Las Vegas Aces Investgation: Defending champs in trouble with report suggesting team influenced $1.2 million deal

WNBA: Playoffs-Dallas Wings at Las Vegas Aces
The LV Aces are currently under investigation by the WNBA. (Getty)

Reigning WNBA champions, the Las Vegas Aces, are currently under investigation by the league over claims that the organization may have influenced a $1.2 million deal that their players have signed with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA).

The investigation itself came as a result of a disjoint between recent comments made by Steve Hill, president and CEO of the LVCVA, and Aces head coach Becky Hammon.

Hill had claimed that the deal effectively pays players for staying and representing the Aces in Las Vegas all year round. Currently, several players in the organization have international commitments, which means that they play for other teams during the WNBA offseason.

However, the new deal with LVCVA was intended to allow Las Vegas Aces stars to represent their organization all year round, in Hill’s own words:

“The offer is really simple. We want you to just play, keep repping Las Vegas. And if you get a three-peat, that will be icing on the cake.”

The above statement was part of a clip that made rounds on social media, and was delivered straight to the players in the Las Vegas Aces' locker room. Hill later explained the following (per theixsports):

“The rep Vegas part is where the deliverables are, right? I’ll tell you what we met by ‘just play’. And that was not off the cuff for me. The message there is, we want these ladies to have the opportunity to be able to make a choice for themselves that is not driven by I gotta go to Europe to play in the offseason."
"We want them to stay in town. We want them to rep Vegas year round. And many of them don’t have that option. And so we wanted to lift that burden and give them the option for staying in town. Just play stay in town, rep Vegas,” Hill added.

Further, according to Hill, the Aces informed his organization that they will first have to agree to a $250,000 deal with the WNBA franchise itself, for the use of their logo and other assets.

This not only infringes the WNBA’s collective bargaining agreement. It also directly contradicts recent statements made by the Las Vegas Aces’ head coach and has prompted an investigation by the WNBA, who have hired the Kobe and Kim law firm to get to the bottom of the matter.

Steve Hill’s comments directly contradict Las Vegas Aces coach Becky Hammon’s recent claims

Hill later confirmed that the LVCVA indeed has a deal with the Las Vegas Aces, and is paying $250,000 to the organization to use their assets:

“Because a $250,000 sponsorship to the Aces, and to Mark, really doesn’t matter.”

He also claimed that Hammon’s recent statement, which suggested that her team has nothing to do with the overall $1.2 million deal between the organization and their players, is false. The Las Vegas Aces head coach had claimed the following:

“The Aces have nothing to do with it.”

Hence, as things stand, if the Las Vegas Aces have been involved in the facilitation of the deal, let alone the alleged $250,000 arrangement that Hill states has already been made, there is plenty of scope for trouble. Under the CBA, this would constitute the facilitation of certain marketing agreements whose value exceeds what the team is allowed to offer its players.

Hence, effectively, the allegation is that the team influenced the deal between its players and the LVCVA, to ensure that they are paid more than what the collective bargaining agreement stipulates with respect to WNBA salaries.

Conversely, the Aces may have simply signed a deal with the LVCVA, which has also signed a separate deal with its players in a deal completely independent of their $250,000 agreement with the Aces.

Hence, while there is little clarity over which direction the investigation might head towards, the 2023 WNBA champions find themselves on delicate ground, and will need to prove that their own arrangement with the LVCVA did not influence the deal it signed with Aces’ players.

Edited by nagpaltusharn25
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