By Kate Raddatz

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Professional female basketball players could soon see a massive pay increase.

The WNBA and its union announced a tentative 8-year deal Tuesday that will allow top players to earn more than half a million dollars. The average compensation would also surpass six figures for the first time ever.

The proposed contract would pay players an average of $130 thousand a year. Top earners could be paid more than triple their salary from last season.

“I think it’s so exciting, the women have been deserving this for many years,” Carolyn Arnebeck said.

Carolyn Arnebeck is an activities coordinator at the Academy of Holy Angels and a former college basketball player. She says she’s had conversations with students and her own daughter about the pay gap between male and female athletes.

“I know a lot of women who didn’t even have this as a dream because the pay was so low so now these young girls can reach their goals, maybe even becoming a WNBA player,” Arnebeck said.

The WNBA union president said the deal would be an incentive to get players to stay in the offseason, rather than go play oversees where players aren’t able to rest and may get injured.

In addition to pay, the contract works to improve the players’ quality of life, offering a fully paid maternity leave, better mental health benefits and dedicated spaces for nursing mothers in arenas.

The deal would also guarantee players get their own hotel rooms on road trips, a $5,000 childcare stipend, and offseason job opportunities to prepare for life after basketball.

Kate Raddatz