The semipro Yakima Scorpions
football team is no more. Or else it still exists. The
players are all moving over to a new team in a new league.
Or else they're not.
Depends on who's doing the
This much is certain: Many of
the people involved with the Scorpions a year ago have
started up a new team, the Yakima Mavericks, that will play
in the new Evergreen Football League. And nobody in that
league wants anything to do with the Inland Northwest
Football League in which the Scorpions played 10 games this
year between April to July, with its home games at Zaepfel
Stadium or its commissioner/owner, Chuck Love.
"We're not the only ones mad
at Chuck Love. The entire league was mad at his antics,"
said Nathan Soptich, a former Eisenhower player who played
on the Scorpions and is now acting as the Mavericks' general
"A lot of guys are telling
me, 'Yeah, if Chuck Love's not involved, I'd like to play
football again,'" said Dean Carr, a former player under Love
and now the owner of the new Spokane SaberCats.
"Because of Chuck, we're
having a hard time getting people in Spokane to talk to us,"
said Jerrid Edgington of Spokane, commissioner of the new
league. "That's all I've been doing since I started, was
putting out fires and building bridges."
Why all this lack of love for
Love? Start with unpaid bills and shaky arrangements.
The INWFL's postseason
"all-star" game on Aug. 14, in which Love planned to pit the
best players from the league against an all-star team from
Oregon, was an example of both.
By the time of the game, many
of the INWFL's selected players no longer wanted anything to
do with the league. The INWFL's "all-star team," several
team representatives said, was essentially a Spokane-area
pickup squad intermingled with what few all-stars were
willing to make the trip. Still, Love was optimistic about
the prospect for a big turnout.
"He promised us 20 percent of
a 3,500-ticket gate, with tickets at six to seven dollars,
and promised to pay for the (Oregon team's) bus trip up,"
said Ipo Ross, commissioner of the Oregon Football League,
whose team was bused from Medford to the game in Okanogan.
"Judging from what I saw in the stands, there were 30 to 40
people tops, besides the people who came from Oregon."
Six weeks after the Aug. 14
game, Ross says his team hasn't been paid anything by Love.
And a $4,588 bill owed to Northstar Pacific Coachways in
Medford, Ore., for transporting the Oregon team has also
never been paid, though the bus line's owner said Love has
told him several times a check was on the way.
"He (Love) has been giving me
the run around for God knows how long," Northstar's Don
Dave Stireman, who runs a
division of the semipro Rocky Mountain Football League,
brought a Utah team to play a Spokane team co-owned by Love
in August 2002. Love wrote him three checks totaling $4,250,
Stireman said for transportation and previously owed
expenses from an earlier Utah team trip and then stopped
payment on them the following Tuesday.
"I bet I've talked to him
thirty, forty times, fifty times, and it's always the same
story," Stireman said. "It's always, 'I'm a man of my word,
I pay my bills, I'll take care of you.'"
According to Superior Court
records, Unters Lewis "Chuck" Love has been sued more than
two dozen times in King and Spokane counties alone for a
variety of foreclosures, evictions and debt collections. He
also has 1991 and 1992 convictions for bad checks.
A $945 check that Love wrote
on June 8 to the Yakima School District for the Scorpions'
use of Zaepfel Stadium came back as unpayable because of
insufficient funds, according to Scott Izutsu, the
district's assistant superintendent for finance.
Love, 51, a former three-year
football letterman at the University of Idaho, said he pays
his bills and discounts his detractors' accusations as
mud-slinging and jealousy.
"They've been running me
through the mud since Day One," Love said. "These guys
starting the new league used to work for Inland Northwest
Football League and they quit. It's like success breeds
success, and now they want to point fingers."
There's plenty to point at,
and plenty of people doing the finger-pointing, not just
within the league.
According to the Washington
Department of Labor and Industries, in 2003 Love arranged
for insurance for the Inland Northwest league on two
accounts, including one as Key Investments/DBA Yakima
Scorpions. But, said L&I spokesman Robert Nelson, Love's
representation of the way the semipro league worked that, in
many cases, players might be paid a percentage of the gate
was far from reality.
An L&I audit this summer of
Love's Scorpions account on which L&I paid out more than
$48,000 on 51 medical claims determined that there was no
employer-employee relationship and "zeroed out" the account,
waiving the account's $4,800 premium.
"We should not have been
insuring the company," Nelson said. "We made the mistake."
On his second account,
though, Love still owes L&I $9,562. "It is in collections,"
Nelson said, "but we have no expectations of getting the
Still, Love said there will
be an Inland Northwest Football League next spring and that
the Yakima Scorpions will be part of it.
"Right now we have 50
players," Love said. "We're going forward." When asked to
provide a roster list of his 50 Yakima players, though, Love
If Soptich is right, Love may
not have those 50 players. He expects "probably 90 percent"
of last year's Scorpions to show up at the Mavericks'
opening mini-camp, set for 10 a.m. Oct. 9 at Franklin Middle
School. Last year's Scorpions head coach, Matt Bost, will be
the Mavericks' head coach.
Edgington, the Evergreen
league commissioner, said he'll be at the Mavericks'
mini-camp to make plain to players what the league will be
about and not be about.
"I lived the whole (INWFL)
nightmare and know why everybody left. That's kind of why I
got involved in this," Edgington said.
"Chuck Love has nothing to do
with our league. We made a point of that."
Information about Mavericks
and the Evergreen Football League is available online at