USA Basketball: It would be 'irresponsible' to put Caitlin Clark on Olympic team for marketing reasons

The roster for the 2024 US Olympic women's basketball team was released on Tuesday, and as was expected, Caitlin Clark's name wasn't on it. Reports had surfaced Saturday that Clark wouldn't be competing for USA Basketball at the upcoming Paris Olympics.

Selection committee chair Jen Rizzotti, who is also president of the Connecticut Sun and head coach of the US women's 3x3 team, commented about Clark being left off the roster, responding specifically to criticism that USA Basketball is missing a chance to market and grow the WNBA by leaving Clark at home.

“It would be irresponsible for us to talk about [Clark] in a way other than how she would impact the play of the team,” Rizzotti said via the AP. “Because it wasn’t the purview of our committee to decide how many people would watch or how many people would root for the U.S. It was our purview to create the best team we could for Cheryl [Reeve, head coach].”

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 07: Caitlin Clark #22 of the Indiana Fever talks to the media before the game against the Washington Mystics at Capital One Arena on June 07, 2024 in Washington, DC.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
USA Basketball didn't consider marketing or growth opportunities when selecting the roster for the US Olympic women's basketball team. There was simply too much talent for Caitlin Clark to crack the team. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) (G Fiume via Getty Images)

Clark, a rookie with no international experience whatsoever, responded like a champ when she was asked about missing the roster, saying she hopes she'll be able to get to the Olympics "one day." She knows she'll have more chances in the future, and she'll be ready for them when they come along.

But ESPN sports personalities (and noted yellers) Stephen A. Smith and Shannon Sharpe went off on USA Basketball when they found out Clark wasn't on the roster, complaining that the organization wasn't serious about growing the WNBA if they're leaving off the most popular women's basketball player in the country.

While marketing the WNBA is an admirable goal, as Rizzotti said, it is in no way the goal of USA Basketball. Their goal is to put together the best team possible so they can win medals, trophies, and championships around the world. They may use WNBA players, but they are a separate organization from the WNBA. If the different names didn't flag that for Smith and Sharpe, 15 seconds of research would have led them to that conclusion. Hopefully that's not too much time for them to spend preparing for their next WNBA segment.

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