The war of words continues between U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert over the league’s support of the Black Lives Matter movement. While Engelbert and the WNBA have made clear Loeffler has not served as the managing partner of the Atlanta Dream since she was selected to replace Senator Johnny Isakson last fall and no longer runs the day-to-day operations of the franchise, many WNBA players have resoundingly denounced Loeffler’s involvement in the league. In an interview Thursday with CNN, Engelbert made it clear the league will not force Loeffler to divest from the Dream.
"The players have always taken a lead here on social justice, and I think as a league we've supported and stood by them on the causes that matter the most."
WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert on the league's support of the BLM movement pic.twitter.com/wbR5QIXpHx
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) July 16, 2020
Asked by CNN anchor Poppy Harlow whether the WNBA might follow suit of Loeffler’s campaign contributors and disassociate with Loeffler following her public statements criticizing the league for supporting the movement, Engelbert said it would not.
“We are not going to force her to sell her ownership (stake),” Engelbert said. “She is not a current governor, she is not involved the day-to-day, and we are aware there are interested parties who want to purchase the team.”
Many had compared this situation to the NBA running Donald Sterling out of the Clippers governorship last decade, and called on to Engelbert to do as Adam Silver did and force Loeffler out of her stake. Engelbert is instead making clear that Loeffler is not much of a factor in terms of running the Dream at this point, highlighting how Loeffler is using her pulpit as a minor WNBA stakeholder in an attempt to boost her senatorial hopes.
The situation appears untenable. Players continue to call on the league to do more, while Engelbert is trying to put out the fire without sweeping action. Loeffler, meanwhile, has not backed down from her stance. The league is likely hoping Loeffler either goes quiet or moves on from her relationship with the Dream of her own choosing, which would make sense, considering Loeffler continues to actively bash a team she chose to invest in.