WNBA champion Natasha Cloud is one of the first three players comitted to the new Athletes Unlimited basketball league. (G Fiume/Getty Images)
PLAYERS & TEAM EARNINGS

Athletes Unlimited Announces New Women’s Basketball League

Natasha Cloud, Sydney Colson, and Ty Young are the first three players committed to the athlete-driven league scheduled to debut in January.

Athletes Unlimited is changing the landscape of professional sports one league at a time. And on Tuesday, the organization announced the creation of its fourth league: a professional women’s basketball competition that will make its debut in January.

Washington Mystics guard and WNBA champion Natasha Cloud, seven-year WNBA veteran Sydney Colson, and longtime Chicago Sky forward Ty Young have joined the league as its inaugural signings. The Athletes Unlimited Basketball schedule will not overlap with the WNBA season.

Basketball will join an existing network of next-generation athletic leagues that includes lacrosse, softball, and volleyball. To date, Athletes Unlimited’s professional competitions boast 27 Olympians representing nine different countries.

“Athletes Unlimited has built the highest quality and most successful versions of softball, lacrosse, and volleyball leagues in the United States we have seen to date, and we couldn’t be more excited to apply our innovative model to basketball,” said Athletes Unlimited Co-Founder and CEO Jon Patricof.

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“I am excited to be joining Athletes Unlimited Basketball and to be a member of the player executive committee,” said Cloud, an NBA champion “I have seen first-hand what Athletes Unlimited has done in its other leagues and have loved the high quality, fast pace of play and most importantly how the players have driven the decision-making on and off the court. Now we are going to bring that same energy and format to the sport of basketball.”

Ilene Hauser, a former Nike executive with 15 years of experience in their women’s basketball section, will oversee the operations of the league alongside Kristen Miles, formerly a community relations exec with Monumental Sports and Entertainment.

They’ll be supported by a group of advisors including Thirty Five Ventures Chief Marketing Officer Sarah Flynn and the current Athletes Unlimited Advisory Board that features Abby Wambach, Taylor Rooks, Kevin Durant, Rich Kleiman, and Jessica Mendoza.

“Women’s basketball is a growing game. We have seen significant ratings increases in the WNBA, massive growth in the NCAA, and a burgeoning landscape around the world,” said Patricof. “With the launch of Athletes Unlimited, pro women’s basketball will be played during the winter to coincide with fans’ engagement with the NBA, NCAA, and international basketball, and brings us closer to the year-round access fans have on the men’s side.”