When U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati announced the start of a new eight-team women’s professional soccer league, he conceded most of the details were still being worked out. Markets, scheduling, and some particulars on player funding and allocation were discussed, but most of the nitty-gritty about how the thing would be run was left unaddressed. The league didn’t even have a name.
But as of yesterday, we at least have one name to put to the league. Cheryl Bailey, who had previously served as general manager of the U.S. Women’s National Team, was named the league’s executive director.
Bailey served as General Manager of the U.S. Women’s National Team for five years from 2007 through 2011. A long-time athletics administrator who led the support staff for the U.S. team during the 2007 and 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cups and the 2008 Olympics, she was in charge of all areas of Women’s National Team administration including team travel, payroll, liaising with clubs, and working with FIFA, CONCACAF and other Federations.
“Cheryl was a highly regarded employee for U.S. Soccer during her time with the Women’s National Team and she has the perfect skill set and experience to help get this league up and running,” said Gulati. “Cheryl was one of the many pioneers for intercollegiate women’s athletics and was immersed in the inner works of elite women’s soccer for five years. We’re excited to have her on board.”
“It was a wonderful experience to be a part of the Women’s National Team for five years and see first-hand the impact that women’s soccer players can have as role models,” said Bailey. “The new league is another extension of that and a vitally important part of the continued growth of the sport in the United States. I am dedicated to ensuring that this league is set up with the best possible business model that emphasizes sustainability above all else while giving players a competitive environment in which to play and creating something special for young girls to aspire to.”
What else do we know about Bailey? Parsing through U.S. Soccer’s statement:
- She is the former Athletic Director at Denison University (Ohio).
- There she served as an assistant professor, teaching History of Sports, Psychology/Sociology of Sports, Ethics of Sports, Lifetime skills & Activity Classes.
- She also served as Senior Associate Athletic Director and the Senior Woman Administrator at the University of Wisconsin for 15 years.
- She had stints as the chairs of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee and the Women’s Soccer Committee.
Now we know who’ll run the dang thang. Next up, a name (unless “dang thang” works for you).