Former Virginia player Val Ackerman headlines the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame's Class of 2011 inductees as a key contributor to the sport. She joins Maryland's Vicky Bullett, as well as Ruthie Bolton, coach Muffet McGraw, Pearl Moore, and Lometa Odom to round out the six-member class.
While at Virginia from 1977-1981, Ackerman was a four-year starter and two-time All-American. She was among the first women's scholarship athletes at UVa, was a three-time captain of the Cavaliers and helped and helped Virginia reach national Top 20 rankings her senior year. Following college, she played professionally in France for one season.
Ackerman went on to UCLA for her law degree, after which she worked for two years at a top New York law firm. In 1988, she served as a staff attorney for the National Basketball Association and as special assistant to NBA Commissioner David Stern, director of business affairs and vice president of business affairs prior to her appointment to head the WNBA in 1996.
Ackerman was the WNBA's first president, guiding the league to a much-heralded launch in 1997 and overseeing the day-to-day operations for its first eight years. A USA Basketball board member since 1989, Ackerman was the driving force behind the Women's Senior National Team that produced a 60-0 record and won the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. In 2005, she became the first woman to serve as President of USA Basketball, which oversees the U.S. Men's and Women's Olympic basketball programs.
In Sept. 2008, Ackerman received the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the most prestigious honor presented by the Hall outside of induction, and was recognized as an ACC Women's Basketball Legend in 2009.
The Women's Basketball Hall of Fame's Board of Directors serves as the selection committee in determining which individuals will be inducted each year. Voting is based on various factors, which may include moral character, integrity, sportsmanship, record of performance, ability, national or international recognition, and contributions to the game of women's basketball.
In order to be considered for selection for induction as a contributor, an individual "must have significantly impacted the game of women's basketball." Ackerman will join Virginia head coach Debbie Ryan, who was inducted in 2008 into the Hall of Fame.