The WNBA announced Monday it will tip-off this season after a two-month delay due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a written statement, the WNBA announced preliminary plans to return to play with a 22-game regular-season schedule, instead of the usual 34. The postseason will follow with the league’s traditional playoff format.
“We are finalizing a season start plan to build on the tremendous momentum generated in the league during the offseason and have used the guiding principles of health and safety of players and essential staff to establish necessary and extensive protocols,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert. “We will continue to consult with medical experts and public health officials as well as players, team owners and other stakeholders as we move forward with our execution plan.”
The 12 WNBA teams will be headquartered at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. The teams will hold training camp session in early July and start the season later next month. All games, including the playoffs, will be played without fans in attendance, on the IMG campus. The league also announced that all players will receive full pay and benefits for the 2020 campaign.
The league and the Women's National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA) both agreed on moving forward with an initiative to strengthen the reach of the teams and the league on social justice issues. The head of the WNBPA says that platform can be enhanced even in a short-season.
“We have always been at the forefront of initiatives with strong support of #BlackLivesMatter, #SayHerName, the LGBTQ+ community, gun control, voting rights, #MeToo, mental health and the list goes on,” WNBPA President Nneka Ogwumike said. “This is not only necessary from a humanitarian perspective, but it may be one of the biggest opportunities that this league has and will ever have.”