Clay Bennett.jpg

Seattle SuperSonics owner Clay Bennett smiles during a news conference in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, July 2, 2008. The Sonics will move to Oklahoma City for the 2008-09 season as part of a settlement announced Wednesday with the city of Seattle. The agreement ends a contentious relationship that culminated in a recent six-day federal trial over terms of the team's KeyArena lease. The judge was scheduled to rule Wednesday afternoon. (AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Bryan Terry)

OKLAHOMA CITY — The health reasons affecting the resignation of Clay Bennett as chairman of the state board of regents, effective immediately, as announced at Thursday’s board meeting in Oklahoma City, is not threatening Bennett’s role with the group that owns the Oklahoma City Thunder.

That was the message delivered by Thunder spokesperson Dan Mahoney, who offered an official statement from the organization following an inquiry from The Transcript.

“Last spring, Mr. Bennett informed Gov. [Mary] Fallin that he would serve another year on the board with his term to expire in March,” the statement reads. “He has endured health issues over the past 18 months which have required his full and ongoing attention.

“He has continued to improve and is hopeful for a full recovery. Clay is fully active in all his business interests, including the Thunder.”

As Wednesday’s meeting began, it was OU regents vice-chairman Leslie J. Rainbolt-Forbes, who began the meeting by announcing Bennett’s resignation.

Bennett, reportedly, underwent brain surgery prior to the 2017-18 NBA season.

“I certainly wish for him, from myself, for all of us, save travels, good health and Godspeed,” Rainbolt-Forbes told the Transcript on Wednesday.

None of the content from the Thunder’s statement — the original time frame for his remaining on the board of regents, the length of his ongoing health battle, and his fitness to remain “fully active” in his business interests — have previously been expressed so directly.

Bennett was instrumental in bringing the Thunder to Oklahoma City, originally leading the group — Professional Basketball Club LLC — that purchased the Seattle SuperSonics from former (and future) Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz in 2006.

The Thunder moved to Oklahoma City prior to the 2008-09 season. Bennett remains the chairman of the group.

Horning is senior sports columnist for The Norman Transcript, a CNHI News Service publication.