WNBA, Players Reach Tentative Deal on New Collective Bargaining Agreement

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJanuary 14, 2020

Los Angeles Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike plays against the Minnesota Lynx during the second half of a WNBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Chris Carlson/Associated Press

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert and Women's National Basketball Players Association President Nneka Ogwumike announced Tuesday on Good Morning America that the two sides have come to terms on an eight-year collective bargaining agreement:

As part of the announcement, Engelbert said top players will see their pay tripled once the new CBA is instituted.

The previous CBA had been set to run through 2021, but the WNBPA announced in November 2018 that it would opt out of the deal at the conclusion of the 2019 season.

Doug Feinberg of the Associated Press laid out a number of significant changes that will go into effect once the CBA is officially ratified.

Arguably, the biggest advancement for the players is a 50-50 split in revenue sharing beginning in 2021. Under the previous CBA, players received only about a 20 percent cut. At 50-50, the WNBA will mirror the split currently in place in the NBA.

The salary structure will also experience a shake-up. Top players can now make $500,000, the average salary will reach triple digits for the first time at around $130,000, and the maximum base salary will settle at $215,000.

Engelbert called the CBA "historic" and added: "You can pay your stars. That's how the league grows."

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Of the agreement, Ogwumike said: "It was collaborative effort. I think that we really all had the same things in mind and had different way of getting there. We really put our heads together and came with some ideas."

Quality of life improvements include an enhancement of the mental health and wellness program, while all players will receive premium comfort tickets for flights and no longer have to share hotel rooms.

Mothers and expecting mothers will also benefit from the CBA. Players will have their salary paid in full on maternity leave, and players who already have children will be provided with a two-bedroom apartment during the season.

There is also a major on-court change forthcoming in the form of an in-season tournament called the Commissioner's Cup, which is similar to the cup tournaments held in soccer. The idea is something the NBA has also been discussing recently.

Feinberg noted WNBA players will have plenty of incentive to perform well in the tournament since there could be a minimum of $750,000 in prize money involved.

The exact nature of the tournament and when it will be held will become clearer when the 2020 WNBA schedule is released Thursday.