Ex-WNBA president first female to lead Olympic hoops


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Val Ackerman, founding
president of the WNBA, became the first female president of USA
Basketball on Tuesday.

The announcement was made Tuesday by the USA Basketball Board of

Ackerman resigned as WNBA president, effective last month.

An attorney and former college and pro player, Ackerman succeeds
NCAA executive vice president Tom Jernstedt as USA Basketball
president through 2008.

"I am honored and excited to assume this position," Ackerman
said. "I look forward to working with the USA Basketball Board
of Directors and staff to build on the longstanding success of
the organization's competitive programs and to find new ways to
continue the growth of the game of basketball."

Ackerman was the driving force behind the creation of the
historic 1995-96 USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team
program that culminated with a 60-0 record and the gold medal at
the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Ackerman was entrusted with the guardianship of the WNBA, which
was conceived by NBA commissioner David Stern and fellow league
executives in 1996.

During Ackerman's tenure, the WNBA grew from eight to 16 teams
before contracting to its current 13; ran the rival ABL out of
business; built corporate partnerships with product giants such
as Coca-Cola; and gave girls everywhere the same dreams as boys
of playing pro sports.

The WNBA has games televised nationally on ABC, ESPN2 and
Oxygen. With strong support in New York and Los Angeles and
growing interest in Detroit and Seattle, the league has averaged
9,300 fans per game over eight seasons.