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WNBA Considered Terminating Liberty After Airplane Scandal

The WNBA considered terminating one of its teams, the Liberty, for violating the league’s collective bargaining agreement, per a Sports Illustrated report by Howard Megdal. The crime? The Liberty's owners charted flights for its players. 

Liberty owners Joe and Clara Wu Tsai paid for charter flights both during a Labor Day weekend to Napa and the second half of the 2021 season. The WNBA’s current collective bargaining agreement doesn't allow for such travel accommodations as it is deemed an unfair competitive advantage. 

When the league learned of the violations, Jamin Dershowitz, the WNBA’s general counsel, considered possible punishments. This included stripping the team of “every draft pick you have ever seen” to suspending ownership and even “grounds for termination of the franchise,” according to a Sept. 21, 2021, communication between the league and the Liberty reviewed by SI.

The organization was fined $500,000, the most in WNBA history. It was originally a $1 million fine but was reduced after an appeal. 

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