HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Lawyers for XFL owner Vince McMahon argued in court filings Wednesday that the wrestling magnet was justified in firing league CEO Oliver Luck last month just before the football operation shut down.
Luck filed a federal lawsuit last month over his April 9 termination, alleging McMahon breached their contract. The father of former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck and a long-time football executive, is seeking $23.8 million, a figure released in court documents Wednesday.
Attorneys for McMahon, the chief executive of Connecticut-based WWE, which backed the new league, argued that Luck was fired for cause, in part because he failed to devote all of his business time to his XFL duties.
He “effectively abandoned his responsibilities as the CEO and Commissioner of the XFL at a time when the league faced its most significant crisis —_the threat to its business caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” they wrote.
They also accuse Luck of improperly using a league cell phone and ignoring a directive from McMahon not to hire players with “questionable or problematic backgrounds”
Luck’s attorney, Paul Dobrowski, said those allegations are without merit and that Luck has detailed all the work he did for the XFL during the time in question.
“No one at the time said, ‘Oliver you’re not following XFL policy.’ Or sent him a notice letter, which would have been required under his contract,” he said.
Dobrowski, in his own court filings Wednesday, said the $23.8 million Luck is seeking includes $800,000 in base salary due for the remaining two months of Luck’s 2019-20 contract, a $2 million bonus for the 2019-20 contract year and $21 million in salary and bonuses for the remaining three years of the contract.
The XFL had eight franchises and played five games out of a planned 10-game schedule before canceling the remainder of its season in March due to the pandemic. It drew decent TV ratings early on and had deals with ESPN and Fox.
The league suspended operations and laid off all of its employees on April 10 and filed for bankruptcy protection on April 13.