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NWSL notebook: Commissioner announcement nears, but who is in charge right now?

Photo Copyright Lewis Gettier for The Equalizer

Amanda Duffy’s official transition out of the role of National Women’s Soccer League president to executive vice president of the Orlando Pride occurred on Saturday, and with it came the very simple question: Who’s in charge of the league now?

The undertone of that question is more dire than reality, but the lack of direct answer at the moment is, at minimum, frustrating. The league announced that Duffy would be moving out of her role as president on Jan. 15.

Multiple team owners declined to answer that question on Monday. The league is expected to issue a statement this week.

UPDATE (5 p.m. ET, 2/18/20): The NWSL has released a statement saying that a commissioner — who is a woman — will be introduced in the coming weeks.

Commissioner hire will shape the NWSL’s future, for better or worse

One possibility explored when Duffy informed the league’s board of her impending departure was the idea that a group of owners (including, potentially, the executive committee) would, on an interim basis, take on any pressing responsibilities that Duffy would have handled. Defining what those would be is largely hypothetical; things like a question about the interpretation of a rule or approval of a roster change come to mind. Sources said that there is no panic around the immediate lack of a singular person in charge; the transition plan has been in place for several weeks. That time to prepare, however, makes the lack of a timely answer all the more odd. For now, the league is operating as a collective group.

The good news is that the appointment of a commissioner before the start of the 2020 season appears to be on course. Utah Royals FC owner Dell Loy Hansen reportedly said on Feb. 7 that the league had chosen a commissioner. “Chosen” does not mean signed, which is the final part of the hiring process, but it’s possible that a new commissioner could be announced by early March. The league has been without an official commissioner since Jeff Plush left the role in March 2017.

A league schedule is likely to be announced first — possibly early next week — with TV broadcast details to follow. The Equalizer’s Dan Lauletta previously reported that CBS Sports is expected to be the new media rights holder of the NWSL. The NWSL season will, for the first time, stretch into November, as first reported by The Athletic’s Meg Linehan.

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