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Volume 26 No. 175
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WNBA Players Get Significant Salary Bump As Part Of New CBA

The WNBA said there will be a 53% increase in total cash compensation as part of the tentative agreement
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES
The WNBA said there will be a 53% increase in total cash compensation as part of the tentative agreement
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES
The WNBA said there will be a 53% increase in total cash compensation as part of the tentative agreement
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

The WNBA and WNBPA have "come to tentative terms" on a new CBA, which includes a "significant salary bump for the league's highest-paid players, going from an annual base salary of $117,500 to $215,000," according to Mechelle Voepel of ESPN.com. The new CBA was announced this morning on ABC's "GMA" and includes "other cash compensation increases, changes to free agency, travel improvements, additional motherhood and family-planning benefits, enhanced marketing and career-development opportunities, and changes to revenue-sharing potential." WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said, "It's a groundbreaking and historic deal." Voepel notes the agreement is for eight years, from the '20-27 seasons, with a "mutual opt-out provision after six years." Those were the "same terms for the previous agreement" in '14. The CBA is "pending ratification by the players and the league's board of governors, both of which are expected." The WNBA said that there will be a 53% increase in "total cash compensation, separate from insurance benefits, housing, per diems, etc." Cash compensation "consists of base salary, additional performance bonuses, prize pools for newly created in-season competitions, and league and team marketing deals." That means the league's top players "could earn cash compensation in excess of $500,000, which would more than triple the prior maximum compensation." The in-season competitions will include "something called the Commissioner's Cup," which will be further detailed when the league announces its '20 schedule later this week. As for revenue sharing, starting in '21, there will be a "chance for a 50-50 split between players and the league" (ESPN.com, 1/14).

KEY ELEMENTS OF NEW CBA
  • Minimum of $750,000 in prize money for special competitions
  • Minimum of $1.6M in offseason league and team marketing agreements
  • 50-50 revenue sharing beginning with '21 season
  • Unrestricted free agency available to players one year earlier
  • Individual hotel room accommodations for every player
  • Premium Economy class status for all players for regular-season air travel
  • Players receive full salary while on maternity leave
  • Enhanced mental health benefits and resources
  • WNBA will work with affiliated sponsors to provide offseason job opportunities
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Key Elements Of New WNBA CBA

LOOKING AT THE DETAILS: In N.Y., Howard Megdal notes with the CBA comes a "new requirement that will be gradually phased in: Players must be in WNBA training camps from the start." No more "reporting late, or even after the season begins, to finish commitments to clubs overseas, with exceptions built in only for national team play and players in their first three seasons." Meanwhile, the league's teams, which "provide housing, will now guarantee two-bedroom apartments for players with children." Travel will now include "individual instead of shared hotel rooms for every player." But players will "still have to fly on commercial, not charter, planes to games, though they will receive economy-plus flight accommodations." Player movement also will "become easier, echoing an NBA trend to give players more opportunities to change teams or sign new deals." In the last agreement, players "could not reach unrestricted free agency until they had played six full seasons." That number would now "become five." The league will, over the next several years, "reduce how many times a team can designate someone as a core player and thus prevent them, even as an unrestricted free agent, from leaving the team" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/14).

BIGGER PICTURE: During the announcement on "GMA," Engelbert said the new CBA will "redefine what it means to be a professional female athlete in society today and we're hoping to lift not just women in sports and women in basketball, but women in society." ABC's Robin Roberts noted sport is a "microcosm on society." WNBPA President Nneka Ogwumike said this is "really going to set the tone" and as "we have women's soccer, we have women's hockey that are looking up to what we are looking to do and so we are really hoping it can set the tone and really create that legacy for women in sports moving forward" ("GMA," ABC, 1/14). The AP's Doug Feinberg notes Engelbert "touted the new 'Changemakers' program, with key sponsors supporting the WNBA in its transformation across marketing, branding and player and fan experiences." AT&T, Nike and Deloitte are the "inaugural three business partners" (AP, 1/14).