The W.N.B.A., which has been with out a everlasting chief since Lisa Borders resigned as president in October, has appointed Cathy Engelbert as its new commissioner. Ms. Engelbert will take over a league that’s working to rebrand itself and is engaged in a labor negotiation with a fast-approaching deadline.
Ms. Engelbert was elected chief govt of the accounting group Deloitte in 2015. At Deloitte, a non-public firm, companions elect the chief govt to serve a four-year time period. In March, Deloitte’s companions elected the brand new chief govt. Engelbert will be part of the W.N.B.A. on July 17 after her time period ends.
“Cathy is a world-class enterprise chief with a deep connection to ladies’s basketball, which makes her the best particular person to guide the W.N.B.A. into its subsequent section of development,” Adam Silver, the commissioner of the N.B.A., stated in an announcement Wednesday.
Ms. Engelbert has been with Deloitte since 1986, after she graduated from Lehigh College, the place she was captain of the basketball staff. She averaged 14 factors a recreation in her senior 12 months because the Mountain Hawks received the East Coast Convention event. Within the title recreation, Ms. Engelbert scored 20 factors and was credited in The Morning Name of Allentown with conserving “the items glued collectively when the cracks began to point out.”
In an announcement Wednesday, Engelbert stated it was an “absolute privilege to be becoming a member of the W.N.B.A. at such an thrilling and essential time in its historical past.”
“I see large alternative to bolster visibility for the game of girls’s basketball, empower the gamers and improve fan engagement,” she stated.
Ms. Engelbert has been an advocate of inclusion within the office. She has spoken about virtually quitting Deloitte within the 1990s whereas pregnant along with her first baby, and beneath her management the agency introduced a 16-week paid household depart coverage.
The W.N.B.A.’s gamers’ union stated it was “inspired” that the league had chosen somebody with Engelbert’s enterprise expertise and information of the sport.
“We look ahead to working with Cathy, and seeing a redefined dedication to insurance policies that worth and assist the working ladies and dealing moms throughout the league,” the Ladies’s Nationwide Basketball Gamers Affiliation stated in an announcement. “The progressive pondering and values Cathy has demonstrated all through her profession depart us optimistic about what the long run may appear to be for W.N.B.A. gamers.”
At Lehigh, Engelbert performed beneath the Corridor of Fame coach Muffet McGraw, who has twice led Notre Dame to N.C.A.A. ladies’s championships. On the Remaining 4 this 12 months, Ms. McGraw made an impassioned case for hiring extra ladies to educate ladies’s basketball.
The W.N.B.A.’s 23rd season begins on Might 24, and can play an outsize position in its future at a time when different ladies’s skilled sports activities leagues are struggling. Ms. Engelbert can have little time to get her ft moist.
The league has a brand new brand and colour scheme, and final month introduced an settlement with CBS Sports activities Community to get extra of its video games in entrance of a nationwide viewers. Whereas the tv viewers was up final season, attendance was down 13 p.c, partially as a result of the Liberty’s residence video games moved from Madison Sq. Backyard to the a lot smaller Westchester County Heart.
The W.N.B.A. has been with out a president since October, when Ms. Borders stepped right down to run Time’s Up, an advocacy group for ladies within the office. Mark Tatum, the deputy N.B.A. commissioner, has been performing as interim president.
Ms. Engelbert will lead the league by way of labor negotiations with its gamers, that are persevering with. Final fall, the gamers exercised their choice to terminate the collective bargaining settlement after the 2019 season, sad a few wage construction negotiated earlier than the league’s most up-to-date take care of ESPN, which greater than doubled annual tv income, together with what the gamers view as substandard working situations and different issues.