WNBA proposal includes players receiving 100% of their salaries

3:15 PM ET

Mechelle VoepelESPN.com

CloseMechelle Voepel covers the WNBA, women’s college basketball, and other college sports for espnW. Voepel began covering women’s basketball in 1984, and has been with ESPN since 1996.

The WNBA has submitted a proposal to its players for the 2020 season that will include 100% of their salaries, multiple sources told ESPN.

The players will vote on the offer over the next two days. If there is agreement, the formal announcement could come Monday.

“It’s a very good proposal for the players, especially in comparison to other sports leagues,” one longtime WNBA agent told ESPN. “No one will criticize anyone who doesn’t want to play. But the majority of players definitely want to play. And they appreciate the work that’s been done by the league, the union and the executive committee to get to this proposal.”

The agent feels the league has tried to make the situation as comfortable and amenable to the players as possible considering the circumstances during the coronavirus pandemic.

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The league has proposed a 22-game regular season, starting July 24. The site reportedly will be IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. The WNBA was originally scheduled to begin on May 15 and have a 36-game season, which was delayed by the pandemic. The playoffs will be standard length: single-elimination first- and second-round games, then five-game series for the semifinals and the WNBA Finals. The playoffs would end in October.

The league’s initial proposal, as reported by ESPN on June 4, had a 60% salary offer, which the Women’s National Basketball Players Association pushed back on. The league, led by commissioner Cathy Engelbert, the union, led by executive director Terri Jackson, and the players’ executive committee, led by president Nneka Ogwumike of the Los Angeles Sparks, continued negotiating. The WNBA then agreed to full salaries.

Other details of the proposal reportedly include the following: Players, coaches and team personnel would be tested for the coronavirus upon arrival to the site, and testing would continue throughout their stay. Players with children would be allowed to bring them in, along with a caretaker; a source said it appeared their lodging, testing and meals would be paid for, similar to that of the players.

Players with at least five years’ experience can bring in a “plus-one” — a spouse or significant other — to stay on site for the season, but a source said they will need to pay for that person’s lodging, testing and meals, which could amount to about $4,000 per month. Once the playoffs reach the semifinals, all players would be allowed to bring in a plus-one.

A source said lodging would include multiroom villas, which have kitchens, and hotel rooms. Players would get some meals provided to them and have per diems to pay for other meals (or groceries if they are cooking) delivered to them.

There will be a provision for players to opt out of the 2020 WNBA season if they are medically certified as high-risk if they contract the coronavirus; these players would still get their full salary. Other players may opt out for any other reason with no penalty, but they wouldn’t continue to get a salary. All players already have received two paychecks, or about 18% of their 2020 pay.

The league and the union came together in January for a new collective bargaining agreement that provided increases in the salary structure. The WNBA held its draft April 17, and rosters were cut down by May 26 to a maximum of 12, which allowed players to get their first paychecks on schedule June 1.

At this point, specific details about coaching staffs, referees and other support personnel have not been revealed.

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