Women's league gets NBA endorsement Teams would begin play in summer of 1997

April 25, 1996|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

In a move that long had been rumored in women's basketball circles, the NBA's Board of Governors yesterday unanimously endorsed a plan to create a women's NBA that would open play in the summer of 1997.

Though the league was vague on specifics, sources close to the project said the NBA is expecting to field eight league-owned teams with 12 players each that would play 25-30 games in NBA arenas during a period from mid-June to mid-August.

Commissioner David Stern, who, as early as the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, spoke of the possibility of an NBA-sponsored women's professional league, said details would be announced in early July.

"There was a strong statement of interest that this is a good idea, a right idea," Stern told the Associated Press. "This is another opportunity to grow the sport of basketball."

The NBA currently is involved in marketing and sponsoring the United States women's national team that is touring the country and is expected to form the core of the U.S. Olympic team that will compete in Atlanta this summer.

Sponsors involved with the national team, like Nike, Champion, Kraft, Lifetime television and Tambrands, are expected to take active sponsorship roles with the women's NBA. The league also is rumored to be in discussions with ABC and ESPN for telecast rights to the new league.

Stern said female players, who now mostly pursue post-graduate playing opportunities in Europe, would have the option to play in any other professional league, including the proposed American Basketball League, which has announced plans to begin play in eight cities this fall.

However, some player agents have expressed doubts about the viability of the ABL, given that it has no television contract and will play its games against the women's college schedule.

Pub Date: 4/25/96

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