Report: The WNBA’s New Proposal For The 2020 Season Includes Full Pay For Players

After further discussions with members of the players’ union, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert’s new plan to start the 2020 season now includes paying players 100 percent of their salaries, reported ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel. The news comes three days after The Next reported that many players were unhappy with the league’s original proposal, which stipulated that players would only get paid 60 percent of their normal salaries.

The current proposal is for the WNBA to hold a shortened 22-game regular season at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida beginning July 24. The 2020 season was set to start on May 15 and consists of 36 regular season games, but Engelbert was forced to suspend play in early April due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The playoff format, which includes single-elimination first and second-round games and then five-game series for the semifinals and finals, will reportedly stay the same and end in October as usual if the shortened season is accepted.

The original proposal, which ESPN first reported on June 4, did not include details of COVID-19 testing procedures or housing. However, The Next’s Arielle Chambers reported that the original plan included boxed lunches and shared hotel rooms with no guests allowed, two issues that concerned players. Former Los Angeles Sparks GM Penny Toler also spoke out against the original proposal, arguing that players should get paid in full for the many risks and sacrifices they’d be taking in order to bring basketball back.

The WNBA’s most recent proposal is similar to the NWSL’s approved plan, which also includes guaranteed salaries, housing, and accommodations for player with children. The NWSL is set to be the first American sports league to return when its Challenge Cup kicks off June 27 in Utah.

Players will reportedly be able to opt out of the WNBA’s season, although those who choose to do so but are not certified as high-risk for COVID-19 will not get paid. In terms of testing protocol, Voepel reported that “players, coaches and team personnel would be tested for the coronavirus upon arrival to the site, and testing would continue throughout their stay.” Additionally, while players with children would be allowed to bring them to the bubble site, only players with at least five years’ experience would be able to bring a “plus-one” — a spouse or significant other — for the entire season, but a source told ESPN “they will need to pay for that person’s lodging, testing and meals, which could amount to approximately $4,000 per month.” Once the playoffs reach the semifinals, all players would be allowed to have a plus-one.

According to Voepel, the players will vote on the new proposal over the next two days and a formal announcement could come as soon as Monday.