Queen of the Court: Nikki Fargas Helped Bring Las Vegas Its First Pro Championship

The city of Las Vegas is known more for sports betting than actual sports, but that’s changing due to the Las Vegas Aces and its president, Nikki Fargas.

Fargas and the Aces won their first WNBA championship earlier this month, becoming the first of the city’s three pro teams to win a title.

The Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder reports Fargas is the second-highest ranking Black executive in the WNBA. New York Liberty CEO Keia Clarke and Los Angeles Sparks Senior Vice President Natalie White are the other Black female C-Suite members in the WNBA.

Fargas was hired by the Aces last May after a decade coaching the Louisiana State University women’s basketball team. She finished with a 240-142 record and made the Sweet Sixteen in back-to-back years, 2012-13 and 2013-14.

“After 25 years of coaching, I wanted to pave the way for those who came after me. When I left LSU, I was the only Black head coach, and it served me well. Most important is that LSU…[I] have a 100% graduation rate,” Fargas said when she took the Aces position.

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert praised Fargas during a press conference before Game 1 of this year’s WNBA Finals calling her “a great reflection on the league and the ownership and the diversity of our front offices.”

The Aces are the fourth team in the 26-year history of the WNBA to win a championship with a Black general manager and the second in a row after the Chicago Sky and General Manager James Wade won the 2021 WNBA title.

Aces owner Mark Davis is a champion of diversity, much like his father, the late Al Davis, who as the owner of the NFL’s Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, hired Art Shell twice, once in 1989, making him the first Black head coach in the NFL since the 1920s. Davis hired Shell again in 1996.

Davis, who now owns both the Aces and the Raiders, followed his father’s footsteps by hiring Sandra Douglass Morgan as team president, the first Black woman in the NFL to hold that position.

Despite Morgan and Fargas showing what Black women can do when given the opportunity, Black women are still few and far between in corporate positions. According to a recent report from McKinsey, Black women make up just four percent of C-suite executives, something  Fargas wants to see change.

“I hope it gets to the point where it’s not like, ‘Oh my gosh, look what’s going on,’ to where it becomes the norm. You gave us an opportunity and we’re gonna be damn good at it, because all of our life we’ve had to be twice as good,” Fargas told the Spokesman-Recorder. “To have us in those leadership roles is not something that was just given to us. It’s something that was earned. To hire us, it’s OK to put us in those leadership roles.”