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Around the “W”… What’s Happening in the WNBA

Shock might be leaving Detroit

Detroit ShockCould the Shock’s run in Detroit be coming to an end after 12 seasons and three WNBA titles? A group of investors in Tulsa, Okla., said Thursday it will formally apply to the WNBA to purchase a franchise. Lead investor Bill Cameron said his group, called Tulsa Pro Hoops LLC, expects a decision from the league by the end of October. The goal is to have a team in Tulsa for the 2010 season.

Will Tulsa’s new team be the Shock?

Forrest Cameron (no relation to Bill Cameron), publisher of the Greater Tulsa Reporter newspapers, told the Free Press that Nolan Richardson, the former coach at Arkansas and Tulsa, was involved with a group that is trying to bring the Shock or another team to Tulsa. Bill Cameron and fellow investor David Box have said Richardson would serve as the team’s coach and general manager should Tulsa land a franchise.

Shock coach Rick Mahorn had no comment about the matter Thursday. Shock owner Karen Davidson, general manager Cheryl Reeve and Tom Wilson, president of Palace Sports and Entertainment, did not return calls to the Free Press.

If not the Shock, Tulsa’s new potential team could be the Indiana Fever or Atlanta Dream — franchises that have struggled financially and had been reportedly looking for an ownership change.  Indiana did announce recently that the Fever would stay in Indiana.

The Associated Press reported there was speculation Fever ownership would not keep the team after losing money each season. Then earlier this week, a letter to fans on the Fever’s Web site said the team is looking forward to another great season in 2010 and beyond.

Dream owner Ron Terwilliger told the WNBA in August that he wanted to give up his position of primary owner of the 2-year-old franchise, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. So there is uncertainly whether that team will remain in Atlanta.

The league had set a Sept. 1 deadline for Tulsa to get a franchise by next season, but WNBA president Donna Orender later softened that deadline. Bill Cameron said the investor group didn’t want to make the application “until we felt we were at the point where we could make a credible presentation.” Forrest Cameron said the Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce also is supporting Tulsa’s WNBA effort.

One of the most successful franchise’s in league history, the Shock won three WNBA titles under Bill Laimbeer, now an assistant coach with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and lost in the Eastern Conference finals to the Fever this past season. Detroit won titles in 2003, 2006 and 2008.

Free Press sports writer Perry A. Farrell contributed to this report.


Tulsa group to formally apply for WNBA team

With new supporters on board, a group of investors in Tulsa said Thursday they will formally apply to the WNBA to purchase a franchise.

Lead investor Bill Cameron said his group, called Tulsa Pro Hoops LLC, will exercise its option to buy a WNBA team and expected a decision from the league by the end of October. The goal is to have a team in Tulsa for the 2010 season, Cameron told The Associated Press.

“Obviously we are waiting on pins and needles until they tell us,” Cameron said.

Cameron said Scott and Katie Schofield are the latest investors to join the group, which announced in July that it hoped to gain enough financial support to bring a team to Tulsa in 2010.

The league had set a Sept. 1 deadline for Tulsa to get a franchise by next season, but WNBA president Donna Orender later softened that deadline. Cameron said the investor group didn’t want to make the application “until we felt we were at the point where we could make a credible presentation.”

“We’ve been working hard to get there,” Cameron said. “It’s kind of like you just finished your exams and turned in your mid-term paper. We’ve still got plenty of stuff to do but there is a sense of accomplishment. We feel good about where we are.”

Phone messages left with WNBA spokesman Ron Howard late Thursday weren’t immediately returned.

The Schofields have roots in Oklahoma, with Katie having played basketball at Bishop Kelley High School in Tulsa. She later attended what is now St. Gregory’s University and Oklahoma State University in the 1980s. The couple lives in the Washington, D.C., area.

“I never imagined when I was growing up playing 6-on-6 basketball that something even remotely close to a WNBA team would ever be reality in Oklahoma and that I would be involved in it,” Katie Schofield said.

Last month, Cameron and fellow investor David Box – both Oklahoma City businessmen – announced that former Tulsa and Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson would serve as the WNBA team’s coach and general manager should the city of Tulsa land a franchise.

That announcement “generated a lot of interest in the team” and allowed the investor group “to put a face on the team so that people understand that we are committed to winning with Nolan and we are serious about this,” Cameron said. “It has helped make this more tangible.”

The Tulsa team would play at the downtown BOK Center.

Besides Box, Cameron and the Schofields, the group of investors includes Don and Pat Hardin, Sam and Rita Combs, Pat Chernicky, Stuart and Linda Price and Paula Marshall, all from the Tulsa area.

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