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Valerie B. "Val" Ackerman was born on November 7, 1959 in Lakewood, New Jersey[1] but grew up in Pennington, New Jersey, United States. She is an attorney, sports executive, and former basketball player. She is best known for being the first president of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), serving from 1996-2005.

Ackerman graduated in 1977 from Hopewell Valley Central High School in Hopewell Township, Mercer County, New Jersey.[2] Ackerman's 1,755 points set the school's varsity basketball career record for points scored by any basketball player, male or female, and she set the school's career scoring record as a halfback in field hockey, topped off by graduating first in her class. She was inducted into the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 1997.[3]

College years

Ackerman graduated from the University of Virginia in 1981, where she was among the school's first female scholarship athletes. She was a four-year starter, three-time captain and two-time Academic All-American for the women's basketball team. She earned her B.A. in Political and Social Thought. She also earned a law degree from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and worked for two years as an associate at the New York law firm of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.

Career

Ackerman played professional basketball in France for one season. In 1988, she served as a staff attorney for the National Basketball Association and as special assistant to NBA Commissioner David Stern, director of business affairs and vice president of business affairs prior to her appointment to head the WNBA in 1996. Ackerman lives in New York City with her husband and her two daughters.

From 1995-1996, she was a driving force behind the creation of the historic USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team program that culminated with a 60-0 record and the gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

On August 7, 1996, Ackerman was named president of the WNBA. Over the course of her historic term, Ackerman would become the first women ever to successfully launch and operate a women's team sports league for the duration of eight years. On February 1, 2005 Ackerman stepped down, and Donna Orender was named as her successor.

She currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the Board of Directors of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, the National Board of Directors of Girls Incorporated, and the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics. In 2006, Ackerman was named the U.S. delegate to the Central Board of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA).

In May 2005 she became the first female president of USA Basketball for the 2005-2008 term, succeeding Tom Jernstedt from the NCAA, who served from 2000-2004. During her term, she oversaw a restructuring of the USA Basketball Board of Directors and gold medal performances by the men's and women's basketball teams at the Beijing Olympics.[4] In 2008, she received the IOC's Women of Distinction diploma and the John Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

References

  1. ^ http://www.birthdatabase.com/query.php
  2. ^ "Leading the Way in Women's Sports", U.S. 1 Newspaper, October 26, 2005. Accessed August 26, 2007. "Today this 1977 graduate of Pennington's Hopewell Valley Central High School is the president of USA Basketball - the national federation responsible for the selection, training, and fielding of U.S. teams that compete in international basketball competitions, including the Olympics, and for some national competitions."
  3. ^ Hall of Fame, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed August 26, 2008.
  4. ^ Val Ackerman Elected USA Basketball President, USA Basketball press release dated March 22, 2005.
Preceded by
Mark Johnson
Gary Lawrence
Paul McDonald
Greg Meredith
Joan Benoit Samuelson
Dave Stoldt
Silver Anniversary Awards (NCAA)
Class of 2006
Valerie Ackerman
Danny Ainge
Charles Davis
Terry Schroeder
Mike Singletary
Susan Wellington
Succeeded by
Gail Koziara Boudreaux
Ambrose “Rowdy” Gaines
Steve Jordan
Patricia Melton
Ann Woods Smith
William Stetson, M.D.
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