Why did the WNBA investigate Las Vegas Aces? Closer look at $100,000 sponsorship

Why did the WNBA investigate Las Vegas Aces? Closer look at $100,000 sponsorship
Why did the WNBA investigate Las Vegas Aces? Closer look at $100,000 sponsorship

The two-time WNBA champions Las Vegas Aces are the subject of an investigation by the league after it was reported that their players received $100,000 sponsorship deals from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

The deal, which was supposed to be announced during the game against the LA Sparks on Saturday, has the players agreeing to making appearances on behalf of Las Vegas and wearing gear to help promote the city.

The city tourism authority talked directly to the players and their agents, saying that they didn't see the need to talk to the WNBA, as signing players to sponsorships is a common occurence in the sport.

While the deal is believed to not have violated the WNBA salary cap rules, the league still decided to conduct a probe for possible red flags.

Currently the WNBA salary cap is $1.4 million, while the deals the Aces players have with the LVCVA sum up to $1.2 million. In explaining its side and the deal, LVCVA president and CEO Steve Hill said (as per The Associated Press):

"We did this the right way. We did something that we think works for Las Vegas and I think great for the players. We did this without the team. It was our idea and any questions they ask they'll find that out."

Las Vegas Aces thrilled to be supported and valued

As expected, Las Vegas Aces players were thrilled to have been offered such a deal by the local tourism authority, especially as the amount involved is higher than some of the players' salaries.

Rookie Kate Martin, who, as per Spotrac, will make $67,249 in her first season, was grateful, sharing by way of CBS News:

"[It's] definitely more than my salary. I'm super thankful ... I wouldn't be getting this crazy bonus if it weren't for how great all of these players have played in the last few years."

Point guard Chelsea Grey, for her part, highlighted the significance of the sponsorship deal, particularly in what they want to accomplish for their careers and the WNBA in general.

The nine-year veteran said:

"They're (Las Vegas) investing in us, and so they put their money where their mouth is. We've done so much for this city and having fun doing it.
"It was a great moment for me and my teammates, of somebody actually putting funds behind, saying that they're supporting, and they want to have our back."

While surprised by the investigation, Las Vegas Aces All-Star forward A'ja Wilson maintained their commitment to playing for the team and the city whether the $100,000 sponsorship deal pushes through or not.

The Las Vegas Aces have won back-to-back WNBA titles and are now 2-0 in the young season after their 89-82 victory over the the LA Sparks on Saturday.

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