Inaugural season 1999-2000
No. of teams 13
Country United States
The International Basketball League (IBL) was a short-lived professional men's basketball league in the United States. The IBL was headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland. The league started in 1999 and ended in 2001.
The International Basketball League was founded in early 1999 and made plans to begin play in fall of that year. The first season did not quite meet expectations with attendance, but the league was still largely functional, with the Saint Louis Swarm winning the first championship. The second season was significantly rougher, with the league losing the Baltimore and San Diego franchises and merging with teams from the Continental Basketball Association after that league folded early in 2000. The Swarm won the championship of that league in the second season, and although the league had stated that it would return for a third season, this was not to be the case, and all the teams folded soon after the season ended, although the teams from the former CBA ultimately restarted the CBA the following year. Although the league had some innovations such as playing the international three-point line and trapezoid lane, and with the intention to offer professional basketball and more reasonable ticket prices, the cost structure of the league was simply too great for the revenue and attendance figures that it received.
The International Basketball League (IBL) was first proposed in 1996 as a single-structure organization similar to Major League Soccer. Because of this players were paid by the league and not the team's owners. The IBL also had classes they called "Player Education/Life Readiness Plan" in which IBL players were informed about scholarship opportunities and how to balance school and professional basketball. Plans for the league to begin play were tentatively set for November 1997 with 10 unidentified franchise in the United States.
The league sought to have college players or high school players join their league instead of playing in the NCAA, where they could not receive compensation for their play. NCAA spokesperson Katherine Rice responded to the IBL by saying, "As an educational program, we prefer young people to get an education as a basis for their sports activities."
A two-day meeting was held in St. Louis, Missouri on January 19, 1999 with over 50 IBL owners, executives and advisers in attendance. They were briefed on several things including potential television contracts, the IBL draft and the playoffs.
On February 15, 1999 IBL president Thaxter Trafton announced the team would begin the season on November 26, 1999. Paul Martha served as the IBL vice president and general legal council.