As a result of a potential player walkout over the league being one week late with player payroll, Midwest Professional Basketball Association ownership has made the decision to terminate the remainder of the St. Louis RiverSharks’ season and, as a result, disqualify the team from playoff contention.
The league was notified via text message Monday that the RiverSharks players had held a meeting earlier in the day and were considering not playing the remainder of the season because of being paid one week late.
“It’s the end of the season and we had a cashflow shortage,” said C. Edward “Ed” Schumer, commissioner of the MPBA. “Three other teams were in the same position, and we guaranteed the players on all four teams that they would be paid the amount they were behind, as well as what they were scheduled to make the rest of the season.
“We do not know why it was only the St. Louis team that chose to consider walking out. The other teams were good with the arrangement that we would get caught up by the time they were due their final checks,” Schumer said.
“And we could not have taken the chance from a business perspective that, even had they agreed to the terms, they would have not changed their minds and threatened to walk out right before they were scheduled to play their games this weekend, when we had three other teams and a video production crew in town,” Schumer added
The termination of the RiverSharks’ season means the Lima Express will replace St. Louis in the upcoming MPBA playoffs on April 1-2.
Lima, with a 5-9 record, has a half-game lead on the 4-9 Gateway Steam. However, even with one more win, Gateway would have lost a head-to-head tiebreaker to Lima.
With the playoff field set, the league has also made the decision to not play this weekend’s scheduled games in St. Louis, including the replay of the final :36.4 seconds of an improperly ended game between the RiverSharks and the Windy City Groove. With St. Louis not playing the remainder of the game, the original result will be reinstated, which was a 110-109 Groove win.
“However, it should be noted that we were prepared to do what was necessary would Gateway have had a chance to qualify for the playoffs,” said Steve “Buzz” Zeller, MPBA chief operating officer.
Even with Gateway now having played its last game, the Steam players will still be fully compensated for the upcoming week despite the premature end to their season, Zeller added. The remaining active teams will also be paid according to schedule.
“It’s an unfortunate decision, but I understand where both sides were coming from,” said A.J. Guyton, director of basketball personnel for the MPBA. “As the one in charge of league personnel, I wish I’d have been able to consult and help the situation, but this was strictly a business decision by league ownership.”
The 2016 MPBA playoffs will begin on Friday, April 1 in Pontiac, Illinois, with the 12-4 Pontiac 66ers taking on the Express, and the 9-5 Windy City Groove playing the 8-6 Chicago Blues. The winners of those two games will play in Pontiac on Saturday, April 2 to crown the 2016 league champion.