The AP reports: The Houston Comets, a franchise that won the first four WNBA championships, is disbanding. The league-owned team will be shut down because new owners couldn’t be found. “You have to build on strength,” WNBA president Donna Orender told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “My outlook is to build on the fact that the league has great momentum and in Houston we didn’t have the enough runway to get a deal done in time for the 2009 season. So right now we have to move on.”

Ticker reports: The league will hold a dispersal draft for the remaining players on the Comets. “December 8 we will have a dispersal draft and the players who are available to be drafted will be drafted in an inverse order of finish by the current WNBA teams”, Orender said. “So the Atlanta team will have the first available player or the player they so chose on December 8.”

The Houston Chronicle reports: The decision to shutter the team came almost four months after the league took it over. The WNBA began running the Comets when owner Hilton Koch had decided to put the team up for sale. In mid-August, Houston Mayor Bill White issued a letter to potential investors, placing the value of the franchise at $10 million and setting a November deadline to find local ownership. Koch bought the team from Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander in October 2006. The team broke away from the Rockets’ organization, established a new front office, saw longtime head coach Van Chancellor resign and moved assistant coach Karleen Thompson into the top job.

Houston Rockets Owner Leslie Alexander issued the following statement today regarding the WNBA’s announcement that the Houston Comets will suspend operations this week.  Alexander was the original president and owner of the Comets from the 1997-2006 seasons before selling the team to Houston businessman Hilton Koch on January 31, 2007: “While this is a sad day for me personally, as well as for all who worked so hard to bring women’s basketball to our great city, the Comets were a source of deep pride for all Houstonians.  I will never forget our team making history by winning that first WNBA championship—then following it up with three more consecutive titles.  The team was a great source of inspiration and had a great impact on thousands of young women everywhere.  I will choose to focus on the many great times that we shared, and the incredible players like Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes, Tina Thompson and Kim Perrot, and of course our Hall of Fame coach Van Chancellor.  We had the most loyal and energetic fans in the league, and the team will be missed by all.”