As the American Ultimate Disc League continues to deal with an ugly legal situation, Josh Moore, the AUDL President, has acknowledged that the league needs some work if it wants to succeed.
In an interview last week, Moore discussed some of the necessary changes. “Every aspect of the organization needs to be better,” he said. “More consistent website, better PR, better job finding sponsors, television production – I can name every aspect of the organization – it needs to get better…Everything we’re doing in the offseason is on the table. It’s clear about what needs to change.”
He acknowledged the difficulty of running the league with a small, understaffed front office. “We were doing everything average and nothing great,” he said.
But he is confident that the league can improve. The AUDL website lists eight open positions, ranging from league statistician to VP of Operations. “I think people will see a different league next year,” he said.
One of the biggest issues team owners have with the AUDL is that the organizational structure leaves them with little power over the direction of the league. Most sports leagues are owned collectively by the team owners, who then elect a commissioner or President to oversee operations, rule enforcement, and other front office requirements. The AUDL is owned by Josh Moore, who sells franchises — with little league support — to investors. This doesn’t appear likely to change.
Moore also stood firm about any potential issues with Brent Steepe, who is the VP of Marketing for the league as well as the owner of Detroit and the buyer of the contested franchise in Boston. “I can see where people might see there might be some conflict of interest,” said Moore. “But he doesn’t have any league voting power or anything like that. His involvement has been really marketing the league.”
He is confident that the league can function smoothly with the current leadership. And the league’s growth has been impressive — they just announced seven new franchises (which includes the contested New York franchise) and reportedly have eleven more sold for the 2014 season.
But the issues from this year are not going away. Emerson Kilgore, the owner of the Rhode Island Rampage, who is being sued by the league for blocking the Boston franchise based on a clause in his contract, vows to continue to fight in court, even if he is booted from the league on Friday.
Kilgore said that this week Moore offered him the opportunity to become a minority owner of the Boston franchise if he would allow the league to place the team there. Kilgore declined. “The issue I have with all this is that they don’t have the right to be in Boston,” he said. “It is illegal – it is in my contract.”
He sees few scenarios in which the sides will settle. “I’m staying with my stance that they cannot be there…,” he explained. “If they’re willing to buy me out and give me a substantial amount of money, then I’ll be OK with that. But I know they’re not going to agree with that.
“Best of luck to the new Boston franchise in 2018.”
Bryan Ricci, the owner of the Connecticut Constitution, who is also being sued by the league, said Moore’s offer to him “came up far short of anything [he] would ever consider discussing.”
And he says legal actions following the league’s letters threatening termination have already been put in place. “Cease and desist letters were mailed, and there is an injunction is sitting in the hands of the court right now,” he said.
If nothing changes, both Rhode Island and Connecticut will have their contracts with the league terminated on Friday. The court battle could drag on for months beyond that.
Moore is still hopeful for a resolution. When asked if he would like to see the teams return in 2013, he said, “Yea that was always our hope. They could pay the fines, get back to where we need to be, and we can get back to playing.”