Commissioner Harry Usher said today the United States Football League is prepared to play next fall without the champion Baltimore Stars, whose owner suggested that the USFL consider scrapping the 1986 season.
"We've been drawing up a seven-team schedule if it comes to that," Usher said. "We're working on the assumption that we'll have an eight-team league, but if we have to play without Baltimore, we're prepared for that also."
The USFL, already down to eight teams from 14 last season, meets here Wednesday to plan its first fall season after three in the spring.
Originally called for procedural and housekeeping purposes, the session was presented an explosive issue last week when Myles Tanenbaum, owner of the Stars, told the Baltimore Sun the USFL should consider staying idle until its $1.32 billion suit against the National Football League is resolved. That led Herschel Walker of the New Jersey Generals, one of the league's last remaining high-priced stars, to say he would join the NFL's Dallas Cowboys if the USFL did not play in 1986.
Tanenbaum could not be reached today and Usher said he did not know the Stars' intentions firsthand.
But Usher said that in view of what Tanenbaum was quoted as saying, the league was prepared to hold a dispersal draft of Baltimore's players within the USFL. Those players include running back Kelvin Bryant, nose tackle Pete Kugler and offensive tackle Irv Eatman.
Should the players become available to the NFL, Bryant's rights belong to the Washington Redskins, Eatman's to Kansas City.
Beyond Tanenbaum, there appeared to be no other advocates of staying idle until 1987, two years after the last USFL game last July.
"Everything I hear is that Myles' opinions, which he hasn't articulated completely, are only Myles'," Usher said. "I think the rest of the owners want to play this season."