Val Ackerman has spent more than 20 years as an executive in the sport of basketball. She served as the founding president of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) from 1996-2005 and president of USA Basketball from 2005-08. She is currently an adjunct professor in sports management at Columbia University and serves as the U.S. representative to the international basketball federation (FIBA).
Named WNBA President on August 7, 1996, Ackerman presided over the first WNBA game on June 21, 1997, when the league debuted with eight teams. The launch of the WNBA and its development into the preeminent women’s team sport organization earned Ackerman accolades across the sports landscape. The league, which currently features 12 teams, averaged more than 9,300 fans per game during Ackerman’s eight-year tenure.
Ackerman joined the NBA in 1988 as a staff attorney and later served as special assistant to NBA Commissioner David Stern and NBA vice president of business affairs. She is currently a member of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletic and serves on the boards of USA Basketball, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and the Virginia Athletics Foundation. She is also a member of the ESPNW advisory panel.
A 1981 graduate of the University of Virginia, Ackerman was a four-year starter, three-year captain and two-time Academic All-America player for the women’s basketball team. She played professional basketball in France before graduating from the UCLA School of Law in 1985. She is married to Charlie Rappaport and has two daughters, Emily and Sally.