September 9, 2011. From 1996 to 1999, he was the third-highest-ranking official in the NBA as its Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer.
He worked for the Seattle SuperSonics from 1969 to 1979 in various capacities, from an initial stint as a ballboy to director of public relations when the SuperSonics won their (to date) only NBA Championship in 1979.
Welts later worked at the NBA's league offices from 1982 to 1999, eventually rising to the positions of executive vice president, chief marketing officer and president of NBA Properties. During this time, he was credited with the creation of the NBA All-Star Weekend concept in 1984 and, as the agent for USA Basketball, the marketing campaign for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics "Dream Team." He was named Brandweek's 1998 Marketer of the Year for his work with WNBA President Val Ackerman in launching the WNBA.
On May 15, 2011, Welts publicly came out as gay in an interview with The New York Times. He is the first prominent American sports executive to come out and be openly gay. Welts is a member of the Advisory Board for You Can Play, a campaign dedicated to fighting homophobia in sports.
Welts's first partner, whom he had met in a Seattle restaurant in 1977, died in March 1994. Welts was in another relationship from 1995 to 2009, which ended in part because of Welts' requirement that their relationship be hidden from public view.
On September 9, 2011, Welts announced he was resigning his position with the Suns in order to relocate to northern California and live with his new partner there. A few weeks later, Welts signed on as team president for the Warriors. During his tenure, his leadership would help turn the Warriors into a perennial contender, winning three out of five championships from 2015–2019. On March 31, 2018, it was announced Welts would be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
- Dan Barry (May 15, 2011). "N.B.A. Executive Dares to Leave the Safety of His Shadow Life". The New York Times.
- "SUNS: Rick Welts Bio". Phoenix Suns/NBA. Retrieved May 18, 2011.
- "NBA executive Rick Welts comes out as gay". CNN. May 17, 2011. Archived from the original on May 22, 2011.
- Ben Golliver (May 17, 2011). "Barkley: 'Every player has played with gay guys'". CBS Sports.
- Mike Schmitz (May 15, 2011). "Phoenix Suns president Rick Welts announces he's gay". Valley of the Suns.
- Sam Westmoreland (May 16, 2011). "Rick Welts: Why Suns President Coming out Was the Right Risk to Take". Bleacher Report.
- "Suns prez Rick Welts reveals he's gay". ESPN. May 15, 2011.
- Sean Gregory (May 17, 2011). "Rick Welts, Phoenix Suns CEO, on Why He Came Out". Time.
- "Head of Phoenix Suns Says He's Gay". NPR. May 16, 2011.
- Joanna Malloy (May 16, 2011). "Phoenix Suns president Rick Welts announces he's gay to inspire young athletes suffering in silence". New York Daily News.
- "Staff and Board". You Can Play Project. Retrieved June 12, 2012.
- "Phoenix Suns president and CEO Rick Welts resigns - ESPN". Espn.go.com. September 10, 2011. Retrieved November 2, 2013.
- "Executive Rick Welts ready to help lead Golden State Warriors back to winning - ESPN". Espn.go.com. September 27, 2011. Retrieved November 2, 2013.