WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said the league will not push co-owner Kelly Loeffler, a junior U.S. senator from Georgia, into selling her stake in the Atlanta Dream.
Several WNBA players have called for Loeffler's removal from the franchise following her comments opposing the league's choice to include Black Lives Matter in its social justice initiatives. Engelbert said the league is aware of other parties interested in potentially purchasing the franchise.
"We're not going to force her to sell her ownership," Engelbert said during an appearance on CNN Thursday. "She is not a current governor, she is not involved in the day-to-day, and we are aware there are interested parties who want to purchase the team.
"We have a board of governors–she has not served as a governor since she became a senator, so since October of 2019."
Loeffler spoke out against the league's decision in a letter to Engelbert early last week and repeated her stance against the Black Lives Matter movement in a July 10 article in The Daily Caller.
"Let me be clear: every single African American life is important and must be valued. We must root out racism, pursue justice and ensure equality for all. But that’s not the objective of the Black Lives Matter political organization. Making the statement that "Black lives matter" and backing the nefarious entity of the same name are two very different things," Loeffler wrote.
"The Black Lives Matter political organization is undeniably radical. This Marxist group proudly advocates for the defunding of police, calls for the removal of Jesus from churches, supports the disruption of the nuclear family structure, harbors anti-Semitic views and actively promotes violence and destruction across the country."
Engelbert, who started as WNBA commissioner in May 2019, added that she was surprised to receive the letter from Loeffler but remains focused on the racial and social causes that matter most to players.
"From the short time I've known her...she's been very supportive of women's issues and women's empowerment, has been very interested in her players and what they stand for," Engelbert said. "So I was surprised to receive it, but as commissioner, I'm committed to making sure that the players' platform–to vigorously advocate for social justice–is what we're dedicating this season to."
The WNBA season is set to tip-off on July 25. Players will wear jerseys featuring the names of women who have died in connection to police brutality and racial violence, including Breonna Taylor and Sandra Bland. Additionally, their warm-up shirts this season will include the messages "Black Lives Matter" and "Say Her Name."