The WNBA announced Monday a framework for tipping off its season, which was postponed on April 3 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plan, which was deliberated with significant input from the WNBPA, will involve all 12 teams playing out a 22-game regular season and traditional playoff format, and will be hosted by IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Teams will report to IMG Academy in early July for training camps, with regular-season action beginning in late July, a statement from the league said.
Crucially, the league's statement also said players will receive "full pay and benefits" for the 2020 season. Details regarding medical protocol amid the still-unfolding pandemic are pending.
"We are finalizing a season start plan to build on the tremendous momentum generated in the league during the offseason and have used the guiding principles of health and safety of players and essential staff to establish necessary and extensive protocols," said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert in the statement. "We will continue to consult with medical experts and public health officials as well as players, team owners and other stakeholders as we move forward with our execution plan."
Also central to this restart will be providing players a platform to speak on issues of social justice - an area the league has been extremely progressive in in the past.
"In our discussions with the league, we emphasized and they agreed that a strong commitment to a 2020 season will give the WNBA the chance to show the world that it's taking the steps needed to secure our livelihood and well-being, while also providing the opportunity to amplify our collective voice," said WNBPA President Nneka Ogwumike in a statement. "We have always been at the forefront of initiatives with strong support of #BlackLivesMatter, #SayHerName, the LGBTQ+ community, gun control, voting rights, #MeToo, mental health and the list goes on. This is not only necessary from a humanitarian perspective, but it may be one of the biggest opportunities that this league has and will ever have."
Typically, the WNBA's regular-season slate is 34 games long, followed by a four-round, eight-team playoff. The first two rounds of said playoff are single elimination between seeds Nos. 3 through 8 before giving way to best-of-five series in the semifinals and Finals.
A late-July restart would mark about a two-month delay, as the season usually runs from late May through early October.
WNBA announces plan for 2020 season starting in July, will pay players in full originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago