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Former WNBA president Val Ackerman to lead Big East as first Commish

FILE - In this April 17 2004 file phoWNBA President Val Ackerman poses WNBA Draft Secaucus N.J.  The newly

FILE - In this April 17, 2004 file photo, WNBA President Val Ackerman poses at the WNBA Draft in Secaucus, N.J. The newly reconstituted Big East Conference has hired former WNBA president Ackerman, a member of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, as its commissioner. The Big East, which made the announcement Wednesday, June 26, 2013, will be headquartered in New York City and begin official operations on July 1. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun, File) ORG XMIT: NY169

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Updated: July 30, 2013 7:59AM

The presidents of the new Big East have chosen former WNBA president Val Ackerman as the league’s first commissioner.

The appointment announced Wednesday comes four days before the new league formally begins operations on July 1.

Ackerman, 53, who has a long history in basketball, will be the prime driver of the new 10-member conference, which includes DePaul, Marquette, Seton Hall, Providence, Georgetown, St. John’s and Villanova from the “old’’ Big East, along with new additions Butler, Creighton and Xavier.

The new league also will put its headquarters in New York, it announced.

Ackerman’s resume is noted most for her executive work with the NBA, beginning in 1988 as a staff attorney and later as special assistant to commissioner David Stern. She then became president of the WNBA for nine years.

“I am honored to be given this incredible opportunity,’’ Ackerman said in a statement. “Our mission is simple — to continue and enhance the Big East’s legacy of intense competition, spirited rivalries and unparalleled achievement, not only in college basketball, but in all intercollegiate sports.’’

Stern issued a statement lauding the appointment as “an inspired choice.’’

“I had the pleasure of working alongside Val for many years, including the period in which she transformed the WNBA from a mere concept into a thriving basketball league,’’ he said. “Her experience and intelligence, along with a keen analytic ability, an intense work ethic and a winning management style, will help steer the historic Big East Conference to even greater heights.’’

Ackerman was one of the first female scholarship athletes at Virginia, where she was a four-year starter on the basketball team and a two-time Academic All-American. She played professionally in France for one year before enrolling at UCLA, where she earned a law degree.

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