WNBA announces plan to start season in late July at Florida’s IMG Academy

Photo Credit: Lamar Carter

Last week, the great Arielle Chambers posted a thread on Twitter detailing conversations she had with players in the talks between the league and its union regarding a 2020 WNBA season.

Those disagreements she mentioned were particularly between the WNBPA’s executive committee and the players as a whole. Those included talks of a 60% salary as well as issues on amenities and food.

It appears that those concerns have been alleviated as recent reports suggested the WNBA and the union were getting closer on agreeing – and that the players would be paid their full salaries along with other incentives. On Monday, the league announced its plans to go forward with a 2020 regular season at the IMG Academy.

The plan calls for a 22-game regular season that would begin in July and conclude in October that would be followed by a “traditional” postseason structure.

We will continue to consult with medical experts and public health officials as well as players, team owners and other stakeholders as we move forward with our execution plan. And, despite the disruption caused by the global pandemic to our 2020 season, the WNBA and its Board of Governors believe strongly in supporting and valuing the elite women athletes who play in the WNBA and therefore, players will receive their full pay and benefits during the 2020 season.

–WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert (press release)

We are truly looking forward to becoming the Official Home of the 2020 WNBA Season and working closely with the league in providing our best-in-class training competition environment.

–Tim Pernetti, Executive Vice President, IMG Events & Media (press release)

Howard Megdal has found that the 100% of salaries caveat is assuming the 2020 season and playoffs will be complete without a hitch. Players have until June 25 to inform teams if they intend to play this season.

The WNBA also announced that this season will be one where greater attention is brought to social justice issues which are at the forefont of the mainstream consciousness after the recent police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and most recently Rayshard Brooks.

We have always been at the forefront of initiatives with strong support of #BlackLivesMatter, #SayHerName, the LGBTQ+ community, gun control, voting rights, #MeToo, mental health and the list goes on. This is not only necessary from a humanitarian perspective, but it may be one of the biggest opportunities that this league has and will ever have.

–WNBPA President Nneka Ogwumike (press release)

Our society has learned or perhaps has been reminded of an important lesson: women are integral to the economic stability of their families and their communities. The league and the teams’ commitment makes a statement.

–Terri Jackson, WNBPA Executive Director (press release)

The WNBPA has yet to fully vote on the proposal, but the league announced its national television partners of ESPN, CBS Sports Network and NBA TV will still broadcast games.

One thing to keep in mind as the WNBA announced this plan is coronavirus cases are on the increase in Florida while on the decrease in states such as New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Washington state.

Mechelle Voepel of ESPN reports the plan was approved by 77% of players. That means roughly one in five players did not vote for the proposal – which could be a significant number as we hear which players will decide to opt out of going to Florida.

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