- M.A. Sport Management
- Long Beach, CA
- 18 months/36 credits
- minimum 2.75
- Statement of Purpose
- Three reference forms
- Proof of GRE scores: minimum 145 quantitative, 145 verbal, 3.5 analytical
- 9 credits
- Minimum 500 contact hours
- Over 400 affiliations
Penny Toler is entering her 12th season as General Manager and third as Vice President of the Los Angeles Sparks. Her skill at building rosters of the most talented female athletes in the world and keen sense of basketball operations are complimented by her years as a professional athlete. Through her experience she has built the rosters of two back-to-back WNBA championship teams with the Sparks in 2001 and 2002.
Toler’s duties include a variety of responsibilities year-round, with overall attention to the day-to-day management of the team. Her management decisions include contract negotiations, salary cap relations and strategy, and the scouting of collegiate and international players. In addition to those tasks, she also works in various marketing, public relations, and other management functions.
Toler retired from playing professional basketball in November 1999 with a combined 13 years overseas/WNBA experience to become the second General Manager in team history. In just two years, Toler became the fastest person in any men’s or women’s professional sports league to win a championship after being named General Manager from player status. Toler delivered the first WNBA Championship to the city of Los Angeles by dethroning the four-time WNBA champion Houston Comets (2001).
In her 11 years as General Manager, Toler has guided the team to the WNBA Playoffs in 10 seasons, (2000-2006, 2008-2010), as well as three conference championships in 2001, 2002 and 2003, and two WNBA championships in 2001 and 2002. In an effort to advance the women’s game, Toler was a strong advocate in implementing the 24 second shot clock and turning the two, twenty minutes halves into four, ten minute quarters.
After being named Sparks General Manager, Toler was invited to join the USA Basketball Women’s Competition Committee where she assisted in the selection of three gold medal winning teams: the 2002 World University Championship games, the 2004 Olympic team and the 2008 Olympic team.
Widely recognized as the first player to score a basket in WNBA history, Toler began her career with the Sparks as the starting point guard in the league’s inaugural game on June 21, 1997 at the Great Western Forum against the New York Liberty. Originally allocated along with Lisa Leslie, as one of two Los Angeles franchise players, she ranked second in points per game (13.1) and first in free throw percentage (83.9%). Toler shot 41.7% from three-point range, ranking her second in the WNBA among three-point percentage leaders, and she also finished fifth in the league in assists with 4.8 per game.
Beyond the WNBA, Toler combined her sense of community and business savvy and began her “Points from Penny” program in 1998. The goal of the program is to teach youth in the Los Angeles and Las Vegas areas the fundamentals of basketball, the importance of teamwork and the value of competition. The program was nominated for several awards during its tenure, including the American Express Entrepreneurial Spirit Award. Since that time she has focused on bringing the same type of community oriented programs to the Sparks front office. For the past six seasons, the Sparks players, coaches and staff have participated in the Academic Skills Basketball Clinic, a program created by Toler that emphasizes the importance of academics as well as athletic success.
In 1989, she was highly recruited by teams in Europe. Until 1997 Toler played for a number of organizations overseas including Montecchio and Pescara in Italy, Sporting Flash in Greece, and Ramat HaSharon in Israel. During this time, she acquired many honors and finished the 1995 European Cups as the fifth leading scorer, averaging 22 points per game.
Toler graduated from Long Beach State University in 1989 where she set several school records including career assists (513) and career free-throw percentage (.795). A member of two Final Four teams, (1987 and 1988), under Coach Joan Bonvicini, Toler earned Kodak All-America honors, Pacific Coast Athletic Association Player of the Year and Co-Player of the Year/Big West recognition in 1988 and 1989. Toler scored 2,193 points in three seasons of play at LBSU (she sat out the 1985-86 season after transferring from San Diego State). Toler’s impressive collegiate career was recognized in a Hall of Fame ceremony in 1995 and a Jersey Retirement ceremony in 2007 by the Long Beach State Athletics Department.
Toler made history again in a 2006 in front of players, fans and staff when her number 11 Sparks jersey was the first and only female athlete’s jersey to be retired at the STAPLES Center.Toler’s hobbies include going to the movies, getting interior design tips from HGTV, and working with underprivileged youth and donating to battered women’s programs. She also sits on the Long Beach State Advisory Committee for the Sports Management program. Raised in Washington D.C. with three brothers and four sisters, Toler currently resides in Los Angeles.