Springfield, Mass. — Virginia women’s basketball alumna Val Ackerman was inducted as a member of its 2021 class. Ackerman will be inducted as a Contributor. She previously received the Hall of Fame’s John Bunn Award Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.
The announcement was made at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. The Class of 2021 enshrinement ceremony was held the weekend of September 9-10.
“I want to thank David [Stern] most of all for recognizing the importance of women to the future of the game of basketball,” Ackerman said at the conclusion of her induction speech. “My own journey working in the sport has been solitary at times, and as some of you know that strengthened my resolve and my persistence and making sure basketball does right by women at all levels of the game. I hope we can all keep doubling down and make sure that happens.”
Virginia head coach Tina Thompson, a 2018 inductee, was in attendance at the ceremony.
Ackerman graduated from UVA in 1981 with a B.A. in political and social thought. She was a four-year starter, three-time captain and two-time Academic All-American on the Cavaliers’ women’s basketball team. She was also the program’s first 1,000-point scorer and was named to the Atlantic Coast Conference’s 50th Anniversary Team in 2002. In June of 1999, Val Ackerman was inducted into the GTE Academic All-America Hall of Fame. She graduated with high distinction and received the Jettie Hill Award for the highest grade-point average among UVA women athletes. Ackerman played basketball professionally for one year in France before attending law school at UCLA where she earned her degree in 1985.
Ackerman was named the fifth Commissioner of the BIG EAST on June 26, 2013. She was the founding President of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and is a past President of USA Basketball, which oversees the U.S. men’s and women’s Olympic basketball program. Ackerman also served for two terms as the U.S. representative to the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). She has had a long and accomplished career in the sports industry and the distinction of serving in leadership positions in both men’s and women’s basketball at the collegiate, professional, national team and international levels.
Ackerman was named the first President of the WNBA in 1996 and oversaw the league’s day-to-day operations for its first eight seasons. During her tenure, the league expanded from 8 to 16 teams, drew broad national sponsor and network support, established women’s team sports attendance records and maintained successful player labor relations. Ackerman was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011 and received the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Billie Jean King Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016.
Ackerman served on the USA Basketball Board of Directors for 23 years, including as President for the 2005-08 term, which culminated with gold medals for the men’s and women’s teams at the Beijing Games. She served as a primary NBA liaison to USAB in the early years of the “Dream Team” era and was the driving force behind the 10-month tour of the USAB women’s national team that preceded the 1996 Olympics and set the stage for the launch of the WNBA. She received USA Basketball’s Ed Steitz Award for contributions to international basketball in 2008.
Other members of the 2021 class are Rick Adelman, Chris Bosh, Yolanda Griffith, Lauren Jackson, Paul Pierce, Bill Russell, Ben Wallace, Chris Webber, Howard Garfinkel, Cotton Fitzsimmons, Clarence “Fats” Jenkins, Toni Kukoc, Bob Dandridge, Jay Wright and Pearl Moore.