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WNBA CASHES IN ON RECRUITMENT; ABL BACK TO DRAWING BOARD?
Published April 30, 1998
One year ago, the ABL "cleaned up in signing the top college seniors. This time, the mop was in the hands of the rival WNBA," according to Mel Greenberg of the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. The WNBA got commitments from 44 of this year's "roughly" 60 top seniors, and "the ABL only a handful." Woolf Associates VP Andrew Brandt, at yesterday's WNBA Draft: "A lot of players turned down significantly better financial offers by the ABL after seeing the WNBA on TV last summer." The WNBA held its Draft yesterday, one day after announcing the signings of All-American's Nykesha Sales from UConn, Kristin Folkl of Stanford and Ticha Penicheiro of ODU (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 4/30). Yesterday's top three picks of the WNBA's first round will earn a base salary of $50,000, picks 4-7 earn $44,000, picks 8-10 earn $37,500. Second-round picks earn $25,000, third round, $22,000 and fourth round earn $19,000 (Valerie Lister, USA TODAY, 4/30). CAN THE ABL BOUNCE BACK? ABL CEO Gary Cavalli said he offered Sales, Folkl and Penicheiro between $150,000 and $175,000, and added that the WNBA might have outbid the ABL: "I think they came up from last year. They sweetened their deals." The WNBA did not reveal contract terms (Portland OREGONIAN, 4/29). In Hartford, COURANT Associate Editor Jeff Rivers, under the header, "Sales' WNBA Choice Is Right One For Her," writes that the "seemingly inevitable march of the WNBA to the forefront of women's professional basketball is yet another sad example of a people trained to gorge on the sizzle rather than savor the steak in our society." But Rivers doesn't "blame" her for her decision (HARTFORD COURANT, 4/30). Also in Hartford, Riley & Berlet write that the ABL "couldn't deny that losing most" of the college seniors to the WNBA "looks bad." Riley & Berlet: "And while perceptions may be worse than reality, at least one ABL executive would like to see the process for recruiting top players improved." Quest GM/Coach Brian Agler said that coaches "need to be more involved" in the recruiting season (HARTFORD COURANT, 4/30). In L.A., Earl Gustkey writes that "the war in women's hoops has turned and the ABL's future is clouded. If this trend continues, the players the ABL now has will keep it a strong league through, perhaps, 2000. Then the slide will begin" (L.A. TIMES, 4/29).