The W receives historic capital raise

The WNBA now is infused with the largest ever capital raise—$75 million—in women’s pro sports history.

Nike, which is one of the league’s current partners and inaugural WNBA Changemaker, has made a significant equity investment in the league, and “further deepens the company’s support for women’s basketball,” read a league statement.  

WNBA legend and current New Orleans Pelicans Basketball Operations and Team Development Vice-President Swin Cash, NBA legend and businessman Baron Davis and Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State are among the initial investors’ group.

Both the NBA and WNBA’s respective Board of Governors approved the $75 million financial infusion that according to league officials will be used for marketing, WNBA globalization, innovation, digital and consumer growth, and human capital and operational optimization as part of an overall effort to address some of the league’s obstacles to growth and generating new revenue.

Commissioner Cathy Engelbert last week told reporters, including the MSR, “To build or grow a business, you have to have access to capital, and you have to have the right human capital and resources.”

When a reporter asked how this will directly impact players, Engelbert responded, “This ultimately will be of huge benefit to the players as we kind of transform this economic model. 

“The more revenue you have, the more that drops to the bottom line, the more efficient you become, the more excellent talent you have and the more you can do innovative marketing campaigns and elevate the players in the marketplace,” Engelbert continued. “It just gives us that ability now to invest in things that we didn’t have before.”

Engelbert added that the new money will help the league, along with the 12 current clubs, increase its value “even shorter term, medium-term and longer-term.”

When the MSR asked how the huge investment will impact the WNBA’s ongoing commitment for diversity, inclusion and equity, the commissioner said, “An important question as we think about again supporting women-owned businesses, Black-owned businesses, minority-owned businesses.  Also, you saw with our slew of new coaching hires we now are over half of our coaches, eight of 12 are women. We’ve got five persons of color coaching now, and so our owners are really stepping up.”

Courtesy of WNBA Cathy Engelbert

Noelle Quinn (Seattle), Vickie Johnson (Dallas), and Tanisha Wright (Atlanta) are three former Black W players that are now head coaches, and HOF Tamika Catchings is Indiana’s team president. James Wade, whose Chicago Sky won the 2021 WNBA title and Los Angeles’ Derek Fisher are the other Black coaches, both with dual HC-GM roles.

“We’ve had a diversity in coaching initiative,” continued Engelbert, “and we’ve had some incentives to get more former WNBA stars in coaching roles. That has happened, and it happened quicker than I thought, that then they rose to head coaching positions, which I think is great.

“I’m just proud of our owners and our coaches and GMs who are really stepping up and seeing the value of diversity, given how diverse our league is on the court,” said Engelbert.

The new money “also will help us be able to continue to do the investment in our social justice platform, in Black-owned businesses,” she confirmed. “Our teams are really doubling down on that as well, so we’ll help them think through that.”

Globe tracking the Lynx –

Crystal Dangerfield averaged 16 points and four rebounds for Elitzur Ramla that went 1-1 last week, and Kayla McBride had a 10-point performance in a six-point win for Fenerbahce last week as well.

Dangerfield is scheduled for action Thursday and Monday (Feb. 14).  McBride will be playing for USA, and Natalie Achonwa for Canada in World Cup qualifying action—the former on Thursday against Japan and Saturday against Bosnia & Herzegovina—McBride on Friday against Belgium and Saturday against Puerto Rico.

Finally–

Former Gopher Destiny Pitts had her third double-double of the season (20 points, 10 rebounds) to lead Texas A&M last Sunday to a 73-64 overtime victory over Kentucky.