UFL commissioner Huyghue steps down

The murky future of the United Football League became cloudier Tuesday with the news that commissioner Michael Huyghue had resigned.

Huyghue, who helped form the UFL in 2007 and launch play in 2009, said he stepped down over philosophic differences with the league's four owners on how to move forward for 2012.

"You've got to make a decision -- either you're in or you're not," Huyghue said. "I've been thinking about this move for a while, but I wanted to give it until the end of January to see where things were headed.

"In the end, my vision for the future of the league was different from that of the owners. I still believe in the concept. We just ran out of funding."

Michael Preston, the league's director of media relations the past three years, also resigned Tuesday.

The UFL has lost more than $150 million in its three years of operation. Last season, it operated with four franchises -- Las Vegas, Sacramento, Omaha and Virginia -- playing an abbreviated four-game schedule with no national TV contract.

Despite the departure of Huyghue, the UFL owners remain committed to playing a fourth season.

"We are greatly indebted to Michael for taking an idea and turning it into a reality against very challenging circumstances," Las Vegas Locomotives owner and UFL founder Bill Hambrecht said. "We remain committed to taking the league forward and are moving ahead to fund a fourth season."

Locomotives president and coach Jim Fassel said Tuesday the hope is to play in September with six teams in a regional TV deal and have the UFL championship game nationally televised.

"I think we're looking at a decision by March," Fassel said of the UFL's plans for 2012. "Bill's been talking to investors and TV people. He and I talked over the weekend, and we agreed we need to get rolling on this."

Fassel said if the UFL plays a fourth season, the Locos will be part of it and will remain in Las Vegas.

"Bill remains committed to playing and to Las Vegas," Fassel said. "We still have some bills to square up, but we're in better shape now than we were a year ago at this time."

Fassel said he will not replace Huyghue as UFL commissioner. "I've got plenty to do here" with the Locomotives, he said. "But I told Bill whatever he needs me to help with, I'm there for him."

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.