Former Braves GM John Coppolella has lifetime ban lifted

John Coppolella and 5 others banned from sports

John Coppolella and 5 others banned from sports

Former Braves general manager John Coppolella had his lifetime ban by Major League Baseball lifted. The move comes more than five years after Coppolella was banned in the fallout of an international signing scandal on Nov. 21, 2017.

Both Coppolella and MLB confirmed a report in The Athletic on Monday that he has been removed from the permanently ineligible list. The decision was made by commissioner Rob Manfred, who also handed down the lifetime ban.

A statement from MLB read: “We can confirm that Mr. Coppolella has been reinstated, given the more than five years he spent on the ineligible list, the contrition he expressed and the other steps he took in response to this matter.”

Coppolella, 44, was banned as part of discipline handed down by the league for major infractions committed in the international free-agent market. He resigned after the 2017 season before the ban was announced.

In handing down the punishment, the league announced that Braves will forfeit rights to 13 international prospects, will be prohibited from signing any international player for more than $10,000 during the 2019-20 signing period and are restricted from signing players in the next two signing periods for contracts with bonuses greater than $300,000.

In a statement to The Athletic, Coppolella said: “I want to thank Commissioner Manfred for granting my application for removal from the Ineligible List. I am deeply appreciative of so many people who have been involved in this process, including (executive vice president of legal and operations) Bryan Seeley and (senior vice president of investigations and deputy general counsel) Moira Weinberg at Major League Baseball.

“I deeply regret and accept accountability for my actions. I want to again apologize to the Atlanta Braves organization, Major League Baseball, its fans, and especially my family and friends. I am grateful for this decision and will strive each day to honor this opportunity.”

Several weeks after the ban was announced, Coppolella did issue a statement. It read: “To this point I have not commented about my departure from the Atlanta Braves. I have been hesitant to speak publicly as my family and I have been devastated and embarrassed by the repercussions of my actions. I realize now that I need to address what happened and speak to those affected.

“To everyone who supports the Atlanta Braves and to everyone who loves the game of baseball, I am deeply sorry.

“Throughout my 20-year baseball career my singular focus has been to help make my team more successful. I am heartbroken that in this case my conduct has done the opposite for the Atlanta Braves organization. I accept full responsibility for my actions.

“To those in the baseball industry, including employees of the Braves and other organizations who feel I was in any way disrespectful or dishonest, I apologize. To the Commissioner’s Office, who spent many extra hours dealing with such an unfortunate situation, please accept my apology. To the Braves fans and to those in the front office who supported me throughout my time as a General Manager, please know that I understand and accept your anger and frustration. To my family, who has stood by my side through this entire ordeal, I love you so much and I am sorry for the pain my actions have caused you.

“I have learned the lesson of a lifetime, as my mistakes have cost me my dream job and my future in the game that I love. I hope that other people, regardless of their profession, use this as a cautionary tale when making their own business decisions. I have been disgraced and humbled, and I will strive for the rest of my life to live honorably so that this is not my defining moment.”

Coppolella’s reinstatement doesn’t mean he will work in baseball again -- it means he can. Coppolella helped the Braves stockpile talent that positioned them for success, but organizations would certainly consider the optics of hiring someone who had been banned for life by MLB.

Alex Anthopoulos, Coppolella’s successor in Atlanta, is widely regarded as one of baseball’s top general managers. Anthopoulos has led the Braves to five consecutive National League East titles, with one World Series trophy, since taking the job.

Coppolella has declined to comment on several occasions when contacted by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in the years following the ban.

He moved to Florida following the ban. He is listed as the head of talent acquisition for Capital Vacations in Orlando.