Skip to main Content
Sports

Wild sale finalized; Deemer rehired

After a week of upheaval, the latest chapter in the tumultuous history of the Alaska Wild has drawn to a close.

And with it, the soap opera shenanigans that have dogged the indoor football franchise throughout its existence may be at a merciful end as well.

Dr. Randy Deeter, a local oral surgeon who has been a stockholder in the Wild since the beginning, assumed majority ownership of the franchise on Friday as the volatile reign of former owner David Weatherholt concluded.

Deeter's first order of business was to rehire Hans Deemer as head coach, one week after Weatherholt unexpectedly and inexplicably fired the man who had guided the Wild to a 4-2 record in the Intense Football League.

"We've completed negotiations today, and I am the new majority stockholder, president of Alaska Professional Sports, which is the Wild," said Deeter, who previously owned 15 percent of the team. "I called Hans and asked him to take control back of the team for Sunday's game."

Deemer accepted and will be on the sidelines for a crucial game against defending IFL champion and undefeated Louisiana at Sullivan Arena.

"It's good to be back," Deemer said. "My in-laws have a horse ranch, a family farm. I've been out there working, trying to keep my mind off everything.

"But it's been a roller coaster for me. Just because somebody was buying the team didn't necessarily mean they were going to hire me back."

Both Deemer and Deeter expressed a desire to move ahead, and not linger on the events leading up to the sale.

"At this point and time I don't really want to comment on any of those things," Deeter said. "I just want to focus on going forward and not try to second guess anything that has happened in the past.

"This gives me and some other people a great opportunity to take football one step forward. This has been my life and dream for a long time. We're focusing on the future."

Deeter said that he and the other minority stockholders engaged in amicable negotiations to buy out Weatherholt, ending what had been a turbulent ride.

In May of 2006 Weatherholt boldly announced he was bringing an Arena Football 2 franchise to Anchorage. He later reversed course and said a team would have to wait a year.

Shortly after that he changed directions again and joined the IFL. At the end of 2006 Weatherholt claimed he had hired Heywood Hill to be the team's first coach.

Except not really. Later Keith Evans was tabbed to lead the Wild, but he was gassed after the first game.

Randy Magner, who was the vice president of operations, was installed as coach, but he quit after two days. Then it was Deemer's turn.

The Wild lost their first 12 games of 2007 before ending the season with two straight wins. Alaska has been one of the top teams in the IFL this season, sitting in third place.

But apparently that wasn't enough, as Weatherholt pulled the trigger on his fourth head coach. That led to a threatened player walkout, and the league finally stepped in to bring sanity to what IFL president Chad Dittman called its "best market."

With the lunacy finished, the Wild's new owner is hopeful the franchise can thrive.

"I'm very positive about it, we've got a great team," Deeter said. "We want to bring this great product to the community, we want the community support. We love Anchorage, we love football and we're just looking for things to get better for everybody."

PLAYERS SOLDIER ON

While the sale of the team was being negotiated, the Wild players prepared for Sunday's big game.

"Football is football, and luckily none of us is in the front office," said quarterback E.J. Nemeth, who started the Wild's last game against San Angelo. "It's tough, but at the same time we're football players and not management.

"Our job is to be out here and play football. As long as someone signs the checks and we have a practice field, we'll be out here."

In the absence of a head coach -- Weatherholt failed to name a successor to Deemer after the firing -- assistant coach Abe Hernandez ran practices, with help from volunteer assistants and player-coaches like Delvin Myles and Nick Mystrom.

"It's been good, there's been a lot of energy, a lot of excitement," Hernandez said. "I don't think we skipped a beat all week.

"We've done everything to keep the distractions as minimal as possible for the guys. They've been able to concentrate, had some really good practices. My goal was to make sure that we didn't change anything, that everything stayed the same."

For Wild veterans like Thomas Ford Jr., the past week has been an all-too-familiar redux of the firing of Evans.

"More than anything, you've just got to put it all in perspective," Ford said. "As a player, there's not a lot you can do about the ownership changes, the coaching changes, stuff like that.

"You can only get ready to play a football game. That's what we were brought here to do, that's what we're getting paid money to do, so that's what we're going to do this weekend."

Now that the franchise has stabilized -- or at the very least is as stable as it's ever been -- Deeter hopes the Wild fans can concentrate on what happens on the field.

"I just want everyone to come to the game and enjoy it," he said. "We promise to make things better all the time."

Sunday's game is scheduled for a 3 p.m. kickoff and will be televised live on cable channel 19.

Find Andrew Hinkelman online at adn.com/contact/ahinkelman or call 257-4335.

By ANDREW HINKELMAN

Local news matters.

Support independent, local journalism in Alaska.

Comments