• Loading stock data...
Sunday, April 21, 2024
  • -
  • -
  • -
  • -

Commissioner Cathy Engelbert Sees NIL As ‘Huge Positive’ For WNBA 

  • Engelbert says NIL-boosted college players help attract broadcast and corporate partners to the WNBA.
  • The commissioner reiterated to FOS that college players can carry their NIL deals into the WNBA.
NIL college stars help attract broadcast, corporate partners to the WNBA, Engelbert says.
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Commissioner Cathy Engelbert told Front Office Sports in an interview that NIL has been a “huge positive” for the WNBA and women’s sports. 

“I think it’s actually a huge positive for the women athletes and the women’s game,” Engelbert said. “This is a huge positive for us. I may not have predicted it that way three, four years ago, but they’re getting huge followership and marketing. It’s attracting broadcast partners and corporate partners to us when [college players] come into our league. So I think it’s a huge plus.”

While LSU gymnast Olivia Dunne ranks first among On3’s women’s NIL earnings list, college basketball players account for ten of the top-15 spots. “If you look at the Elite Eight teams last year, the men versus the women, four out of the top five NIL earners were women basketball players,” Engelbert added.

Earlier this month, WNBA legend Sheryl Swoopes said she was disappointed with instances where college players make more money in NIL deals than they would as a salaried WNBA player. “I think it’s sad when college players are making more money than a professional WNBA player; it doesn’t make sense to me,” Swoopes said. 

But Engelbert asserts that college players could maintain their NIL deals at they enter the WNBA, particularly if they’re aligned with the WNBA’s national partners, such as Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, Gatorade, CarMax, Ruffles, State Farm, Michelob Ultra, Body Armor, DoorDash, and PlayStation, among others. Aliyah Boston, the first overall pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft, signed a multi-year deal earlier this month with Adidas. 

“No one calls it NIL when they get to the pros, they call it a marketing partnership,” Engelbert said. “The player NIL can carry over with them into their WNBA professional careers, specifically if it’s with a national brand—it’s a marketing partnership with that player. And there’s less restrictions once you get into the pro leagues than college.” 

Engelbert specifically highlighted several WNBA players who have appeared in television commercials during recent NBA Playoff broadcasts—including Arike Ogunbowale for State Farm alongside Mark Cuban, CarMax’s ad with Candace Parker and Steph Curry, Nneka Ogwumike for Michelob Ultra alongside Jimmy Butler, as well as A’ja Wilson for Ruffles alongside Charles Barkley and other NBA stars.  

“I’m so amazed when I’m watching at how much our players are being marketed, and that’s our equivalent of NIL. And the more they come in [from college] with followership and brands that know them, the better they’re going to do in the WNBA from that perspective,” the commissioner said.

Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

Rockies Coach’s Team Plane Cockpit Visit Triggers Federal Investigation

A since-deleted video shows him sitting in the cockpit mid-flight.
Caitlin Clark

Fever’s Still Running: Tickets, Jerseys, and the Caitlin Clark Economy

Unprecedented ticket and merchandise demand for the WNBA rookie continues.

Caitlin Clark ‘Nearing’ $20 Million-Plus Nike Deal: Report

Clark had an NIL deal with Nike at Iowa as well.

Even Joe Biden Is Surprised By Caitlin Clark Making $76K

The president posted Tuesday night about pay disparities in sports.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

Why Ian Rapoport Lives for the NFL Draft’s Chaos


Featured Today

A Bare-Knuckle Fighter Won His Pro Debut. The Far Right Scored a Marketing Win

With Proud Boys sponsoring him, experts say extremist groups will use his success to elevate their ideologies and recruit new believers.
April 7, 2024

Women’s Basketball Finally Has a TV Deal to Match the Excitement. Now What?

A lucrative new media-rights contract could rectify problems of the past, but the future of March Madness media rights is anyone’s guess.
Mar 16, 2024; Washington, D.C., USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack forward DJ Burns Jr. (30) cuts the net after defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels for the ACC Conference Championship at Capital One Arena.
April 6, 2024

How Two College Seniors Helped DJ Burns Cash In on a Final Four Run

Two college seniors are facilitating deals for NC State’s big man.
Mar 31, 2024; Portland, OR, USA; NCAA officials measure the three point line while coaches from the Texas Longhorns and NC State Wolfpack watch with referees in the finals of the Portland Regional of the NCAA Tournament at the Moda Center center.
April 1, 2024

NCAA Has No One to Blame for Latest Women’s March Madness Transgressions

NCAA is still making avoidable mistakes three years after a complete overhaul.


Powered By

Careers in Sports

Looking for a new job? Check out these featured listings and search for openings all over the world.
Live Nation
Multiple - USA Careers
Multiple - USA Careers
Multiple - USA Careers

Stanley Cup-Keeper Miragh Bitove is Ready to Protect the Hardware

To safeguard what may be the most-recognizable trophy in all of sports, she’s never more than an arm’s length away from the precious metal.
April 17, 2024

Women’s Golf Has Five—Not Four—Majors, and That’s a Good Thing

The Chevron Championship tees of Thursday outside of Houston.
April 18, 2024

NBA Media Rights Likely Headed for Open Market Next Week

The league is reportedly letting Monday’s deadline pass without a deal.

Rapid Returns: How Technology Is Getting You Back to Your Seat

How Oracle’s POS technology is helping fans get back to their seats faster.
April 17, 2024

NBA Bans Jontay Porter for Life After Gambling Investigation

The NBA found that Porter gave injury information to sports gamblers, among other violations.
April 17, 2024

Warriors Missing Playoffs Has Big-Money Consequences

The NBA is losing one of its biggest postseason draws.
April 16, 2024

Caitlin Clark Drives Massive WNBA Draft Audience for ESPN

Clark’s coronation was the most-watched WNBA telecast in decades.
April 16, 2024

For Caitlin Clark and Other Rookies: Now a 29-Day Sprint to WNBA Debut

The league regular season starts swiftly after college basketball ends.