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CHARLOTTESVILLE Val Ackerman, a two-time Academic All-American forward at Virginia, current President of USA Basketball and former and founding President of the WNBA, will receive the 2008 John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame during enshrinement festivities Sept. 4-6 in Springfield, Mass.

The Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award was instituted by the Board of Trustees of the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1973 and is the most prestigious award presented by the Hall of Fame outside of Enshrinement. Named in honor of Hall of Famer John W. Bunn (Class of 1964), the first chairman of the Basketball Hall of Fame Committee who served from 1949-1964, this award honors coaches, players and contributors whose outstanding accomplishments have impacted the high school, college, professional or international game.

“Val’s contributions to the growth and development of the game of basketball on all levels embodies the true spirit of this lifetime achievement award. Her service and visionary work span her career, from early roles within the NBA legal department to her groundbreaking work in launching the WNBA to her appointment as the first female President of USA Basketball”, stated John L. Doleva, Hall of Fame President & CEO. “Val is held with the highest regard among her peers as an attorney, sports executive and former player. Her forward thinking approach gives confidence to the basketball community that the game’s potential will continue to grow and evolve.”

“This is a tremendous and very unexpected honor, and I’m deeply grateful to the Hall of Fame for the recognition”, said Ackerman upon receiving the news. “It has been a privilege for me to work in basketball and to witness many of the exciting developments in our game over the past 20 years, especially in women’s basketball, which I know will only continue to grow in popularity in the years to come.”

Ackerman’s relationship with the game began at an early stage when she graduated from Hopewell Valley Central High School in Mercer County, New Jersey in 1977. Ackerman went on to play at the University of Virginia, where she was a four-year starter for the women’s basketball team and a two-time Academic All-American as she earned a degree in political and social thought in 1981. After college, Ackerman extended her basketball playing resume at the professional level for one season in France. She also earned a law degree from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1985, and worked for two years as an associate at the New York law firm of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.

In 1988, she served as a staff attorney for the National Basketball Association and as special assistant to NBA Commissioner David Stern. From 1995-1996, she was the driving force behind the historic USA Basketball Women’s Senior National Team program that culminated with a 60-0 record and the gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Her NBA positions of Director, and later Vice President of Business Affairs led to her appointment to head the WNBA on August 7, 1996.

As President of the WNBA, Ackerman was the first woman to successfully launch a women’s team-oriented sports league and guided the league for its first eight seasons. The WNBA has seen significant growth since its inception, as it ranks today as the leading women’s professional basketball league in the world with 14 teams, players from around the world, extensive television coverage, sponsor and marketing partnerships growth and a loyal fan base.

In May 2005 she became the first female president of USA Basketball for the 2005-2008 term, leading the organization through its preparations for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and a recently-announced restructuring of the USA Basketball Board of Directors. She also serves as the U.S. representative to the Central Board of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). She currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the National Board of Directors of Girls Incorporated, and the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.

Ackerman will be honored during the Hall of Fame’s annual Reunion Reception, occurring at the Springfield Marriott Hotel on Thursday, Sept. 4. The event, which also features award recipients of the Curt Gowdy Award, given to exemplary members of the media, tips off the 2008 Hall of Fame Enshrinement Weekend. Tickets are still available for the 2008 Enshrinement Induction Celebration, taking place on Saturday, September 6th at Mohegan Sun Resort. Call 413.231.5512 to purchase. Additional Enshrinement Weekend information can also be found at

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