July 23, 2011 - International Basketball League (IBL)
Portland, OR July 22, 2011 - Professional minor league basketball is alive and well in the IBL with teams from the pacific northwest to the north eastern US and even further up north into Canada. Attending games at the 8 year old league's venues across North America, you see former NBA, NBDL and overseas athletes as well as up and coming basketball stars in a fast paced game within an intimate setting full of excitement for fans. The IBL Championship team owner and now league owner, Bryan Hunter - moves Sharleen Graf, former General Manager of the BC Titans to lead the league as the Commissioner of the IBL, and it could be a first.
"Sharleen's expertise in professional sports and specifically minor league basketball will be a tremendous asset to our league," said Hunter. "Our research to date is that she could be the first women to hold a Commissioner position in men's professional basketball. However gender doesn't matter as I believe she has the desire and capacity to not only handle the position of Commissioner, but to excel at it."
With a long history in sports management the new IBL Commissioner has been involved with many professional basketball leagues' including the WBL, IBA, IBL and CBA. She has also worked with the CFL, NFL, NBDL, WHL and professional baseball leagues. Graf's background also includes venue management and events from concerts to sport across North America. This depth of knowledge, experience and network will come in handy as the IBL build the league, fan base and produce high quality athletes aspiring to overseas positions.
In one season of operation as the General Manager of the BC Titans Graf took the team from a losing record to a winning one, on and off the court which must have been noticed by the league. Currently a Director on the Board for Basketball British Columbia, working with multiple Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Basketball Clubs, it's all ball for this lady.
"Becoming the IBL Commissioner is a great opportunity, it allows me to develop a league, players and family entertainment all in one," said Graf. "I follow and am inspired by great women in sport like Kim Ng, Senior VP for Baseball Operations in the MLB's Commissioner's office and Heidi Ueberroth, current President NBA International, who some say is the next NBA Commissioner, as well as the best Commissioner I ever worked with, Gary Hunter in the CBA. I am thrilled about the opportunity to work with business professionals, athletes and fans with a passion for the game, developing the league internationally, to continue the organization's upward momentum."
Next steps for the IBL will be meetings with teams, preparation for next year's season and announcing leaders in the areas of media relations and officials. The new Commissioner is attending the Hoops 206 events including an NBA charity game at Key Arena this weekend in support of the A PLUS Youth Program in greater Seattle.