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Hoops Happening: Today in women’s basketball — Wednesday May 9, 2018

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Bethany Donaphin’s promotion to head of WNBA League Operations is but the latest example of what the WNBA gets right about education.

The Women's Sports Foundation's 38th Annual Salute To Women In Sports Awards Gala  - Arrivals
Chiney Ogwumike attends The Women’s Sports Foundation’s 38th Annual Salute To Women in Sports Awards Gala on October 18, 2017 in New York City.
Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Women's Sports Foundation

The WNBA announced yesterday that Bethany Donaphin was promoted to head of WNBA League Operations. She played professionally, including two seasons with the New York Liberty, and she holds a Bachelor’s degree in public policy from Stanford and Master’s in business administration from Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. She has previously worked for some of the country’s top corporations.

Donaphin is but the latest example of current and former WNBA players doing big things in other professions, thanks in large part to educational pedigree.

A persistent lack of societal visibility and media attention means women coming into the WNBA must sign up to earn unequal wages for equal work. This reality is behind the high rate with which collegiate women’s basketball players graduate college before entering the pros (with very rare exceptions).

In other words, women basketball players do not have the privilege of skipping out on their schooling. (Yes, this would be male privilege.) To ensure their long- and short-term financial futures, female basketball players graduate in droves, as witnessed in recent weeks.

Many of the top names in the game are college graduates, and many of these women put their skills to work while still playing ball. Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen graduated from University of Minnesota with a degree in sports management; now she is head coach of the U. of Minn. women’s basketball team. Connecticut Suns forward Chiney Ogwumike graduated from Stanford; she recently signed a multi-platform commentator deal with ESPN.

So, thanks in large part to sexism and gender inequality, women basketball players are becoming double and triple threats in a broad spectrum of fields — finding new ways to shine and maximize their potential.

Other happenings in women’s hoops

“True leadership knows no gender.” —Becky Hammon

A reminder that bears repeating.

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