Pamela Wheeler is a woman of firsts. She was the first woman appointed to lead a professional sports union, was the founding Director of the Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA) and negotiated the first collective bargaining agreement in women’s professional sports.
As founding Director, Ms. Wheeler created the organizational infrastructure of the WNBPA and was responsible for improving the lives of professional women basketball players both on and off the court. Whether through collective bargaining, establishing programs for players or developing alternative income sources, she consistently implemented strategies that resulted in significant advances for WNBA players. She successfully led multiple CBA negotiations, culminating in the establishment of (i) minimum salary increases of 75% for rookies and 100% for veterans; (ii) year-round medical, maternity and retirement benefits; (iii) a landmark system of free agency; (iv) player controlled group license marketing rights; (v) player revenue sharing and (vi) a flexible salary cap system. Under her leadership player benefits, salaries and resources increased by 300% from 1998 to 2014.
In addition, Ms. Wheeler consistently worked to enhance the working conditions and social welfare of WNBA players both during and after their playing careers. To that end, she implemented and administered a myriad of Association and joint labor/management programs, including anti-drug, graduate school tuition reimbursement, career assessments & apprenticeships, financial planning and Rookie orientation.
Prior to the WNBPA, Ms. Wheeler was the Director of Business Development for the Continental Basketball Association, where she finalized stalled negotiations with New Line Cinema to create a national branding platform based on merging sports and entertainment. Before that, she served as General Counsel & Marketing Manager at Bob Woolf Associates, creating sports and entertainment marketing programs for institutional clients and negotiating marketing agreements for athletes.
She has been profiled in a number of traditional and sports publications, including the Sports Business Journal, “Game Changer,” Sports Illustrated, 101 Most Influential Minorities in Sports, Black Enterprise, 50 Most Powerful Blacks in Sports and Essence Magazine, Powerful African American Women.
- J.D., Boston University
- B.A., Dartmouth College
- Spring 2021: Leadership & Personnel Management in Sports
In the News
For Women's History Month, SPS Faculty Share Advice for Women in their Fields
What career advice would you give to women in your field, or women hoping to break into your field?