Lynn Holzman is returning to the NCAA, but not to come back to the same old gig.
She wants change. She wants to be proactive. She wants to ensure that the women’s game is cutting edge.
She did not leave a comfortable, challenging and impressive job as the commissioner of the West Coast Conference based in the beautiful Bay Area to be just another executive at the national headquarters.
No, Holzman is back to make a difference.
She worked at the NCAA as a director of academic and membership affairs from 2001 to 2012 and worked closely with the women’s basketball coaches association, issues committee and task forces on the game.
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This one-time Kansas State women's basketball captain is not about being ordinary.
“I was very happy and committed to being the commissioner of the WCC,’’ said Holzman, 45. “But this is transformational.’’
The women’s game needs Holzman as much as she coveted this job once Dan Gavitt sought out a comparable person to be the coordinator of the women’s game like he is essentially for the men’s game as a vice president at the NCAA.
“The women’s game is in a good place,’’ said Holzman. “But we can’t be stagnant. This is a pivotal time.’’
The charge is not just about parity, marketing and embracing the demographics of fans who support women’s basketball, according to Holzman. She wants women’s basketball to not just viewed as a cost center on campus.
“The game isn’t broken,’’ said Holzman. “We have to be proactive.’’
And the women’s game has done so by going to four quarters. The men’s game has discussed doing so, but hasn’t been willing to take that step.
Holzman wants to emphasize how the women’s game is a good watch. It may not be above the rim, but the skills are worthy of promoting.
Holzman is also looking into unifying the entire sport. Every Women's Final Four bid going forward beyond 2019 (Tampa Bay) and 2020 (New Orleans) will include a bid to host Division II and III national championships, as well.
“We want to unify the basketball community,’’ said Holzman. “It has been somewhat fragmented. But the NCAA national office and our team here and women’s basketball coaches should be a partnership.’’
Women’s basketball has been dominated by the head coaching faces of the game. But the players can be just as prominent and promoted as the men in some cases.
The hope also is that the selection process for the NCAA tournament could be more transparent.
“We hope that it could help us market the game,’’ said Holzman. “The answer can’t be that we’ve always done it this way. The world doesn’t work this way.
And neither does Lynn Holzman. She’s a doer. Not a wallflower. And she is back at the NCAA to make something happen, to ensure the women’s game grows and flourishes in the years to come.