• All eight UFL head coaches’ contracts expired on June 30, 2024
  • Coaches classified as seasonal employees, off payroll until January 1, 2025
  • Uncertainty surrounds the return of coaches for the 2025 UFL season

The United Football League (UFL) faces a period of uncertainty as all eight head coaches’ contracts expired on June 30, 2024. This development has turned the coaches into free agents, raising questions about their potential return for the 2025 season. The contract expiration affects coaches across all UFL teams, including Birmingham Stallions, Michigan Panthers, Memphis Showboats, Houston Roughnecks, D.C. Defenders, and Arlington Renegades.

Under the UFL’s new employment structure, head coaches are classified as seasonal employees. This classification means they are off the payroll from July 1, 2024, until January 1, 2025 and also loose their health insurance. The seasonal employment model allows the league to reduce costs but also creates a situation where coaches have the freedom to explore other opportunities during the off-season.

Coaches making appearances at events like Summer Showcases will be paid for the event with travel included. UFL GM’s will still stay on payroll from what we are hearing.

Sources have told UFL News Hub that all the UFL head coaches are unhappy with the new arrangement. With some threatening to not return in 2025. Three big names we have heard contemplating not returning in 2025 are Stallions Skip Holtz, Defenders Reggie Barlow and Battlehawks Anthony Becht.

Skip Holtz of the Birmingham Stallions, has led his team to three consecutive championships. Reggie Barlow of the DC Defenders lead the team to the XFL Championship game in 2023. Last season the team was second in attendance but middle of the road at 4-6. Becht lead the St Louis Battlehawks to the XFL Conference Championship game at home, but lost to the San Antonio Brahmas.

Bob Stoops of the Arlington Renegades are among other high-profile coaches affected by this change. Stoops expressed uncertainty about his future, stating,

Our contracts go through the end of June, and then after that, we’ll see what it’s looking like for the following year. I hope to, but you just never know what the whole structure is going to look like.

The UFL’s single-entity structure, where the league handles all hiring and firing decisions, adds another layer of complexity to the situation. This setup gives the UFL flexibility to make coaching changes without contractual restrictions. Prior to the finish of the 2024 season the new UFL was still dealing with coaching contracts from the XFL and USFL. Going forward it is not not the case.

Teams struggling in standings and attendance, like the Memphis Showboats and Houston Roughnecks, might see coaching changes as a way to revitalize their franchises. According to James Larson, the Roughnecks will now have a new GM.

While some coaches, like John DeFilippo of Memphis and CJ Johnson of Houston, have expressed a strong desire to return, others may consider different options. Some coaches, like Becht make more money doing pre season Jets games than working for the UFL now. However, timing of the contract expiration in July presents challenges for coaches looking to transition to NFL or college football roles, as most teams have already filled their coaching positions for the upcoming season.

The contract situation also affects assistant coaches, whose futures may depend on the head coaches’ decisions. Remember in 2023 when head coach of the XFL’s San Antonio Brahmas, Hines Ward, decided at the last minute to not return because of the pay cut, his whole coaching staff were left without a job and scrambling.

As the UFL prepares for its 2025 season, the coaching situation remains fluid. The league must balance its financial considerations with the need to retain top coaching talent. Former XFL President and CEO Oliver Luck told Reid Johnson of TheMarkcast on how important it was to keep head coaches full time.

My preference would be not to do that. We had full-time coaches in NFL Europe, and we used those guys in the offseason. They’d come over to Europe. We’d have all clinics in France, in Germany, and everywhere else, just to keep the brand alive. You wanted to be viable in any marketplace. I think the same thing is true of the UFL.

For coaches, the decision to return will likely depend on factors such as team performance, personal career goals, and potential opportunities in other leagues or levels of football. The league is trying to focus on stability for the 2025, keeping some of their top coaches should be part of that.

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author avatar
Mark Perry Editor
Mark Perry, a devoted sports journalist and founder of UFL News Hub, has been a key figure in XFL, USFL and UFL coverage since 2018.

1 Comment

  • Posted July 8, 2024 3:55 pm 0Likes
    by Ken Granito

    I commented on an article just recently. As the league looks for legitimacy for itself, I think the league needs to contemplate why they haven’t signed coaches that are good for the league. If you can get Skip Holtz, Mike Nolan and Wade Phillips to sign extensions at salaries you can work with, you do it and you do it now. This is a no-brainer if you want to be looked at as a league that plays on FOX or ABC. I could understand if you haven’t yet figured out what you want to do with Barlow, Becht, Johnson, DiFilipo and Stoops. Personally I like Stoops, but I do not run the league. The issue is this. The league has enough going for it find coaches even without giving contracts, but if you want people to tune in they are going to want to watch REAL football and that means real coaches you can identify with as good coaches.

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