Two former UConn stars are launching a new professional women’s basketball league in the US. On Thursday, Breanna Stewart and Napheesa Collier announced Unrivaled, which will run from January to March with the aim of giving WNBA players an alternative to playing overseas during the league’s offseason.
“We remain committed to the WNBA, however there’s a problem that exists, which is players having to choose whether to play overseas to maximize earnings in the winter or stay home with family. We’ve decided to create our own solution,” Collier wrote on Twitter.
The plan is to start with six franchises and 30 players competing in 3-on-3 and 1-on-1 contests. In the first year, all the games will be held in Miami but they hope to eventually expand to more locations in the future. Every player who signs up will receive equity in the new league as well as “salaries that are competitive to the WNBA,” per Collier.
The Las Vegas Aces’ Chelsea Gray has already committed to the league as a founding player.
Collier and Stewart told ESPN they’d prefer to remain stateside during the offseason, and this league will help them deal with the WNBA’s new prioritization rule. As part of the league’s most recent collective bargaining agreement in 2020, players must finish their overseas season prior to the WNBA’s opening day or else be ruled ineligible for the entire campaign.
Players frequently play across the pond during the league’s offseason as a way to maximize their income. In 2023, the WNBA’s maximum salary is $234,936 while the minimum is $62,285 for players with two or fewer years of experience and $74,305 for those with three or more years.
“You have a lot of people, especially college players, saying that they would prefer to be in college than come to the league,” Collier told ESPN.
With Unrivaled set to end in March, players will not only be finished in time for the start of training camp in late April or early May, but they’ll also have a short break prior to the WNBA season.
Twitter, DAZN, the WTA, and WWE have already reportedly committed to the league for the inaugural season, though Collier and Stewart are continuing to search for additional sponsors and investors.
“Stewie & I both have daughters,” Collier wrote on Twitter. “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.”