WNBA suspends Becky Hammon after allegations of bullying pregnant player

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Las Vegas Aces coach Becky Hammon was suspended two games without pay after an investigation into allegations a player was bullied for being pregnant. The team also lost a 2025 first-round draft pick for violating league rules regarding player benefits, the WNBA announced Tuesday.

The rulings were made after a monthslong investigation into the team stemming from comments made to former Las Vegas forward Dearica Hamby about her pregnancy. The team lost it’s 2025 first-round pick since the Aces do not have a 2024 first-rounder due to a prior trade.

‘The Aces failed to adhere to league rules and regulations and have been disciplined accordingly.  We are also disheartened by the violation of our Respect in the Workplace policies and remain committed to ensuring that enhanced training is conducted and standards are followed across all WNBA teams,’ WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement.

Becky Hammon made comments to Dearica Hamby, WNBA says

Hammon’s suspension comes after forward Dearica Hamby said in January she was ‘bullied’ and ‘manipulated’ by the Las Vegas Aces after she got pregnant with her second child. The two-time all-star, who was drafted by the franchise in 2015 when it was the San Antonio Stars, signed a multi-year contract extension with the Aces in June prior to the team winning its first WNBA title in September.

After the Aces’ title, Hamby said she was expecting her second child and the team claimed she ‘didn’t hold up my end of the bargain’ due to her pregnancy. Hamby and a 2024 first-round pick were traded to the Los Angeles Sparks for a 2024 second-round pick and the negotiating rights to forward Amanda Zahui B in January.

The league said after Hamby’s comments, it conducted an investigation, including interviews with 33 people and ‘a review of numerous texts, emails and other documents.’ The WNBA said a violation occurred when Hammon made comments to Hamby in relation to her pregnancy.

Las Vegas Aces impermissible player benefits

The Aces violation included promises of impermissible benefits in connection with negotiations with Hamby for a contract extension, the WNBA said.

During its investigation into Hamby’s comments, the league said several individuals raised concerns regarding the Aces’ conduct during the free agency period. The WNBA previously said it was looking into the franchise after allegations of the team paying players under the table, which surfaced after the team signed two-time league MVP Candace Parker and forward Alysha Clark.

The league said its investigation was ‘not able to substantiate any of those additional concerns.’

‘It is critical that we uphold the values of integrity and fairness, which create a level playing field for our teams,’ Engelbert said.

WNBAPA: Decision ‘misses the mark’

The WNBA Players Association said the league had an opportunity ‘to send a clear message’ it abides by the collective bargaining agreement, but the decision ‘misses the mark’ and the penalty wasn’t appropriate based on recent league rulings.

‘Where in this decision does this team or any other team across the league learn the lesson that respect in the workplace is the highest standard and a player’s dignity cannot be manipulated,’ the WNBAPA said. ‘While taking away a future draft pick is significant and has never been done in the league’s history, it penalizes a future player by removing an opportunity to compete for a job.’

Aces stand by Hammon

The Aces said in a statement it is ‘deeply disappointed’ in the disciplinary actions from the WNBA, disputing Hammon’s actions and allegations the team paid players ‘under the table.’

‘The WNBA’s determinations about Becky Hammon are inconsistent with what we know and love about her. Becky is a caring human being who forges close personal relationship with her players. We stand by Coach Hammon as she continues to lead the Las Vegas Aces,’ the team said. ‘We look forward to continuing to support our players, coaches, employees and the Las Vegas community.’

 The Las Vegas Aces will begin their title defense Saturday, opening the regular season against the Seattle Storm.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY