Some Major League Rugby BOG Members Want To Replace Commish
Some members of the Major League Rugby BOG are trying to oust founding Commissioner Dean Howes, believing they need a higher caliber media and entertainment exec to push growth, sources said. The board has created a search committee and solicited help from exec search firms. They recognize that it may be difficult to find a suitable replacement and have not ruled out keeping Howes on, sources said. League officials all declined comment. The board, comprised of 14 club operators who collectively own the single-entity league, is said to be split on the subject. Even his critics credit Howes for developing the concept, rapidly expanding into major markets and leading MLR to become the first U.S. pro rugby league to complete a second season. However, after two years, some clubs want to double down, sources said. The new capital infusion would fund a larger, more aggressive commercial effort at the league HQ and enable more team-level spending on talent. If a new commissioner is found to lead that growth push, it is possible Howes would stay in on a different role, sources said. The league currently has one league-level non-endemic sponsor, U.K.-based luxury apparel brand Barbour, and had a $450,000 annual salary cap this season. The '19 MLR championship game in June drew 510,000 viewers on CBS, its first rated TV game. It was part of a national distribution package that puts select MLR games on cable weekly but pays no rights fee. Howes, a former Real Salt Lake CEO and partner at Sports Capital Partners, has preached local market development and cost sustainability as he has built the league business to 14 clubs, nine of which competed in '19.