Caitlin Clark’s WNBA Leap Set To Pay Off, Lift Women’s Sports

April 17, 2024 – Media Mention

Irwin Kishner, co-chair of Herrick's Sports Law Group, was quoted in Law360 in an article discussing Caitlin Clark's leap to the WNBA and how her ascension is lifting up all of women's sports. 

Clark, the leading scorer in NCAA basketball history, recently forwent her final year of college eligibility at Iowa to enter the WNBA draft. While some speculated that this would lead to a drop in pay, the article notes that "on the contrary... conditions are ripe for Clark ... and her soon-to-be fellow pro players to capitalize on the growth already underway as well as what she's expected to create."

As Clark officially enters the WNBA, player salaries and endorsement opportunities have increased and "are positioned to leap again in the next two years if current trends continue and if the collective bargaining agreement with the players association is reopened, as expected." At the same time, the opportunities for college athletes to receive compensation for their name, image and likeness (NIL) has also grown since the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision in NCAA v. Alston that created the foundation for NIL compensation. 

Irwin described Clark's "impeccable timing." He noted that "if Clark were a male basketball player, she would have had the option to go pro after one college season — an option WNBA players do not have. But the advent of NIL early in her college career kept her from taking a financial hit."

"The fact that she did what she did and gained so, so much notoriety, there was a carry forward for her, a whiplash effect," Irwin said.

Read the full article in Law360 here. Access may require a subscription.