Hawthorn CEO resigns from embattled AFL club

Justin Reeves has quit as Hawthorn chief executive due to the "personal toll" of intense pressure on the embattled AFL club and its leaders.

Reeves, who spent more than five years at the helm, has stepped down effective immediately.

His resignation comes amid the fallout from the Hawks' cultural safety review and the ongoing AFL investigation into allegations of historic racism at the club.

Reeves was not at Hawthorn during the period in question (2008-2016) but has faced pressure over the club's handling of the racism claims.

He also presided over the Hawks' messy break-up with four-time premiership coach Alastair Clarkson and the handover to Sam Mitchell in 2021.

Clarkson stepped away from his role as coach of North Melbourne last week, days after saying Hawthorn should be investigated over their "shameful" actions during the racism saga.

In a club statement on Wednesday, Hawthorn said: "Reeves will step down from the role effective immediately due to the personal toll and the need to focus on his well-being in what has been a very difficult period for the club."

Reeves' time in charge also included upheaval at board level, with Andy Gowers elected as Jeff Kennett's successor as president after a fractious and fiery power struggle.

On Wednesday, Hawthorn noted Reeves had delivered year-on-year profits, government funding for the Kennedy Community Centre project and growth in membership and commercial areas of the club's business.

The Hawks also sold off their gaming venues during Reeves' tenure.

"I've worked hard with my team to establish strong foundations for the club to work through some important cultural, strategic and operational matters," Reeves said in the club statement.

"With that work done, I'm confident the club can emerge stronger than ever.

"I believe now is the right time to hand over to new leadership.

"I'm confident my departure will allow the board to identify a new CEO to lead our incredibly talented executive team, to ensure future club sustainability and success and support club coaches Sam Mitchell and Bec Goddard."

Hawthorn have appointed chief commercial officer Ash Klein as acting CEO and will form a sub-committee to search for Reeves' full-time replacement.

"Justin is a highly respected sporting executive, which is a reputation built from delivering great results and running sound operations for more than 15 years in AFL football," Hawks president Gowers said.

"On behalf of the board, I thank Justin for his unwavering commitment to the Hawks over nearly six years, during which there has been some challenging periods that required astute leadership."