ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Albany Empire are looking back to move forward. Tom Menas, the former Albany Empire coach, tells NEWS10 Sports Director Griffin Haas he has agreed in principle to return as the team’s head coach.

Menas won back to back championships for the Empire, but was fired on April 6th, just 10 days before the team’s season opener. Menas said at the time that the new owner, former NFL All-Pro Antonio Brown, wanted to go in another direction.

This move comes just one day after interim head coach Damon Ware and six players left the team. Ware told NEWS10 he and the players were not being paid, and they were not given keys to their hotel rooms.

Here’s another twist: Menas tells me Ware will also return to the team. He will serve as the Empire’s offensive head coordinator and assistant head coach.

Last year’s MVP Darius Prince, captains Nick Haag, Brandon Sesay, and Dwayne Hollis, quarterback Sam Castranova, and lineman Melvin Hollins left the Empire Monday due to the payment and hotel issues. On Tuesday, linebacker Trevon Shorts and wideout Marquel Wade announced on social media they are also leaving the team.

Menas has already helped fill one hole on the roster. The team has agreed to a deal with quarterback Roland Rivers III to become the Empire’s next signal caller. Rivers won the division-two Heisman Trophy in 2019 at Slippery Rock. Rivers participated in rookie minicamp for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2021. He played one game for the Pittsburgh Maulers of the USFL in 2022.

Brown became majority owner of the Empire on April 19th. Brown bought Mike Kwarta’s remaining 47.5 percent share for one dollar. Former team president Matt Woods, and director of media relations Jeff Levack left the organization with Kwarta.

Brown owns 95 percent of the team, while the remaining 5 percent is locally owned by the von Schiller family.

The Empire are scheduled to host the West Texas Warbirds this Saturday at 7:00 PM.