- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 21, 2009

From combined dispatches

New York real estate billionaire Stephen Ross became majority owner of the Miami Dolphins on Tuesday, completing his purchase of 95 percent of the franchise for $1 billion, with Wayne Huizenga retaining a 5 percent interest.

The two businessmen reached an agreement to complete a deal forged last February. At that time Ross bought 50 percent of the franchise, Dolphin Stadium and surrounding land from Huizenga for $550 million, with an agreement that Ross would later become managing general partner.

Ross closed on the purchase of an additional 45 percent Tuesday. That part of the agreement received preapproval from the NFL in October.

Huizenga, 71, became sole owner of the Dolphins in 1994. A year ago he said it was time for another person to assume control.

Ross takes over with the franchise’s fortunes on the upswing. When the first phase of his purchase was completed, the Dolphins were coming off a 1-15 season, the worst in franchise history. Under the new Bill Parcells regime, they improved to 11-5 this season and made the playoffs for the first time since 2001.

The sale triggers a clause in Parcells’ contract allowing him to leave and still receive the $9 million to $12 million remaining on his four-year contract. After the team lost in the first round of the playoffs, Huizenga said Parcells had decided to remain for another season.

Ross gave Parcells an endorsement Tuesday.

“I want to assure Dolphin fans that I share Wayne’s same passion to win and will do everything I can to support Bill Parcells in his leadership of football operations,” Ross said.

General manager Jeff Ireland, in Mobile, Ala., scouting players preparing for the Senior Bowl, said he would be surprised if Parcells departed.

“Yeah, I’d be shocked,” Ireland said. “Obviously that would be something that we would not like to see happen. But anything can happen in this business. This time of the year it’s certainly a business, so I wouldn’t be shocked at anything.”

For now, Ireland said, the sale won’t change the way he and coach Tony Sparano go about things.

“It doesn’t really change what I do. It doesn’t change what Tony does. It doesn’t change what Bill does,” Ireland said. “We’ve got to win games.”

COLTS: Ron Meeks resigned after seven seasons as defensive coordinator.

The team announced the move eight days after coach Tony Dungy retired. Dungy hired Meeks in 2002.

The Colts led the NFL in scoring defense in 2007 but dropped to seventh last season and were eliminated from the AFC playoffs in the first round by San Diego.

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