My reputation preceded me because of my strong work ethic. And a willingness to do whatever it takes. And that's not necessarily for a check.
Associate Vice President, Basketball Operations
Womens National Basketball Association
×This interview was completed before the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.
The interview with Todd DeMoss was conducted via a phone conversation and later transcribed. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.
Tell us about your role as the Associate Vice President, Basketball Operations of the Womens National Basketball Association .
We are the department that deals with anything that has to do with the game or anything that occurs on the hardwood; that is our main responsibility.
That goes from developing, implementing, and policing standards that are laid out in our governing documents.
This includes the operations manual, rule book, and anything that the board of governors deems as important. It's our responsibility to monitor that and guide teams on how to stay within the parameters of those guidelines.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Mostly, a typical day consists of working at the league office.
We do travel quite a bit covering games and other events which involve our teams. We also cover live games during the season.
Presently, we're in our planning season, our offseason, which is a great deal of working at the office every day.
Right now at this juncture of the season, we're preparing for our draft which will occur in April.
We work with teams collecting data on prospective draftees and then we work on selecting roughly the top 10 or 12 individuals that we'll invite to draft.
3When was the point that you realized that you were meant to do this career and why you wanted a career in sports?
My degree is actually in sports medicine and I went from high school in to college at the University of Iowa studying Sports Medicine. Then, I took my first job as the Head Athletic Trainer of a minor league basketball team that started up in my home town.
So actually that's how I started in sports was from that side and working in minor league basketball especially in the '80's and early '90's it was very much a "mom-and-pop" and I was one of the few full time employees. Which team?
I had a lot of roles that went beyond just basketball and basketball operations. If the players were going to need food, I had to negotiate deals with restaurants.
If I had wanted the players housing I had to go and negotiate deals with apartment complexes and having those type of responsibilities led to more on the operations side and more on the sales side which progressed my career a great deal.
Again, once you start creating a business, revenue opens many doors open.
That led to being head of basketball operations to being a general manager to being a team president in different areas. Actually in the CBA during that times period, likewise it was a small business so not a whole lot of people traveled from team to team, city to city, market to market and having exposure to what the product really was like across the board.
After doing that for about 10 years, I had the opportunity of joining the CBA league office as the head of team services which at that time was helping the teams from a marketing, sales and ticket sales standpoint, which was a unique position and only from the standpoint of being able to have the relationships and the experiences in each market as a trainer lead me to those opportunities on the business side.
The great thing about sports is that no matter what kind of industry you're interested in, there's probably an avenue or an aspect of it in the sports entertainment industry in which you could apply those skills.
4When we think of operations, we tend to think that you're dealing with the facility on a more personal level. Describe the process in preparing the facility leading up to a major event?
A lot of what we do starts from day one.
Schedule and planning the the event. We must lay out the schedule within our league standards both in the operations manual and our facilities standards manual that we have guidelines that we work with each building to fall within those guidelines.
We also must ensure that we have consistency for our teams, players, coaches on their experience that they'll have in each building, market to market.
From an events standpoint, we have special events each year that we put on as a league office such as drafts, such as our all-star and play offs that we do have a little bit more engagement or guiding of how those events will go and that will go from things such as selecting the facilities, to negotiating the contracts with those facilities, to planning the player or the stakeholders travel, accommodations, food.
So from the experience of running with a team, it's always fun to go back and get away from behind a desk and actually put on events. The touch points we have with players and coaches that are a little bit less formal than what we have on a day to day standpoint.
So those are fun and definitely for our fans putting on events such as the draft and all-stars are things that people really enjoy and we enjoy doing as a staff.
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5What would you say is the biggest challenge prior to an event or game?
Probably, again we have such great teams and building partners that we really don't have too many challenges. It's putting out fires.
Again when you're doing live events you always have to be prepared to problem solve and that's really what we get down to is most people know the jobs that need to be done and things usually go well.
On occasion you may have an issue with a clock or you might have a court issue, condensation might be occurring. You may have a security issue you have to address.
So for the most part, most games, 95% of the time go on with no issues.
Other times you have those one-off situations that you have to address and we work directly with the teams and the building at that time, even if I'm here in New York if I need to address something in Los Angeles, we're on the phone with the building managers along with the referees who are on site live to help rectify those things.
Luckily all our games are televised either regionally or nationally, and so each night we're observing the games and we have resources that we share with the NBA that we have basically a game operations center that monitors all the games. And so if anything does occur that needs our involvement we pretty much can do that real time from anywhere
6What would you say is the best part about your position?
Dealing with people.
We have amazing athletes who are a joy to work with.
Again, the world of women's basketball and women's professional basketball is very small, so it's the people that we work with day in and day out.
We view the people we work with here, within the league office, as a a small team focused on the goal of making the view better for our fans, players and owners.
7What is something people don't realize about working in the sport industry?
A lot of the people I mentor or the people that do the same thing ask me questions about getting into sports.
I think sometimes they feel they're going to be hanging out with the players every day at work. That is actually not the case.
I work in the league office. The subject matter we deal with day in and day out is basketball or sports.
You must be equally efficient using a computer and dealing with people. We are an entertainment industry. So, we're only successful when we entertain our constituents and stakeholders and provide them with value.
Stacey's Final Thoughts
After speaking with Todd on his journey to becoming Associate Vice President of Basketball Operations for the WNBA. It has become more apparent that as young sports professionals we often have these ideas of who we are and what we want for ourselves. But the truth is sometimes we don't know and that’s why it’s important to take every opportunity given to experience different roles and expand our knowledge within this industry. Todd covers a wide range of tasks and responsibilities such as off-court administration, managing special events, developing and implementing policies. Seeing the diverse aspects of a career in professional sport-specific to operations management makes it clear that a prominent work ethic and the ability to continue to learn are major keys to becoming well established and successful. Two fundamental points that I will definitely carry with me throughout my career. I want to thank Todd for giving me the opportunity to interview him and for providing me with his personal knowledge from his journey in the sports industry.