Newlywed WNBA players Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson each received a seven-game suspension from the league on Friday for a domestic violence incident in April.
The couple’s punishment is stiffest in WNBA history; the league’s seasons consist of just 34 games, so the suspensions mean Griner and Johnson will sit out more than 20 percent of their teams’ regular season campaigns.
Griner, who plays for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, and Johnson, who plays for the Tulsa Shock, were arrested in April on suspicion of assault and disorderly conduct after fighting at their home outside of Phoenix. According to the Times, a WNBA investigation found that Griner suffered a “bite wound on her finger and scratches on her wrist, and Glory received a scratch above her lip and was diagnosed with a concussion.”
“This will never happen again, and I take my relationship and my responsibility as a role model seriously,” Griner said in a statement after pleading guilty to the disorderly conduct charges.
WNBA President Laurel J. Richie called the couple’s behavior “unacceptable.”
The W.N.B.A. takes all acts of violence extremely seriously. It is our strong belief that violence has absolutely no place in society, in sports or in this league. As president, it is my responsibility to protect the league and uphold its values. Our athletes represent the W.N.B.A., and they all must abide by the league’s standards of conduct. In this case, Brittney and Glory failed to do so, and that is unacceptable.
Griner and Johnson are both WNBA All-Stars. In 2014, Griner led the Phoenix Mercury to a championship while compiling 129 blocks to become the WNBA Defensive Player of the Year. Johnson, a two-time All-Star, was picked fourth overall by the Shock in the 2012 draft.
The couple’s domestic violence spat marked the second recent high-profile incident in women’s sports leagues. Last year, authorities in Washington state charged U.S. women’s soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo with domestic violence. She continued to play in the National Women’s Soccer League and for the U.S. national team. The charges were dropped in January, but an incident involving her husband, a U.S. national team van, and a suspicion of DUI arrest resulted in Solo’s suspension by U.S. Soccer.