Last May, the WNBA announced that they would be hiring former, Deloitte CEO, Cathy Engelbert, as the league’s first Commissioner and replaced former President Lisa Borders. Borders step down to become the first-ever President and CEO of Time’s Up on October 2, 2018, according to WNBA.com.
Engelbert would take her new position on May 24, 2019, shortly after the 2019-20 season started.
“Cathy is a world-class business leader with a deep connection to women’s basketball, which makes her the ideal person to lead the WNBA into its next phase of growth,” Silver said, via CBS Sports. “The WNBA will benefit significantly from her more than 30 years of business and operational experience, including revenue generation, sharp entrepreneurial instincts, and proven management abilities.”
Engelbert believed that she was taking over at a very important time since the league was announced back in 1996.
“It is an absolute privilege to be joining the WNBA at such an exciting and important time in its history,” Engelbert said. “I see tremendous opportunity to bolster visibility for the sport of women’s basketball, empower the players, and enhance fan engagement. I look forward to using my business expertise and passion for basketball to promote women in the game and beyond, and to working with the teams and world-class athletes to help grow this league into a thriving business.”
Las Vegas Aces Forward A’Ja Wilson Weighs-in on Engelbert
Las Vegas Aces third-year forward A’ja Wilson shared with me that new WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert has been open to players’ ideas. After Wilson took part in the Mountain Dew sponsored event Courtside Studios, revealed her interaction with Engelbert every time she is in New York City.
“She is a lot of fun and she is really open to all of our ideas. I feel like every time I go to New York, I can’t get out of there without talking to her and I think that’s key,” said Wilson. “In as how we grow because she wants to hear us out and wants to understand what is going on within our teams. I’m not a player rep on our team, but I do of course have a lot of things on my mind and give me the opportunity to talk to her from a ‘me’ standpoint more, so than a rep standpoint.”
On Wednesday [February 19, 2020], Engelbert was interviewed by Aaron Elstein of crainsnewyork.com. During their chat, Engelbert was asked what is she looking to achieve in her new role.
“I have a vision to transform the way corporate sponsors look at women’s sports. Less than 5% of corporate sponsorship money goes to women’s sports and less than 5% of media coverage,” Engelbert said. “My goal is to get both up to 10%. That will improve the player experience, fan engagement—and all tides will rise.”
Elstein followed that question with how she planned on getting more sponsors and coverage if the game were more popular?
“That’s the challenge. We have great assets in our dynamic, elite players. The women’s World Cup in soccer happens only every four years, but the WNBA plays every year, so we have an opportunity to capitalize on the moment and momentum in women’s sports generally. The league will take a break in July so our best players can go to the Olympics. I think that exposure will be great for the game.”