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WOMEN'S HOOPS: ACKERMAN TAKES OVER WNBA; BATTLE FOR STARS?
Published August 7, 1996
Val Ackerman, currently NBA VP of Business Affairs, has been named President of the new Women's NBA, which holds its inaugural season in '97, effective October 1. Ackerman will report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and COO Russ Granik (NBA). JUMP BALL: The new American Basketball League is scheduled to begin play on October 18, and ABL Co-Founder Gary Cavalli said that nine members of the U.S. Women's Olympic team -- all except Sheryl Swoopes, Rebecca Lobo and Venus Lacey -- have agreed to play. Seven of those nine have signed contracts, according to Cavalli, with "strong verbal commitments" from Lisa Leslie and Ruthie Bolton. The WNBA is seen by ABL backers as a "carpetbagger" and any hopes for a merger "seem unlikely" (Ann Killion, SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 8/4). USA TODAY notes "speculation" on how firm the ABL contracts and commitments are. Ackerman: "We don't see it as a competitive situation." WNBA cities will be chosen in the next few months and "player procurement" should begin in September. Ackerman: "Our hope is that we end up with some of the Olympic players. How many, I just don't know" (Steve Wieberg, USA TODAY, 8/6). LOST TO THE RUNWAY? Lisa Leslie, described as the U.S. team's "most effervescent personality," told the L.A. TIMES she plans to model first before signing with any pro league. Leslie, who has signed with the Wilhelmina agency: "I will play the game again. I'm not sure about when and where." The L.A. TIMES' Robyn Norwood notes, "It isn't particularly fair, but the future of women's basketball in this country might depend on the decisions made by Leslie and the rest of the Olympic team" (L.A. TIMES, 8/5).