NEW YORK (AP) — The WNBA and the players' union have agreed to a new eight-year collective bargaining agreement Thursday night, pending approval by the league's Board of Governors.
"It's really exciting," WNBA President Laurel Richie told The Associated Press by phone. "Both sides started in the process wanting to come out with an agreement in the end. Everyone gave a little bit and everyone gained a little bit. We feel like we have a solid foundation for the future."
The biggest change in the deal is an increase by one in the team's maximum roster size to 12. Teams were severely hampered after rosters were cut from 13 to 11 in 2009 to save money and keep labor peace. Some teams suited up just eight players for games last season due to injuries.
"Although the additional roster spot was the players' primary goal, we expect all of the league's constituencies to benefit from the teams' ability to sign a 12th player," said WNBPA Director of Operations Pamela Wheeler.
Another change is that teams can now offer players a "time off bonus". Teams have up to $50,000 to divide up among players who play less than three months overseas. Those bonuses aren't tied to any sort of offseason team obligations.
"We were very, very mindful that at this point playing overseas is a reality for many of our players," Richie said. "We love the notion of the time off bonus which allows us to offer an incentive to players who may have the interest in limiting their play overseas. It's one of the really terrific things that came out of the negotiations.
"From our standpoint and the players' standpoint it creates incentives to take a little bit of a break. It's good for them and the game."
Other changes include:
—An improved revenue-sharing program for the players.
—The number of times a player can be "cored" was dropped from five to four, shortening the path to unrestricted free agency for star players.
The new agreement allows both sides to opt out after the sixth season. The two sides had agreed in principle to a deal in the middle of February and spent the last few weeks ironing out all the details. The previous contract had expired on Sept. 30.
Free agency will begin on Monday, assuming the Board of Governors approves the CBA on Friday.
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