Editor’s Note: The end of this story has been changed. League President Andrew Haines contacted the reporter via email to say he does not own the River Monsters, and has no ownership stakes in the team. The part of the story with that information has been removed until further information can be obtained.
Thanks to a dust-up over salary caps last season, the Northern Kentucky River Monsters are no longer playing at The Bank of Kentucky Center – but many of the players will return.
This time, they have a different name and a different owner.
Joe Euton, who already owns the semi-professional arena football team Northern Kentucky Bulldogs, wanted to buy the team.
“We wanted to bring back the River Monsters,” Euton said. “They were a winning team. The marketing was in place and the fan base was already there.”
Euton thought he would obtain the team from owner Jill Chitwood and bring it back to the arena.
“We thought it was a done deal,” Euton said. “[Chitwood] was more than willing to work with us. She gave us a fair price.”
However, the deal came to a halt when there was an issue with fines the league tried to impose on the River Monsters for going over the weekly player salary cap in the previous season.
The league’s operations manual said teams would operate under a salary cap, but did not give the limit.
According to court documents, league President Andrew Haines sent an email May 11 notifying team owners the salary cap amount had been set and was in effect as of May 16.
At the time the email was sent, the River Monsters had a 11-1 record with only two regular-season games left.
The River Monsters finished the season with an 11-3 record and in first place.
Chitwood paid her players a $50 bonus for each game they won.
When the new rule went into effect, it put Chitwood in violation of the salary cap. The league imposed a fine of $8,250 and dropped the River Monsters from first to fourth place.
The team still competed in the playoffs, but because they were dropped to fourth place, they were not allowed to host a playoff game, taking away potential revenue.
Chitwood followed up by filing a lawsuit against the league May 27. It was dismissed with prejudice June 17, according to court documents.
In the dismissal, both parties agreed they “have finally resolved any and all issues related to the parties’ interaction in and with the Ultimate Indoor Football League.”
The issues were resolved in a settlement agreement effective June 6.
In the agreement, the league agreed to “waive any future claims against plaintiffs (River Monsters) unless the terms of this agreement are violated.”
Also, the league agreed to “waive and discharge a fine of $8,250 levied against the plaintiffs for alleged violations of the UIFL salary cap.”
As part of the settlement, the plaintiffs voluntarily withdrew from the league.
There was no mention if the River Monsters coming back into the league would violate the agreement.
According to Euton, when he tried to buy the team, the league tried to impose the fines on him.
He refused to pay them.
“They were trying to jam us with their fines,” Euton said.
Chitwood is still the owner of the name “River Monsters” despite the team no longer existing.
Although Chitwood’s River Monsters will not be back this year, there will be a different team in the arena: The Northern Kentucky Monsters. It is not clear at this time who the owner is.
The majority of the players on the team played for the River Monsters last year.
Haines has not been available for comment.