Athletes Unlimited today announced the launch of a new professional women’s basketball league, set to debut in January 2022. Basketball will be the fourth Athletes Unlimited league, joining a growing community that includes softball, volleyball and lacrosse, each led by world-class pro athletes.
The league also announced its first three players: Washington Mystics standout Natasha Cloud and WNBA veterans Sydney Colson and Ty Young. The league will feature 44 players overall and the season will be played in the same city running from January 29 through February 28. Players will earn points each week based on their team’s results as well as some individual stats. At the end of the week, the leading four players will draft the teams for the next week’s games.
The rules will be similar to the WNBA. There will be over $1 million for the 44 players to earn with the winner receiving roughly $50,000. The league is still finalizing the city where the games will be played. AU said as opposed to WNBA players often going overseas in the offseason to supplement their income, “the financial incentives (will) allow athletes to earn more in a five-week season than they would playing seven months overseas.”
“Athletes Unlimited has built the highest quality and most successful versions of softball, lacrosse and volleyball leagues in the United States we have seen to-date, and we couldn’t be more excited to apply our innovative model to basketball,” said Athletes Unlimited Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Jon Patricof. “We have seen significant ratings increases in the WNBA, massive growth in the NCAA and a burgeoning landscape around the world. With the launch of Athletes Unlimited, pro women’s basketball will be played during the winter to coincide with fans’ engagement with the NBA, NCAA and international basketball, and brings us closer to the year-round access fans have on the men’s side.”
Athletes Unlimited started in 2020 and has softball, volleyball and lacrosse leagues in which there are no team owners and players share in league profits. Basketball will also have a charity component to it, as each player will be playing for a cause. At the end of the season, Athletes Unlimited will also donate 50 percent to the players’ charities based on the bonus money the athletes won during the season.