Breanna Stewart and Napheesa Collier, former UConn basketball stars, have unveiled plans to launch a groundbreaking professional women’s basketball league in the United States. Named Unrivaled, the league is scheduled to operate from January to March, offering WNBA players an alternative to competing overseas during the traditional league offseason.
In an announcement on Thursday, Collier expressed the duo’s commitment to the WNBA but highlighted a persistent issue faced by players who must choose between maximizing earnings overseas during the winter or staying home with family. Unrivaled aims to provide a solution to this dilemma.
The initial phase of Unrivaled will involve six franchises and 30 players engaging in 3-on-3 and 1-on-1 competitions. In its inaugural year, all games will take place in Miami, with plans to expand to additional locations in the future. Every player joining the league will be granted equity in the new venture, along with competitive salaries comparable to those in the WNBA, according to Collier.
Chelsea Gray of the Las Vegas Aces has already committed to being a founding player in the league.
Stewart and Collier shared with ESPN their preference to spend the offseason in the United States, and Unrivaled provides a solution to navigate the WNBA’s new prioritization rule. As per the league’s latest collective bargaining agreement in 2020, players must conclude their overseas commitments before the WNBA’s opening day, or they risk being ineligible for the entire season.
The financial motivation to play overseas has been a common practice among players, considering the disparity in earnings. In 2023, the WNBA’s salary scale ranges from a maximum of $234,936 to a minimum of $62,285 for players with two or fewer years of experience and $74,305 for those with three or more years.
Addressing concerns about players preferring college over the WNBA, Collier emphasized the importance of demonstrating to young girls that they don’t always have to wait their turn but can build their own path. Unrivaled, concluding in March, allows players not only to be ready for the WNBA training camp in late April or early May but also provides a brief respite before the official WNBA season begins.
The league has already secured commitments from Twitter, DAZN, the WTA, and WWE for its inaugural season, and Collier and Stewart are actively seeking additional sponsors and investors. Collier encapsulated their vision on Twitter, stating, “Stewie & I both have daughters. It’s our responsibility to show them & every young girl that looks up to us that sometimes you don’t have to wait your turn. You can either beg for a seat at the table or you can build your own table. We’re building our own table.”