June 15, 2020
WNBA announces plan for 2020 season
Action tips off in late July. This story will be updated.
Welcome to The Next: A basketball newsroom brought to you by The IX. 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage, written, edited and photographed by our young, diverse staff, dedicated to breaking news, analysis, historical deep dives and projections about the game we love.
Subscribe to make sure this vital work, creating a pipeline of young, diverse media professionals to write, edit and photograph the great game, continues and grows. Paid subscriptions include some exclusive content, but the reason for subscriptions is a simple one: making sure our writers and editors creating 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage get paid to do it.
The long-awaited 2020 WNBA season is set to tip off in late July at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, as Arielle Chambers first reported.
The amended schedule features 22 regular-season games for each team “followed by a traditional playoff format,” the league says. Teams report to IMG Academy, which will serve as the location for games as well as training and housing, in early July for training camp.
“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,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert in a press release. “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.”
Though the season is modified, players will receive their full salaries and benefits, which comes after pushback over the league’s plans during early negotiations. According to WNBPA executive director Terri Jackson, full salaries were key to getting players onboard, writes Howard Megdal. Players who are considered high-risk for the coronavirus can opt out and still receive full salaries, Engelbert told the Associated Press. Players have until June 25 to notify their teams of their attendance.
The league also announced a platform, led by the plays, that will focus on social justice issues.
“In our discussions with the league, we emphasized and they agreed that a strong commitment to a 2020 season will give the WNBA the chance to show the world that it’s taking the steps needed to secure our livelihood and well-being, while also providing the opportunity to amplify our collective voice,” said WNBPA President Nneka Ogwumike in a press release. “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.”
The highly-anticipated season that followed an exciting free agency was originally set to begin on May 15, but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The modified season will be played without fans.
Matchups, game times and broadcast schedules have not been announced.
This story will be updated.