Guru News And Musings: Elsewhere - A New WNBA President
Timing was not everything for the WNBA Thursday in announcing veteran marketing executive Laurel J. Richie, a senior vice president and chief marketing officer with Girl Scouts of the USA, as the women's pro basketball league's third president in its 15-year history.
The WNBA/NBA PR machine, somewhat lacking the luster it once held, managed to roll out a name without rolling out the body.
Richie, who may or may not become a household name in the women's pro game, won't be made available to the press until Tuesday.
That relegated the announcement of her hire to be placed in print publications as well as in many internet websites and tweeter accounts in the shadows of the daily spin of the current collegiate coaching carousel which stopped for a while Thursday in Westwood, Calif.
That's where Cori Close, associate head coach of Florida State, was announced as the new head coach of UCLA three weeks after the departure of Nikki Caldwell to LSU.
Close previously worked as an assistant with the Bruins and is known for helping build teams like Florida State that can score, except when making stops in the state of Connecticut at Yale and against the Huskies.
Sorry, couldn't resist that.
Ironically UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero commented that the Bruins had "a robust list" of candiates and just needed to determine who really wanted the job and who was using the vacancy as leverage.
Based on reports on her way out the door, it appears that UCLA's previous coach did the latter of the two in tripling her salary in taking the LSU job after the Bruins failed to provide a substantial counter offer.
So timing wasn't great in tinsel town for the WNBA, the home of the Sparks, where Close's hire was given good coverage by the L.A. Times and Richie's hire took some perusing the paper's website to find that news.
Meanwhile, it appears that Bowling Green's Curt Miller suddenly has caught the fancy of California, which is looking to replace Joanne Boyle, who departed for Virginia.
Miller was on campus in Berkeley Thursday while the other name that also getting increased attention is Lindsay Gottlieb, the UC Santa Barbara head coach who was a previous associate head coach under Boyle with the Golden Bears.
New Mexico was also considered a likely place for Miller to land but it now appears the Lobos (the college team not the former UConn star and her family) will stay in-house with the hire of Yvonne Sanchez.
Also on Thursday Jenny Palmateer, a former assistant on the late Kay Yow's staff at North Carolina State and currently an aide to Anne Donovan at Seton Hall, was introduced as the new Monmouth coach in central New Jersey, succeeding Stephanie V. Gaitley, who filled the Fordham vacancy.
Down Charlotte way -- the city in the Tar Heel State as well as the school -- the 49ers of the Atlantic 10 may be ready to make a hire.
A source said that the successor to Karen Aston would be a young assistant out of the Big East but not a minority person nor UConn's Shea Ralph, a Huskies assistant and former star at the school who is a native of the state.
If true, Marquette assistant Cara Consuegra, whose name had been mentioned as a candidate, fits the profile. A former Iowa star, she also was a director of basketball operations at Penn State somewhat near the end of the Rene Portland era.
Texas A&M assistant Vic Schaefer of the newly crowned NCAA champion Aggies is believed to have been given an interview. VCU's Beth Cunningham, who was briefly involved at Xavier before the Musketeers stayed in house with the promotion of Amy Waugh, has also been said to be on the Charlotte search list along with one or two others.
It doesn't appear that Xavier assistant Mike Neighbors is involved with Charlotte, making him still an appealing catch for someone along with former LSU assistant Bob Starkey, who was an assistant to the ousted Van Chancellor at LSU as well as previous Tigers coach Pokey Chatman, the new coach of the WNBA Chicago Sky.
The Guru was told by a usually knowledgeable source from past dealings, that two other jobs may soon open that haven't been announced but was not given the names.
No news on Maine other than the new coach won't be Bears fan and horror author Stephen King, who became enamored of the program during the days of scoring sensation Cindy Blodgett, who was recently let go from her alma mater.
Back To the WNBA News
Sorry folks but the Guru's heavy traffic in recent weeks to this site and his twitter account has been driven by the previous items.
So now turning attention to the other news of Thursday:
The Guru begins with this stranger-than-fiction account of unwittingly crossing paths with the unknown future.
When Donna Orender departed last December as president after a six-year run in the wake of Val Ackerman's presidency of the WNBA, the Guru, noting the numerous times Orender would bring a group into the New York Liberty locker room at the same time media types would be trying to do postgame interviews, remarked that "Well, with Donna gone I guess we won't be seeing the girl scouts around here as much."
