WNBA LA Sparks’ star Riquna Williams suspended 10 games for domestic violence incident

Riquna Williams

Riquna Williams of the Los Angeles Sparks has been suspended without pay for 10 games as a result of a domestic violence incident.

Williams was arrested on April 29, 2019, and charged with two felony counts, one involving the assault of an individual with whom she was in a relationship and the other involving the threatening of another person with a firearm. Her criminal case is ongoing.

On Wednesday, WNBPA executive director Terri Jackson announced that her union would challenge the suspension through the collectively bargained grievance process. The WNBPA’s decision reflects not only a desire to protect Williams but also recognition of the importance of precedent. Unions are often inclined to contest “record-setting” employee punishments. 

Left unchallenged, such punishments sometimes set new standards for disciplining employees. That’s not to say the WNBPA doesn’t support Williams. However, WNBPA leadership likely views the Williams matter as a controversy that impacts other WNBA players and future WNBA players as much as Williams.

The WNBA conducted its internal investigation into this matter, including interviews of Williams and several witnesses. The WNBA also consulted with a panel of experts in the field of domestic violence, upon whom the league relies in connection with such matters.

Based on the investigation, consultation, and a careful weighing of all the facts and circumstances, the WNBA determined that a 10-game suspension was appropriate. Among other factors, the WNBA took into account the nature and seriousness of the conduct at issue, including the involvement of a firearm.

The WNBA will also require Williams to participate in counselling. These latest developments ensure that the topic of domestic violence will remain at the forefront for the WNBA and its new commissioner, Cathy Engelbert.

The WNBA and WNBPA will negotiate a new CBA as the current one is set to expire after the 2019 season concludes. It is a safe bet that the two sides will attempt to negotiate a domestic violence policy in a new CBA. The story is developing and we will keep you informed with any news.

Williams’ suspension began on Thursday nights game against the Dallas Wings. 

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