Sparks hire Ilene Hauser as vice president of basketball operations

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 has 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 focus areas for us this offseason have been our overall operating effectiveness and the Sparks player experience,” general manager Karen Bryant said in a statement. “Ilene is uniquely qualified to lead these areas for us given her 20 plus years in women’s basketball, with most of those years spent specifically on the pro level. Her experience, leadership, reputation, and passion for the game bring tremendous value to the Sparks.”

Hauser, who currently serves as the director of basketball at Athletes Unlimited, will join the Sparks after the league’s five-week season finishes this week. Athletes Unlimited — a three-year-old women’s sports league that also features lacrosse, softball and volleyball — is in its second season of basketball, and Hauser works to elevate the business verticals of the basketball league and connect AU with the women’s basketball community.

Hauser previously spent 15 years as the manager of women’s basketball marketing at Nike and eight years with the Mercury, where she worked in scoutin and basketball operations and led the community relations department.

The Sparks also completed 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 overseas.

By hiring a former WNBA player, head coach Curt Miller is allowed to have Viglione 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 closed scrimmage on May 14.

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