With the hire of Richie, the WNBA apparently got its woman based on what NBA officials, including commissioner David Stern, said they were after to fill the vacancy.
Give the boys of New York (sorry the Guru does not believe any females were in the loop but could be wrong) credit with keeping the hire close to the vest.
One did briefly wonder if during the interview process whether the subject of Girl Scout cookies came up and the WNBA thought that the candidate promised to make the league a mint when she may have offered to actually bring boxes of them.
Sorry, but the Guru's fan club at several WNBA locales wanted him to stick that remark in this post as well as the observation that given the lack of sports background of the new WNBA president that the Guru was still on equal footing as with Richie's successors except that in this case the Guru had never heard of Richie and vice versa.
In looking at reaction from some of his colleagues and good friends, the Guru must take issue with the idea that an opportunity was lost by not having Richie available at the Women's Final Four or at draft day.
First, who knows if the hiring process was actually completed when the time came for the collegiate championship in Indianapolis.
Furthermore, only four WNBA markets had media representatives on the scene -- Indianapolis, as the host city; New York (only the Times); Connecticut (participant) and Washington (The Post, which was one of the very, very few print publications not involved in either geographical proximity or team participantion that sent a women's beat writer.)
As for Draft Day, things went so well with the ESPN setup that people actually began to wonder whether a WNBA president was actually a necessity.
And, hey, the players should be the ones getting all the attention that day because they are the future on which the league will continue to rely to grow.
Richie appears as though she will be able to help with marketing the league and getting it more into the mainstream.
A friend on a call Thursday night noted that considerng the Girl Scout background, there may be a push for more weekend afternoon games to get people in the seats.
But that might create an interesting debate since the ESPN-TV partner is focused on viewers and best airing times.
Which brings the Guru to the next point, which he as alluded to previously in terms of the new techology: You folks really need to produce an IPad apps for the WNBA in the same manner as the fabulous NBA Courtside Apps, or, even better, the March Madness apps that allowed viewing of all the men's games.
With the fact that the league already offers free streaming via computers, enabling the access of an Ipad could put untold new audieces into the mix considering being able to catch games while either sitting at the beach, riding public transit, or dining in restaurants where wifi hotspots exist.
Anyhow, going in the other direction, because the press conference isn't until next week, timing really wasn't everything Thursday as the Guru makes the illustration in this post.
Since 99 percent of the women's media and maybe 95 percent of the league. if not more, had no idea of Richie's existence, what was the rush when compared with the way Orender was trumpeted when her appointment was announced.
Actually, even if Richie wasn't available, a housekeeping brief teleconference could have been held so the league might talk about the search process to get that out of the way.
Everyone is probably curious as to who found who and if the WNBA made the initial approach to Richie, what was the motivation, who made the recommendation.
Quite possibly Orender could have made a recommendation given her contact over the years with such groups as the Girl Scouts.
As for a new style from the presidency, one can envision that other than the introductory trot out tour in the front part of the season, one will not run into the previous litany of state of the league visits that were part of the previous two presidents' duties.
In fact, in making the rounds, the league would be much smarter to target Richie's Tour De Franchises with interview abilities on the day BEFORE a scheduled home game rather than the pre-game rush jobs when most writers are focused on the floor action while presidential visits are notebook fodder.
As for those worried about Richie's ability to make the basketball decisions involving franchise relocation, etc., without a sports background, understand it is Stern and the NBA elders as well as WNBA board of directors calling the shots.
Ackerman, off her lawyer expertise, and Orender, off her ability to size up situations via her many franchise visits, had major input. Whoever pulls the trigger on major issues, it will still be placed under the signature of Richie.
In terms of player issues, besides the WNBA home office reps, the Guru has been told that the major player from day one back in 1997 is legal counsel Jamin Dershowtiz, who has been helpful to general managers and coaches, especially in terms of player contracts and endorsements.
And the fact that Richie will report directly to NBA deputy commissioner and chief operating officer Adam Silver instead of NBA Commissioner David Stern, that's not really a big thing.
Stern has much on his plate on the NBA side and Silver is in close enough contact that if Stern is needed to get involved in something he will, and if not, he won't, as long as he is made knowledgeable of all that he needs to know.
This league is still his baby, which is now in its formative years.
Richie's job is to bring the child into full adulthood.