The WNBA has a Brittney Griner security problem.
The WNBA expressed concern about securely transporting Griner throughout the upcoming season with the Phoenix Mercury. This is due to her increasing celebrity status gained through her yearlong prison stint in Russia. President Joe Biden freed her in late 2022 in a controversial prison swap.
The WNBA would need to raise $20 million to fund charter flights for all 12 teams in the League. That’s not possible, according to the league’s commissioner.
“If we could get it sponsored or funded in some way … I’m all ears. I’ve gotten lots of calls over the past year about this since we’ve been back in our 12 markets,” WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert told USA Today. “Then when people price it out, you never hear from them again.”
Another financial problem for Griner is that she, unlike most Americans involved in high-profile prisoner swaps, was never a member of the military. USA Today notes that because of her civilian status, Griner must finance any additional security out of her own pocket.
“Typically, the U.S. government does not provide security for civilians, which means Griner is likely to have to pay for security out of pocket,” the newspaper concluded.