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Utah Royals FC terminates contract of head coach Craig Harrington

New Utah Royals FC head coach Craig Harrington answers questions from the media at an introductory press conference at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Friday, Feb. 7, 2020.
New Utah Royals FC head coach Craig Harrington answers questions from the media at an introductory press conference at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Friday, Feb. 7, 2020.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Utah Royals FC has officially parted ways with head coach Craig Harrington almost two months after he was placed on leave of absence.

The club announced Monday morning that it has terminated his contract, and simultaneously said that Amy LePeilbet, who has been acting as interim head coach, will remain in that role.

Assistant coach Louis Lancaster, who was placed on leave at the same time as Harrington, remains with the club, the announcement said.

“Utah Royals FC is proud to represent the state of Utah nationally and across the globe,” the announcement said. “Utah Royals FC takes this responsibility seriously, and have committed to keeping the community and its fans apprised of team developments. After careful review and consideration, the club has decided to part ways with head coach Craig Harrington.

Amy LePeilbet will continue as Interim Head Coach until further notice. As Coach LePeilbet has already demonstrated, she is well-positioned to serve in this interim role and embodies the club’s dedication to the highest standards of conduct, civility, and professionalism.”

Harrington was hired Feb. 7 after two seasons as an assistant with the Chicago Red Stars to replace Laura Harvey, who took a position with the United States Soccer Federation. Just over seven months later, however, on Sept. 20, he was placed on leave just before URFC was to begin its fall series on the road against Portland Thorns FC, and he did not make the trip.

The Athletic reported at the time that Harrington was placed on leave as part of an investigation into inappropriate comments he had made toward staff members, and LePeilbet, an assistant, was named interim coach.

URFC went 0-2-2 in four fall games.

Prior to the fall series, Harrington coached URFC in the National Women’s Soccer League’s Challenge Cup during the summer, which became the first pro team sporting event in the United States to be held since March.

In that event, URFC went 1-3-1 as Harrington employed a unique 3-5-2 formation.

URFC finds itself with incredible uncertainty this offseason, as it does not have an owner or a permanent head coach, and the roster is in flux with a growing number of players abroad as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

URFC could lose up to two players in the NWSL’s expansion draft on Thursday as Racing Louisville FC continues to build its roster in preparation to start playing in 2021.

This story will be updated.