The Alliance of American Football will suspend all operations effective immediately, according to multiple reports Tuesday.
The AAF is a first-year, eight-team professional football league that began play in February, one week after the 2019 Super Bowl. All teams had played eight of their 10 scheduled regular-season games through last weekend. The AAF aspired to be a league for players with NFL hopes, but it could not reach agreement with the NFLPA to use players at the end of NFL rosters.
The AAF told most employees that they will be terminated as of Wednesday. They were notified of the decision in a letter from the AAF board on Tuesday afternoon. The board essentially is majority owner Tom Dundon, who also owns the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes.
The letter, obtained by The Associated Press, gave no reason for ending the inaugural season, only that the decision was made "after careful consideration." It also said a small staff would remain to seek new investment capital and "restructure our business. Should those efforts prove successful, we look forward to working with many of you on season two."
The AAF includes the Arizona Hotshots, coached by former Valley high school star Rick Neuheisel. The Hotshots currently have a 5-3 record and are tied with the San Antonio Commanders for first place in the AAF West Division.
The Hotshots were scheduled to host the Birmingham Iron at Sun Devil Stadium in their regular-season home finale on Sunday. In a tweet Tuesday, Neuheisel proclaimed the Hotshots as West Division champions.
Congrats to the Head Ball Coach and the Apollos for winning the East. The Hotshots won the West. How best should we play this off?? Wait.... WE DID!! #Shotsarechamps22-17— Rick Neuheisel (@CoachNeuheisel) April 2, 2019
Tom Dundon effectively bought a majority stake in the league in mid-February, with the league announcing his commitment of $250 million. It later became clear that Dundon was funding the league on a week-to-week basis, with his approximate total commitment being $70 million to this point.
After the deal with Dundon, sources say it became clear to league co-founders Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian that Dundon’s objectives were different from the original plan.
Ebersol and Polian’s plan was to develop the league for three years on its own before becoming a feeder system to the NFL. Dundon, however, wanted to create that minor league immediately and sought to use the leverage of folding the AAF to get a deal with the NFL Players Association to better insure a flow between leagues.
In response to Dundon's decision, Polian issued a strongly worded statement.
"I am extremely disappointed to learn Tom Dundon has decided to suspend all football operations of the Alliance of American Football," Polian wrote. "When Mr. Dundon took over, it was the belief of my co-founder, Charlie Ebersol, and myself that we would finish the season, pay our creditors, and make the necessary adjustments to move forward in a manner that made economic sense for all.
"The momentum generated by our players, coaches and football staff had us well positioned for future success. Regrettably, we will not have that opportunity."
The Associated Press contributed to this report