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Utah Royals FC general manager departs as team moves to Kansas City

Utah Royals FC Draft Table.jpg
Utah Royals FC general manager Stephanie Lee will be leaving the club as her contract ends on Dec. 31, Real Salt Lake announced Tuesday. (Photo: Utah Royals FC )

Utah Royals FC general manager Stephanie Lee will be leaving the club as her contract ends on Dec. 31, Real Salt Lake announced Tuesday.

Utah Royals FC ceased operations last week after the rights to players were transferred to an ownership group in Kansas City, Kansas.

“I have enjoyed my time in Utah, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to aid in building the Utah Royals FC organization from the beginning,” Lee is quoted in a news release. “We had a grand vision and strategic plan to get there and it is a disappointment for us all that we won’t be able to see that come to life. But success requires resiliency, so for myself, our staff and our community, we will all learn and grow from this experience.”

Lee was one of the team's first hires when Utah Royals FC was established in 2017, coming on as the managing director to help build the team from scratch. Prior to the 2019 season, she was promoted to general manager, during which she oversaw all operations for the team, including player acquisition, programming, scheduling and logistics.

“I want to thank Stephanie for her work in building and operating the Utah Royals,” Vice President of Soccer Operations Rob Zarkos stated in a news release.

We are all devastated with the team moving to Kansas City, but no one more than Stephanie, who was integral in developing the vision and establishing the culture of the team. Stephanie has an incredible soccer mind and I have no doubt that she has a bright future as a sports executive.

In addition, Lee served as Utah Royals FC representative on the NWSL Board of Governors and sat on the Competition Committee that helped to write and implement changes on the operations side of the league these past three years.

Lee also led the initiative allowing NWSL to resume competition with the implementation of the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup.

As the host group, Lee was responsible for a large portion of the planning and execution at the tournament site and as a result of her work leading the team in Utah the NWSL became the first professional sports league to return to play and the first to host an entire tournament without a single positive coronavirus result, according to a news release.

The announcement comes after Dell Loy Hansen said in August he's selling the Real Salt Lake, Utah Royals FC, and the Real Monarchs after Major League Soccer launched an investigation into his alleged racist history. Head coach Craig Harrington was fired in November after reports of inappropriate comments.