5817_isi_duffyamanda_nwslbs012117412 Brad Smith/isiphotos.com
National Women's Soccer League

Amanda Duffy Addresses NWSL Present and Future

The league's managing director discussed a variety of topics Saturday afternoon, including efforts to keep Mallory Pugh in the NWSL, expansion, and the search for a commissioner.
BY John D. Halloran Posted
May 08, 2017
4:00 PM

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill.—Amanda Duffy, the managing director of the National Women's Soccer League, spoke to the media at halftime of the Chicago Red Stars-Houston Dash match on Saturday afternoon. She offered her thoughts on a number of issues, including Mallory Pugh, possible expansion, improving standards throughout the league, and the search for a new commissioner. Here is an edited collection of comments.

On whether the league will step in to make a deal to keep Mallory Pugh from heading overseas:
"We all want Mallory Pugh to play in the league. We're working through that and U.S. Soccer is leading the conversation from Mallory Pugh's end. Ultimately, everyone does agree that the best thing for everyone is that she's in NWSL. We're going to do all that we can to make that happen."

On increasing standards in the league and how the new United States women's national team collective bargaining agreement has affected those standards:
"There are U.S. Soccer pro league standards. There are also some standards that have come through that appear to be have been generated through the CBA negotiations. But as a whole, as a professional league, there is a minimum expectation of how we want to operate, the resources that we want to provide, and the perception of what the league is as a professional league. We don't want that word to be used loosely. There is an investment that has to be made to qualify [NWSL] as a professional league, but all of it is over time. The standards, some of them are effective immediately, and some of those are over the course of the next two to four years that they would need to be implemented. All are certainly in line with the growth of the league and expectations that we have to present a professional league for the owners, for the players, and for the fans that support the league."

On whether the league has implemented an NFL-style Rooney Rule requiring teams to interview women and minorities for open positions:
"We don't have a formal policy right now, but that is something that's front of mind for the league and for all of the teams to ensure ways and a pathway for women to continue to be involved. Whether it's administratively, whether it's in coaching, [we want to ensure] that there are opportunities and more ways to have them a part of the process and that the opportunities within the organization—whether that is the league, or on the team side, in the office, or on the field—that we continue to grow that pool of women who are working in soccer and in sports."

On the stability of the NWSL at the beginning of its fifth season:
"We have season five kicked off right now. We're in a really healthy place in terms of having stability, having a number of years behind us. We've also launched the new partnership with Lifetime, we've launched NWSL Media, and that really is going to help us accelerate our growth, not just in a stabilizing phase, but into a growth phase for what we want to do as a league. We're in a really good place and excited about what's ahead for NWSL."

On her vision for the league:
"In the first five years it's about getting to season three, four, five—and we've done that. All of the [original] teams are still a part of it, bar the transfer of Western New York to North Carolina. Now that have this new partnership [with Lifetime] and a marketing/commercial arm, there is going to be a focus on growth. We're a TV league and we need to continue to develop and, from a business standpoint, also look at expansion and how that helps the league overall continue to grow in a smart way that doesn't dilute the player pool, or dilute any of the talent on or off the field."

More on expansion:
"Comfortably, we'd like to look at two additional teams coming into the league, [that's] the next phase of this. We can do that now in our situation and, with the [TV] partnership, we can do that making sure that we bring the right owners in. It's not a rush to expand just to expand. It's doing so in a way that's going to build this league for the long-term viability of it."

On the search for a new league commissioner: 
"It's an ongoing search right now."

John D. Halloran is an American Soccer Now columnist. Follow him on Twitter.

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