Evie Goldstein, director of operations for the WNBA players’ union, wants to explore revenue opportunities and give the players a more powerful voice.
Editor’s note: Seattle Times reporter Jayda Evans will have a weekly conversation with a newsmaker in the WNBA. This week she speaks with Evie Goldstein, who was hired in February as the second director of operations for the WNBA players’ union since the organization was formed in 1998. Goldstein, a Yale alum, has worked as an attorney for the Major League Baseball Players Association (2000-06) and Lifetime Sports (1996-2000). Goldstein most recently was senior vice president of legal affairs and enforcement at Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), the self-regulatory body for the computer and video-game industry.
Q:You have a long history as an attorney in men’s major sports, including working with Jim Quinn and Jeff Kessler. What intrigued you about the WNBPA position?
Answer: When I was a baby lawyer (at Weil, Gotshal & Manges law firm in New York), I worked with them (Quinn and Kessler) and we represented the NFL’s PA, and I was involved with the Freeman McNeil case that brought free agency to the NFL in the 1990s. So, I was always interested in working in sports.
Q:Did you play basketball?
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A: I’m the youngest of three girls with a father who was all-state in three sports in Chicago. By the time I came around, he had given up on having a boy. So, yes, I was on the court with him every Saturday, being told that I had to learn to shoot a layup with my left hand from the left-hand side and make 10 free throws before I could go home.
Q:The WNBA and players’ union signed an eight-year collective-bargaining agreement in 2014, which can be terminated after six years. Will top WNBA salaries ever reach NBA minimums ($500,000)?
A: When you negotiate a CBA, the salary part is unlikely to change. But that’s not the only source of revenue for the women. There is a provision in the CBA that gives money back to players after an average team-ticket revenue reaches a certain point. The other source of revenue is licensing. More can be done with that. I’ve only been on the job six months, so I’m talking generally. But in our CBA, revenue share is based solely and singularly on averaged ticket revenue.
Q:How will the reported $1 billion Nike deal, which will replace Adidas in 2017 as the official apparel-and-uniform sponsor, impact WNBA players?
A: I want player input on the uniforms and everything else that Nike is going to design. There has been some unhappiness with certain uniforms designed for certain theme nights. The other thing is, I do hear from fans about there not being enough merchandise in stores that they can buy. I’d like to work with Nike on having a greater ability to get merchandise.
Q: You’ve introduced yourself to the players, what’s next?
A: I want to schedule a player advisory-committee meeting with the league. It’s one thing for me to talk to (WNBA president) Laurel Richie or Renee Brown (chief of basketball operations and player relations). It’s a very different thing for them to hear the issues and recommendations from five or six players sitting in a room with them. They’ve never really had an in-person, player advisory-committee meeting. It’s time we have one.
|Jayda Evans’ WNBA power rankings|
|Last week’s ranking in parentheses|
|1. (1)||New York||Loss vs. Tulsa tightened playoff race in East; 2½ games separate first- and fourth-place seeds|
|2. (2)||Minnesota||All-Star Seimone Augustus (knee) returned, and Lynx became first team to clinch a playoff berth|
|3. (3)||Chicago||Poor defensive execution in games causing Sky to yo-yo with playoff seeding in Eastern Conference|
|4. (4)||Los Angeles||Sparks 5-3 since Candace Parker’s return, host Indiana on Tuesday, which has won its past three games|
|5. (7)||Indiana||Canadian Natalie Achonwa scored 12 points Sunday to help country beat Cuba, qualify for 2016 Olympics|
|6. (6)||Washington||Mystics collect statement win vs. West-leading Minnesota, eighth win in past 11 games|
|7. (5)||Phoenix||Loss to Indiana on Sunday was Phoenix’s fourth home loss in past two seasons, now 26-4 overall.|
|8. (8)||Connecticut||Elizabeth Williams, 1st-round draft pick, out because of knee injury. Alyssa Thomas suffered shoulder injury|
|9. (9)||Atlanta||Showtime back in Shoni Schimmel, averaging 13 points in past five games, including four starts|
|10. (11)||Seattle||Rookie Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis averaging 13.6 minutes and 8.0 points in past five outings|
|11. (10)||San Antonio||Stars’ loss in Seattle dropped them to 0-13 on the road with four away games remaining|
|12. (12)||Tulsa||Snapped 10-game losing streak with win at New York, but veteran Plenette Pierson suffered knee injury|