Player’s union issues statement on possible appeal of Griner-Johnson suspensions, WNBA prez is “firm” on decision

The Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA) issued a statement regarding the seven-game suspension handed down to Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner and Tulsa Shock forward Glory Johnson after the two were arrested in a domestic violence incident last month. Griner has indicated that she will not appeal the suspension while Johnson has said she plans to challenge the league’s decision.

The  two were arrested at their home in Goodyear, Ariz., on April 22, 2015, on identical misdemeanor charges of assault and disorderly conduct just a two and a half weeks before they were married.

Griner pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct and entered a diversion program.  The assault charge was dismissed.  She must complete a 26-week domestic violence course and meet other conditions to have the disorderly conduct charge dismissed.  Johnson’s case was transferred to county court. She told Tulsa World this week that her charges were dropped.

“We knew there were gonna be consequences, but (a seven-game suspension) is a little much,” said Johnson to the newspaper.

League president Laurel Richie told the Chicago Tribune in a telephone interview Friday that she is “quite firm” about the suspension.

“The issue of domestic violence is one that we as a league take very, very seriously,” she said. “And the process and investigation was thorough and thoughtful and deliberate. I am completely comfortable with where we ended up and quite firm in where we ended up.”

The WNBPA’s statement:

There has been some speculation, which I wish to put to rest, as to whether the WNBPA plans to appeal the seven game suspensions issued by the WNBA to Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson as the result of a domestic incident that took place at their home in Goodyear, Arizona on April 22, 2015.

There is a significant segment of WNBA players who feel that, while a suspension may have been warranted, a suspension of seven games (20% of the season) is excessive and inappropriate for each player in these circumstances. As the union representing all WNBA players, for whom this suspension, left unchallenged, would have precedential effect, we feel there are sufficient grounds for an appeal challenging the length of these suspensions, including the fact this was a first time incident for both players, the current legal status of this matter, prior precedents in this and other sports leagues, and the significant economic impact suspensions of this length yield in the WNBA. Under the collective bargaining agreement, however, the union cannot appeal without the approval of the player who received the discipline.

We are still in discussions with Glory, Brittney and their representatives to determine how they wish to proceed in light of their own personal situations and the concerns of other WNBA players.

–Evie Goldstein, Director of Operations, WNBPA

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