Evie Goldstein Named Women’s NBA Union’s Director

Evie Goldstein, a former attorney at the Major League Baseball Players Association, has been named director of operations for the Women’s NBA union.

Goldstein, who spent six years at the MLBPA as associate general counsel for licensing and sponsorships and was involved in the creation and administration of the inaugural World Baseball Classic, will be in charge of the organization’s day-to-day operations. She will report to Michele Roberts, executive director of the WNBPA and the union that represents NBA players. Roberts is the first woman to lead a major U.S. professional sports union.

“What I’m looking to do is enhance the communication between the players and the union and have the players be more involved,” Goldstein said in a telephone interview, adding that she intends to speak with key agents for input on what opportunities exist and what is lacking.

Prior to her work at the baseball union, Goldstein was vice president for business and legal affairs at Lifetime Television, which in 1997 became one of the first broadcasters of WNBA games.

Goldstein becomes the second director of operations at the WNBPA, which was formed in 1998. She replaces Pam Wheeler.

Labor Contract

Collective bargaining isn’t an immediate concern for WNBA players. The league and union in 2014 signed an eight-year labor contract that expires after the 2021 season. Either side can terminate the collective bargaining agreement after six seasons, giving Goldstein enough time to focus on generating revenue for not only the league’s marquee names but the rank-and-file, too.

“In a union, in an ideal world, you hope to be able to create some group licensing that is helpful to all players,” said Goldstein, adding that while at the baseball union she helped to repair the relationship between league and players association officials.

“When you’re talking about licensing, it helps everybody if there’s a trust between the commercial people on the league side and the commercial people on the union side,” she said.

WNBA President Laurel Richie in a telephone interview said she looks forward to meeting and working with Goldstein, whose agenda “sounds terrific,” she said.

“My experience to date, in my four years, is that we have worked very well with both the players and the players association,” Richie said. “The union exists for the players. They should take an active role in setting the agenda.”

Richie said her focus is on the game. “When we do that, terrific things fall from that,” she said.

The WNBA will have to do without one of its best players next season.

Goldstein joins the union a week after Diana Taurasi of the Phoenix Mercury, the 2009 league Most Valuable Player, said she would sit out the 2015 season after accepting an offer from her Russian team to rest. Taurasi, 32, is paid about $1.5 million to play in Russia. She’s paid about $107,000 by the Mercury.

Goldstein said she hasn’t spoken to Taurasi or her agent.

“It seems it was a prudent and quite understandable determination by her with regard to her body and her health and her ability to play year-round,” she said. “While she’ll be missed, I’m looking forward to her return in 2016.”

(Corrects to remove reference to Pam Wheeler as first woman to lead major U.S. sports union in fifth paragraph.)
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