Laurel Richie becomes not only the first black president of the WNBA, she is also the first to have no prior basketball experience.
The Women’s National Basketball Association surely hopes that Richie can yank the 15-year-old league out of the realm of irrelevance and firmly entrench it into the consciousness of the mainstream. A league comprised of the very best players in the world, the WNBA nonetheless has been unable to grasp the imagination of an uninterested general public.
The league is betting that Richie’s strong business pedigree, marketing experience and work with the Girl Scouts and Big Brothers Big Sisters will imbue some new spark into the women’s league.
“The WNBA is comprised of the best female basketball players in the world, and I’m looking forward to working with these talented women as they strive to achieve their professional goals both on and off the court,” said Richie, the former chief marketing officer of the Girl Scouts of America. “I am fortunate to have worked with an organization as inspiring as Girl Scouts, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to build upon the successes of the WNBA and help grow this league into a world-class business.”
Within her portfolio, Richie also boasts her tenure with the national advertising agency, Ogilvy & Mather, where she developed campaigns for such companies as American Express and Pepperidge Farm.
The WNBA is trying to prove their product is worth selling and watching; thus, the reason for importing a marketing guru to lord over operations. And Richie comes when arguably the best college player of all time, Maya Moore, enters the league. The quality of play is at an all-time high. The shrinking of roster sizes, with 11 players per team, has left room for only the best of the best. –terry shropshire