How Did I Get Here?

Val Ackerman

Commissioner, Big East Conference
  • Education
  • Hopewell Valley Central High School, Pennington, N.J., class of 1977
  • University of Virginia, Charlottesville, class of 1981
  • UCLA School of Law, class of 1985
  • Work Experience
  • 1981
    Professional basketball player, Union Cosnoise Sportive Basket, France
  • 1985–87
    Corporate and banking associate, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett
  • 1988–96
    Staff attorney, vice president for business affairs, NBA
  • 1996–2005
    President, WNBA
  • 2005–08
    President, USA Basketball
  • 2008–13
    Columnist, espnW; consultant, NCAA
  • 2013–Present
    Commissioner, Big East Conference
  • Life Lessons
  • “Ninety percent of life is about showing up.”
  • “No matter how much you want it, there’s always someone who wants it more.”
  • “I was salutatorian and had 10 varsity letters, in field hockey, basketball, and outdoor track.”
  • Tossing the ceremonial ball at the inaugural WNBA game, 1997
  • “I worked on the 1992 Dream Team—Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Patrick Ewing—probably the finest basketball team ever put together.”
  • With George W. Bush at the Olympics, 2008
    “Leaving [the WNBA] was hard, but I wanted to spend more time with my daughters. The experience culminated with gold medals for both men and women at the Beijing Olympics.”
  • Presenting the Big East championship trophy to Providence coach Ed Cooley, 2014
  • Playing small forward for UVA, 1978
    “In my first year, I split the one and only scholarship for women’s basketball. This was five years after Title IX.”
  • “I learned a little French, got to see the world, earned a little money. I’d do it over again in a heartbeat.”
  • “It was the job of a lifetime. The first year, we projected average crowds of 3,000, and they were closer to 10,000. And the players were such appealing role models.”
  • “Seven schools pulled out of the old Big East league and started their own. It was 100 percent a startup: new staff, office, website. We now represent more than 3,000 student athletes in 22 sports.”
  • With Margo Dydek at the WNBA draft, 1998