WPS CEO Stresses Importance Of League Retaining Division I Status
WPS CEO Jennifer O’Sullivan said the league’s primary goal is to maintain its Division I status with the U.S. Soccer Federation, even though the league has shrunk to just five teams and lost its founding partnership with Puma. USSF rules require Division I leagues to maintain at least eight teams, although the federation granted WPS exceptions to that rule for the '10 and '11 seasons, when the league had six teams. In October, the league terminated its sixth team, the Boca Raton-based magicJack, for a litany of league violations. The league is currently involved in litigation with magicJack Owner Dan Borislow.
The USSF BOG met on Nov. 20 and gave WPS a 15-day extension to find a sixth team, but a USSF rep said the deadline is not a hard one. O’Sullivan said the league will either try to find a sixth team or try and convince the USSF BOG that the league can operate with five teams. “We continue to have positive discussions with U.S. Soccer and explore which options we have to maintain the status,” O’Sullivan said. “We’ve always said it’s not about the number of teams but about growing the league the right way.” Atlanta Beat Owner T. Fitz Johnson said the Division I status is needed to legitimize the league in the eyes of top players and partners. Johnson said the league is speaking with potential ownership groups in Detroit, Connecticut and Northern and Southern California.