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What’s going on in the WNBA? High-level resignations cause concern

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When Los Angeles Sparks President and Chief Operating Officer Christine Simmons stepped down last week, she became just the latest in a string of high-ranking WNBA executives to resign from their posts.

WNBA Finals - Game Two
Former WNBA president Lisa Borders prior to tipoff of Game 2 of the WNBA Finals in Seattle, Wash. on Sept. 9, 2018.
Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images

Los Angeles Sparks President and Chief Operating Officer Christine Simmons stepped down last week to become the “first-ever Chief Operating Officer of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, effective Jan. 11, 2019,” becoming the latest high-ranking person to leave the LA organization within the last month.

Brian Agler resigned as head coach of the Sparks last month and was since hired by the Dallas Wings; Simmons’ resignation came just a week after Agler’s introductory news conference in Dallas. Although Agler spoke only in glowing terms of the Sparks organization, citing no specific reason for wanting to leave LA, his resignation, followed by Simmons’ resignation — with the strange circumstances surrounding the Derek Fisher hire in the middle of all of it — naturally are raising eyebrows.

The resignations of both Agler and Simmons spark concern about potential issues in the LA organization, but Simmons’ resignation raises questions about the health of the league because of its timing in the overall context of WNBA resignations.

Soon after the WNBA Finals, Lisa Borders announced her resignation as WNBA president to accept a position leading Time’s Up. Borders’ October surprise was stunning on its own, but it drew even more concern because she was the third executive to leave the WNBA front offices in a short time.

In a phone call with the Associated Press following her resignation, Borders said, “The sky is absolutely not falling,” and chalked the string of departures up to “a natural evolution in any business” ... which doubters would believe if the WNBA was not still fighting to gain mainstream legitimacy, if the WNBPA had not opted out of its collective bargaining agreement signaling a showdown with the league, if it just didn’t feel like the WNBA is heading towards some kind of make-or-break reckoning.

Until things come a head, we’ll be keeping track:

WNBA resignation watch

Here’s a list of people who have resigned from positions with the WNBA, and the approximate dates on which their resignations were announced: