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The Nashville Rhythm was a team in the American Basketball Association which began play in the 2004-05 season. It was one of the first teams composed of male athletes ever to compete at such a high level with a female head coach, former Vanderbilt University star Ashley McElhiney. After a tumultuous season and a half, the team folded December 7, 2005. The Rhythm faced a unique challenge in that their home court, Allen Arena, was located on the campus of a Church of Christ-related school, Lipscomb University, and as such they were not allowed to sell alcoholic beverages at their home games, which are a particularly important revenue source for many minor league professional sports teams. On January 29, 2005, while coaching a one-point comeback win over Kansas City, Ashley McElhiney was fired by the team's co-owner Sally Anthony after an on-court dispute between the two women. The dispute began over McElhiney's decision to play Matt Freije, another former Vanderbilt star. As an attempt to gain publicity, the Rhythm (reportedly with Anthony's blessing) signed Freije to a two-game, $10,000 contract. Anthony claimed to have disapproved of the deal, and demanded that McElhiney bench Freije. The coach refused, not wishing to play without whom she considered the best player on the team. During the third quarter of the game Anthony became incensed with McElhiney's decision, and charged onto the court to confront her coach. Reportedly, the co-owner loudly used profanity and obscene gestures before being escorted out of the building by a security guard. The Rhythm managed to come back and win the game, but McElhiney was fired by Anthony shortly afterwards. In addition, she threatened to fold the team if the players took McElhiney's side against her and the other co-owners, one of whom is Anthony's husband. The next morning, paramedics were called to Anthony's residence, by Anthony's sister-in-law Susan Bucher, to treat her after either a fall down the stairs or a dog bite or mixing alcohol with the anxiety-relieving drug Xanax, depending on the story she gave at the time. Police were reported to have believed her injuries to be self-inflicted. McElhiney's firing was overturned and she returned to coach on February 5 for a game with the St. Louis Flight in her hometown of Gleason, Tennessee which was lost 130-114. The team apparently disbanded at the end of February 2005 when it was announced that it would not be contesting the playoffs despite qualifying for participation with an overall 21-10 record, which would have qualified them for an eight seed and to host a first-round game. The dissolution was considered to have been due to inadequate financing to continue operations; however, all players were reported to have been paid what they were entitled to up to that point. McElhiney, frustrated, subsequently resigned. However, in May 2005 it was announced by the ABA that two new owners would operate the Rhythm for the 2005-06 season; just what venue would be used was not announced at that time. The Tennessean, citing an unnamed source, claimed that the team still owed Lipscomb University back rent for Allen Arena but later carried a story stating that this situation had been resolved. The Rhythm's return was short-lived, however. After announcing a schedule consisting of home games to be played in several venues around Middle Tennessee, including Allen Arena, the Rhythm announced that they were suspending operations on December 7, 2005; the league had previously announced that it had suspended the team. The reasons for the action were not clear, but the team's schedule had undergone many last-minute changes in the preceding weeks leading sponsors and fans to question the stability of the franchise and the ABA as a whole; to that point, only one of the four scheduled games had actually been played at the time and place scheduled against the announced opponent. While both owners maintained that the team had paid all money owed to the players, Josh Cooperwood and Kyle Gribble both contested this assertion, saying they had gotten "the runaround" and that the ownership acted in an "unprofessional" manner. Both owners stressed that they remain committed to the franchise, and were looking at returning to ABA competition at an undetermined point in the future. External links ABC News: Harmonic note: ABA's Rhythm reinstates coach (2005-02-03) Dead link without replacement NPR: Woman Coach Stirs Up Men's Pro Basketball League (2005-02-05) The Jackson Sun News - 'Ashley Mac' is back in Gleason, back with her team (2005-02-06) Dead link without replacement Nashville Tennessean: Rhythm suspends operations (December 8, 2005) Dead link without replacement