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Friday, December 08, 2006

WSHL Press Release

As posted on the WSHL's website:
At a meeting held earlier today, with two members of the Western States Hockey League Board of Governor's, Managing Partner Jon MacWilliams confirmed that the Tucson Tilt was ceasing operations effective today.

A preliminary financial review, conducted today in Tucson by the WSHL Board Members, did conclude that the ownership of the Tucson Tilt, as represented by Jon MacWilliams, were not going to increase their investment in the enterprise to cover the existing deficit in cash flow to operate the Team. Based on that decision, the WSHL had no alternative than to act upon the purported insolvency and suspend the Team’s participation in the remaining schedule for the 2006-2007 season.

The preliminary financial review, although still ongoing, points to an ill-advised business plan based heavily on donations and sponsorships that heretofore had not materialized. In addition, the Team has outstanding receivables from "player tuition contracts" that total more $70,000.00, from players who have not made payments due under the contracts. It would appear, based on preliminary investigation, that Coach Jeremy Law and Jon MacWilliams were not successful in the collection of the delinquent players tuition's (sic), that are outstanding. The continuing investigation will consider all creditor claims and review of expenses paid to date.

The player roster of the Tucson Tilt has been frozen by USA Hockey in accordance to the request made by the WSHL. A dispersal draft will be held to place all players, who have met their financial obligations to the Team. Players with delinquent tuition payments will not be released until payment has been made satisfactory to the WSHL. It is the intention of the WSHL, in accordance with USA Hockey policies, to pursue the collection of the outstanding player tuition's. The WSHL dispersal draft will be held prior to Tuesday, Dec. 13.
Okay, a few high points...

Ever seen a WSHL contract? The Tilt's contract have no language stating when (or how) the tuition is to the paid. It could be mid-season, end of season, or years from now. Thus, the contracts became null and void when the team folded.

Secondly, which USA Hockey policy obligates the WSHL to collect revenue from players? I'm looking for the exact chapter and verse. If someone has it, I'll post it. I'm just trying to figure out why the league is pushing this issue for a reason other than to cover their own backside.

The latest on the financial audit of the Tilt is that $93k in tuition was collected. Another $70k in revenue was collected from the poker group and other sources, of which $50k was flagged for player sponsorships. On the other side of the ledger, only $60k of the team's approximately $200k in expenditures and debt appears to be related to the normal operations of a hockey team.

For all of the demonizing of scholarships in this affair, they are NOT illegal under either USA Hockey or NCAA regulations. The USA Hockey limitation is that they cannot be tied to the talent of the player, and if sponsorships are to be utilized, "meaningful, productive work" is to be performed "off the ice and away from team competition." The NCAA has no requirement for meaningful work in exchange. Their new Amateur Certification Clearinghouse only asks players if they have ever "competed on any team where anyone received more than their expenses to play on the team." and there's nothing in the regulations of either body about equity (a common counter-argument)

Dave Tyler, I know you are a lawyer. As such it would seem reasonable that you understand that reimbursement of expenses is not payment. Stop using the "NCAA prohibits it" argument when you talk about the evils of scholarships. Reimbursement of expenses - by way of a scholarship covering tuition - is perfectly legal in the NCAA. Scholarships didn't kill the Tilt, free spending did.

The black eye on the WSHL has been caused by a lack of institutional control by the league of their member teams. The WSHL's ineffective policies, standards, and practices have allowed an owner to mis-manage a franchise into the nightmare we see today. Unfortunately, many Tilt players are being held hostage... unable to continue their playing careers. Jeremy Law's coaching career is being held hostage by threats of suspension by the WSHL and USA Hockey. The players didn't embarrass the WSHL. Jeremy Law didn't embarrass the WSHL. Do the right thing and set them free.


Comments on "WSHL Press Release"


Blogger slapshot said ... (8:55 PM, December 08, 2006) : 

Very interesting Marc! There is a few of us scattered around who were wondering about Jeremy Law's coaching skills and (career-ha!)... We have YET to see him "coach." We all know he can RECRUIT good teams, offering packages nobody can compete with, but the success of both the teams he ran was purely due to the PLAYERS' TALENT...not the skill of Jeremy Law. I watched Tucson play Phoenix and with a far superior roster, your golden boy lost 2 of 3. Is that good coaching?


Blogger ice it said ... (9:29 PM, December 08, 2006) : 

Great job, thanks a million for researching this. Too bad no one from the WSHL or USA Hockey Junior B Council can figure this out.


Blogger legaleagle said ... (11:54 PM, December 08, 2006) : 

SLAPSHOT, YOU OBVIOUSLY MISSED THE THORN CUP CHAMPIONSHIP GAME last season..... where Fort Worth a FAR less superior team BEAT PHX 3-0. And YES Coach Law won the league title as a FIRST YEAR coach..... "PACKAGES">>>>Phoenix players had much better packages,infact a buddy of mine even had his schooling paid for.AND for your recruiting comment, isn't that part of being a good coach??? building a strong team and then coaching them to work together and become a WINNING team. GEE.... SUCH PETTINESS


Blogger fanofthegame said ... (12:37 AM, December 09, 2006) : 

Roster age/depth sanity check...Fort Worth (2005)had fifteen 19-20 yr olds. Tucson this season has sixteen 19-20 yr olds. Phx had twelve 19-20 yr olds last season and only eleven this season AND three 16 yr olds and a 15 yr old. Phoenix coach Mr. Mahood appears to be investing in developing teams that will continue to succeed year after year (hence their consistent results) rather than putting a team together for one season. Building a long term plan to win is truly "coaching".


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