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Volume 21 No. 35
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People to watch

The future of women’s basketball will be touched, in some form or fashion, by these influential voices

Val Ackerman

Big East

While her influence is spread across both the men’s and women’s games now, no one wields more sway in women’s basketball. Any of the other people on this power list would call Ackerman before making an important decision.



Debbie Antonelli


Analyst, ESPN

She has emerged as the Jay Bilas of the women’s game. The former North Carolina State athlete has opinions on everything from the structure of the women’s NCAA tournament to marketing, and she isn’t afraid to share them.



Geno Auriemma

Head coach, University of Connecticut

When the game’s most successful coach speaks, everyone listens. His thoughts on leadership, motivation and defining success are words to live by, whether you’re a coach or a CEO.



Danielle Donehew

Executive director, Women’s Basketball Coaches Association

In her fourth year, Donehew manages the operations and marketing for the coaches, and acts as the liaison with other entities like USA Basketball, the NCAA and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.



Rich Ensor

Commissioner, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

He just started his role as vice chair of the women’s basketball oversight committee, which manages the development and branding of the women’s game. He also works with the tournament selection and rules committees.



Lynn Holzman

Vice president of women’s basketball, NCAA

The former West Coast Conference commissioner joined the NCAA in December. A team captain at Kansas State, she has maintained an active role advocating for the women’s game over two decades and now will direct the tournament.



Dawn Staley

Head coach, University of South Carolina

The coach of the defending national champions has become the model for marketing a women’s basketball program. She’s active on Twitter, she engages fans at the game, and her teams are visible in the community. By no coincidence, the Gamecocks lead the nation in attendance.



Carol Stiff 

Vice president of women’s sports programming, ESPN

She leads the network’s efforts on programming women’s college basketball and the WNBA on its linear TV channels, while also coordinating women’s content across ESPN’s other platforms.


— Compiled by Michael Smith