WNBA

Mark Davis: ‘Nothing wrong’ with Aces sponsorship that sparked WNBA probe, points to Caitlin Clark shoe deal

Mark Davis: 'Nothing wrong' with Aces sponsorship that sparked WNBA probe, points to Caitlin Clark shoe deal

Las Vegas Aces owner Mark Davis says that "there was absolutely nothing done wrong" in a $1.2 million sponsorship deal for his players that reportedly sparked a WNBA investigation into the franchise.

Davis made his comments to CBS Sports' Jonathan Jones on Wednesday from NFL spring meetings in Nashville. Davis is also the owner of the NFL's Las Vegas Raiders.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced Friday that it is sponsoring all 12 of the Aces' players with $100,000 deals. The LVCVA announced the sponsorships in a video featuring president and CEO Steve Hill speaking with Aces players in their locker room.

"The offer's really simple," Hill said. "We want you to just play. We want you to keep repping Las Vegas, and if you do a three-peat, that will be icing on the cake. That's it."

According to multiple reports, the WNBA is now investigating the sponsorships. The WNBA has a hard salary cap of $1.46 million that the sponsorship deal almost matches. The $100,000 individual sponsorship deals exceed the salaries of half the team's players and require them only to play basketball.

Mark Davis wants to know why there’s a problem with $100K sponsorships for Aces players while Caitlin Clark reportedly has an eight-figure deal with Nike. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Per Callie Lawson-Freeman of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the LVCVA organized the sponsorships directly with the players' agents and actively avoided coordinating with the team to keep from violating the WNBA's salary cap rules. Hill told the Review-Journal that the LVCVA has "100-plus influencers that we pay on a regular basis" to promote the city.

Davis defended the deals in his comments to CBS Sports.

"There was absolutely nothing done wrong," Davis said. "And I think it's sad that they used the word investigation instead of something a little softer to say, 'Hey we might look into it' or whatever. But they're going to find there's nothing wrong."

He then suggested a double standard while pointing to a reported eight-figure sponsorship deal for Indiana Fever rookie Caitlin Clark with Nike.

"Nike is an owner of the WNBA, and they're allowed to sponsor Caitlin Clark for $28 million on one player," Davis continued. "And nobody's complaining or investigating.

"And I think it's great that Nike's doing that. But let's give credit to where credit's due: Las Vegas Convention Authority is stepping up and recognizing these women."

Davis also advocated for more financial opportunities for all WNBA players.

"If in fact we can get them hundreds of thousands of dollars or get into the millions of dollars for all the players, they can stay in the community," Davis said. "They don't have to go overseas to play. They'll have the resources to stay to work in the community, work with young kids and all of that."

This is the second time in two years that the WNBA has investigated the Aces. The league determined last year that the Aces promised "impermissible benefits" to former player Dearica Hamby after Hamby accused the Aces of trading her because she was pregnant.

"I was promised things to entice me to sign my contract extension that were not followed through on," Hamby said as part of her complaint on Instagram.

The WNBA suspended head coach Becky Hammon for two games and rescinded a 2025 draft pick at the conclusion of two separate investigations that determined that the team offered Hamby "impermissible benefits" and violated the league's Respect in the Workplace policies with comments about her pregnancy.

The Aces are off to a 2-1 start in their quest for three consecutive WNBA championships.

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