Photo: Skadden, Arps

Photo: Skadden, Arps

Michele Roberts, director of the National Basketball Association, will be paid a base salary of 1.2 million. She is the first woman to lead a major sports union in North America. Sounds great, right? However, Roberts’ salary is half of what her predecessor, Billy Hunter, made.

Businessweek reported:

Roberts, 58, said in a telephone interview that her base salary can be bolstered by annual $600,000 bonuses over the life of the four-year contract. The bonus is at the discretion of the union’s nine-member executive committee, which is led by President Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers.

A former trial lawyer and partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, Roberts replaces Billy Hunter, a former federal prosecutor who was fired in February 2013 following an independent review of union business practices. Hunter was being paid $3 million a year at the time of his ouster for putting his own interests ahead of the union.
“I’m guessing they were not prepared to pay $3 million to anyone,” Roberts said, adding that her salary and bonus would put her “in the vicinity” of her compensation at the law firm.

Here’s some good news, Roberts will be making more in her first year than her football and baseball counterparts did. Businessweek wrote, “DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the National Football League Players Association, was paid $1.6 million in 2010, his first full year on the job, according to the union’s labor department filing. The late Michael Weiner made $1 million in 2010, his first full year after replacing Don Fehr, who now leads the National Hockey League Players Association. Because the NHLPA is based in Toronto, salary figures for its executives aren’t available.”

It’s awesome that a woman is at the helm, but one can’t help but find the salary gap troubling as it’s a representation of what happens for many working women.

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