SBJ/Sept. 9-15, 2013/Game Changers

Game Changers: Lynn Hickey

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Photo: UTSA ATHLETICS
Hickey poses with UTSA items of significance, including the 2012-13 Western Athletic Conference Commissioner’s Cup.
Team Leaders
Lynn Hickey
University of Texas at San Antonio | Director of Athletics

J
ust a few years ago, Lynn Hickey introduced her new football coach, Larry Coker, in the most modest of settings. “We had one football and one helmet that we used as props at press conferences,” laughed Hickey, the athletic director at UTSA.

The Roadrunners now are in their third season of football, but Hickey still is driving them down a path of firsts: This year marks the school’s inaugural season in Conference USA.

“When [consultant] Bill Carr came in and did a feasibility study for football in 2006, he said our dream conference would be Conference USA,” Hickey said.

Charting a new course is nothing new for Hickey. As a young athlete, her dad took her to see the Wayland Baptist Flying Queens, a women’s basketball barnstorming team in Oklahoma.

She was hooked by the sport. That love of basketball led her into coaching and, eventually, to the AD job at UTSA and to a spot on the NCAA men’s basketball committee, where she served for five years. She was just the second woman to be named to the committee.

Those experiences helped shape Hickey’s vision for UTSA. “Because of where we are now, there’s a lot more visibility nationally, but you also deal with increased pressures and increased expectations on the financial side,” she said.             

— Michael Smith

  • Best advice you’ve received: The most important help or direction I have received is the expectations/lifestyle that my parents gave to me. They gave my brothers (I have four younger ones) and me the confidence to dream big — and then instilled in us a work ethic to make those dreams come true. They taught us to have faith (believing in ourselves) and passion (giving all we can). The expectation they had for us in our academic and athletic pursuits was to be responsible and to out-work those around us by consistently taking care of all the little things every day. They instilled in us the concept of being coachable and leading by example of effort and commitment.
  • What would you, at age 18, find surprising about the person you’ve become today?: I was very shy, so I think the biggest surprise is how comfortable I am doing speaking engagements. I still get nervous but I enjoy making presentations and speaking to all different kinds of groups.
  • The biggest challenge I face working in the sports business is …: Fundraising.
  • My vision of success is …: Being a significant “servant” leader who has a positive impact and takes care of others.

“When I think of leaders who exude integrity, Lynn Hickey is at the top of the pyramid. You know the old saying, ‘You either have it or you don’t’: Lynn has it 10 times over. It is always a joy to work with a person who is reasonable, rational, prudent and objective, and Lynn represents that at the highest level. Our friendship goes back more than 20 years, and those attributes still represent so much of who she is. She is trusted.”

— Gene Smith | Athletic director | Ohio State University

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