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Sunday, April 21, 2024
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Iowa Star Caitlin Clark Makes It Official: She’s WNBA-Bound

  • The NCAA’s leading women’s basketball scorer announced she has opted to leave college women’s basketball.
  • Despite what some think, Clark will not take a massive pay cut to enter the WNBA.
Caitlin Clark
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday, Iowa star Caitlin Clark announced she is declaring for the WNBA draft. The NCAA’s leading women’s basketball scorer made the announcement with a graphic on X (formerly Twitter) and is expected to be the No. 1 pick.

“While this season is far from over, and we have a lot more goals to achieve, it will be my last one at Iowa,” Clark wrote Thursday. 

Rumors have swirled all season about whether Clark would exercise her extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but she had given zero hints until now. Just last week, she was asked by a local Indianapolis TV reporter whether she enjoyed the basketball environment in Indiana enough to consider playing for the Fever (who have the first pick in the upcoming WNBA draft).

This year Clark has regularly sold out arenas, been followed by fans spending thousands of dollars to travel to see her play all over the country, and driven record broadcast viewership. 

The next iteration of the “Caitlin Clark effect” will likely emerge over the coming days. She announced her decision just three days before her final home game in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, which was already slated to have the highest get-in non-general-admission ticket price of any women’s basketball game in history, college or pro. The Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament has already sold out for the first time. Expect secondary ticket sales for both events to continue to skyrocket. The ever-growing women’s March Madness tournament will undoubtedly benefit, too, as Iowa is a shoo-in for a spot in the field of 68.

Fever Frenzy

The WNBA will get a major star who would likely bring the ratings and ticket sales bonanza with her. The Fever have already begun promoting their season-ticket sales on social media.

Clark will undoubtedly earn the maximum WNBA salary: In her first year, that’s $74,000—and can eventually go up to about $250,000. Many have speculated she’ll take a pay cut from what she’s making in college, given that her name, image, and likeness deals with major brands, including Nike and Gatorade, could amount to an estimated $900,000. 

However, it’s likely she will make more money in the WNBA than at Iowa: Her salary will add to the existing sponsorship agreements that were reported to be for multiple years and are relationships that will surely follow her into the pros. She also won’t forgo any potential NIL collective earnings, given that she reportedly doesn’t take work with the school’s main collective.

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