The Sparks have continued their offseason overhaul with the addition of Ilene Hauser as vice president of basketball operations and player relations.
The sports executive, who previously worked with the Phoenix Mercury and Nike, will oversee team operations including travel, facilities, player housing and scheduling in a new role for a franchise hoping to stabilize operations after years of inconsistency.
“Two areas of focus for us this offseason have been our overall operating effectiveness and the experience of the Sparks players,” general manager Karen Bryant said in a statement. “Ilene is uniquely qualified to lead these areas for us given her more than 20 years in women’s basketball, with most of those years spent specifically at the professional level. Her experience, leadership, reputation and her passion for the game bring tremendous value to the Sparks.”
Hauser, who currently serves as director of basketball at Athletes Unlimited, will join the Sparks after the league’s five-week season ends this week. Athletes Unlimited, a three-year women’s sports league that also includes lacrosse, softball and volleyball, is in its second season of basketball, and Hauser works to elevate the basketball league’s business verticals and connect AU to the women’s basketball community .
Previously, Hauser spent 15 years as the women’s basketball marketing manager at Nike and eight years with Mercury, where he worked in basketball and scouting operations and led the community relations department.
The Sparks also filled out their coaching staff earlier this month, hiring Danielle Viglione as the team’s third assistant coach. An inaugural member of the now-defunct Sacramento Monarchs, Viglione played professionally for 10 years abroad.
By hiring a former WNBA player, head coach Curt Miller can have Viglione serve as a third assistant coach along with Chris Koclanes and Steve Smith. The Sparks also have player development coach Nola Henry.
Before opening the season on May 19 at home against the Phoenix Mercury, the Sparks will face Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi in a preseason game on May 12 in Phoenix and host the Seattle Storm in a close game on May 14. May.