Oliver Luck, the former NFL quarterback and commissioner and CEO of the XFL, has sued league owner Vince McMahon, claiming wrongful termination.
Luck was hired last year and his pedigree -- he is a former NFL and NCAA executive -- added some needed credibility to the fledgling league.
According to the heavily redacted suit, filed April 16 in U.S. District Court in Connecticut, Luck was terminated by the XFL on April 9, a day before the league laid off the majority of its workforce. On April 13, the XFL filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, listing assets of and liabilities of between $10 million and $50 million.
Luck reportedly signed a five-year deal worth about $20 million to run the league, and believes he is owed at least a portion of that. In the suit he claims that Alpha Entertainment, the vehicle that officially owns the XFL, “repudiated” his employment agreement. He adds that McMahon sent him a termination letter on April 9, the day before the league laid off most of its workers.
Although the letter was redacted in the suit, Luck said he “wholly disputes and rejects the allegations set forth in the Termination Letter and contends they are pretextual and devoid of merit,” according to the document
Luck’s suit also comes days after the XFL asked the court to approve a process to sell its assets via an auction tentatively scheduled for July.
McMahon has agreed to provide debtor-in-possession financing of about $3.5 million to get the league through the sales process. That DIP financing is contingent on the court approving the auction sales process by May 15, and finalizing a sale by July 15.
According to bankruptcy court documents, the auction for the XFL assets -- mainly its name, trademarks and other intellectual property -- could start on July 8.
Just who would buy the assets remains to be seen. While the league enjoyed strong ratings when it launched on Feb. 8, viewership declined steadily in later weeks. Some reports have speculated that the NFL could buy the XFL and run it as an instructional league for new recruits, much like the NBA’s D-league.