Thursday morning, ESPN announced that the 2020 WNBA Draft will go on as scheduled but a previously planned in-person draft will now take part remotely without players, fans or media in attendance.
However, the network also announced that the Draft will air on ESPN2... despite sports being canceled or suspended due to the coronavirus.
When prior drafts aired on ESPN's secondary network, it made sense to do so due to ESPN airing the NBA games on their main network, but that season has been suspended until further notice.
Fans on social media felt that ESPN has no excuse to not air the draft on their flagship station with no competing events happening, including the presumed first overall selection, Sabrina Ionescu.
You guys really couldn't put this on ESPN, huh. https://t.co/K5mhNHGvuF
— Meredith Minkow (@murrminks) March 26, 2020
Why is this not on ESPN?
There is nothing else on in the world of sports.
The men programming at ESPN won't make the WNBA a priority on a night when they have no games being played? https://t.co/UjwDCGXjk4
— David Berri (@wagesofwins) March 26, 2020
It wasn't the first time college basketball's all-time leader in triple-doubles has criticized the network for their treatment of women's sports coverage.
.@OregonWBB guard @sabrina_i20 putting @espn on notice that there is only one @NCAA player who wears the crown when it comes to triple-doubles, and HER name is Sabrina Ionescu #GoDucks pic.twitter.com/kus2djjFSe
— journalistclark (@JournalistClark) March 25, 2019
However, after the response from social media, ESPN has admitted their mistake and has chosen to now air it on ESPN, according to Dan Bernstein of the Sporting News.
I'm told ESPN has changed course and will broadcast the draft on its main channel rather than ESPN2 with coverage beginning at 7 ET. https://t.co/FHxER1UFjK
— Dan Bernstein (@dan_bernstein_) March 26, 2020
After the change in tune, people gave credit where credit was due.
It shouldn't have required a course correction, but good by ESPN to realize the folly of putting the WNBA Draft, the only live sports event of the entire week, on ESPN and not ESPN2. Shows how ingrained the pecking order is that this was even a question, though.
— Howard Megdal (@howardmegdal) March 26, 2020
Yessassssssss WNBA Draft gonna be broadcasted on ESPN instead of ESPN2
— Ms Jae (@_Eccentrics01e_) March 26, 2020
Oregon Ducks teammates Satou Sabally and Ruthy Hebard are also expected to be taken in the first round along with Ionescu.
ESPN to air WNBA Draft on main network after social media backlash originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest