The Sacramento Mountain Lions have a new coach but the minor league pro football team is still wrestling with its old coach over more than $1 million in unpaid salary.
Ex-coach Dennis Green is suing the Mountain Lions and the United Football League for breach of contract. Green, whose coaching résumé includes the Minnesota Vikings and Stanford, led the Mountain Lions the past three seasons, including two after the team relocated from San Francisco.
If the allegations are true, Green's lawsuit highlights the financial struggles of the team and the league. The UFL has just four teams and cut short the 2011 season after five games.
In his lawsuit, the 63-year-old Green says he agreed to join the Mountain Lions after being assured by league founder and investment banking tycoon William Hambrecht of "sufficient funding to assure the success of the UFL, including Green's agreed-upon compensation."
Based on those promises, Green says he bought a home in Sacramento and relocated from San Diego.
He says in the lawsuit he was paid $1 million in 2010. He was supposed to get $1.5 million last year, in payments of $62,500 every two weeks, and the same amount in 2012.
Instead, he never earned more than $41,667 per paycheck, the suit says. He received a total of $435,000 through the end of last September, when he said his pay was cut off altogether.
He filed his lawsuit a week later in San Francisco Superior Court. In February, the judge granted the Mountain Lions' demand that the dispute be settled through arbitration.
Paul Pelosi, the Mountain Lions' majority owner, noted that Green filed his suit while the 2011 season was still in progress. But he declined to discuss the suit in detail.
"It will get worked out by the attorneys," he said.
League spokesman Larry Weisman had no comment.
The UFL has struggled mightily since its inception, and Pelosi has been frank about its financial woes.
"We have to develop more on the business side," Pelosi told The Bee last fall. Pelosi is a San Francisco real estate investor who's married to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Last year a Sacramento public relations firm, Runyon Saltzman & Einhorn, sued the league over $264,000 in unpaid bills. The league had hired the firm to promote the Mountain Lions. The case was settled a month later after the UFL paid its bills, said firm President Estelle Saltzman.
Separately, a New York production firm won a $284,000 judgment against the league earlier this year for unpaid video services, court records show.
The UFL, trying to regroup, plans an eight-game schedule this fall. It has signed a TV deal with the CBS Sports Network, a cable channel.
The Mountain Lions announced this week they're moving their home field to Raley Field from Sacramento State's Hornet Stadium. They also introduced their new coach, former NFL quarterback Turk Schonert.