Upon walking into Lynn Hickey’s office, it is easy to see the commitment she has brought to UTSA as the athletics director.
Some of the memorabilia and awards that line her office walls are from Hickey’s playing and coaching career; the rest are recognitions the Roadrunners have received, such as trophies from The Southland Conference Commissioner’s Cup, basketballs from Final Fours and, most notably, a UTSA football helmet encased in glass. On her desk, Hickey has a UTSA football.
All the awards in her office reflect her winning spirit and attached with these awards are fond memories of victorious athletic feats that hold special significance to her.
Under Hickey’s command, UTSA’s athletic program has racked up 26 conference championships in 13 years.
The UTSA Roadrunners have established themselves as one of the top athletic programs in the Southland Conference and have finished first or second in the Commissioner’s Cup standings in each of the past six years.
Hickey is the first person to celebrate UTSA’s success and one of the foremost players in achieving it. She has sponsored the addition of three new sports teams during her tenure: women’s golf in 2005, women’s soccer in 2006 and the football program in 2011.
When Hickey talks about her life before UTSA, it is easy to see how her passion about sports became a cornerstone in her life.
“I started in the business as a basketball coach and that’s what I had always dreamed of doing, coaching basketball at the highest level, so I had coached at Oklahoma, at Kansas State and at Texas A&M and just kind of by accident, the way the job was structured at A&M, I also had the title of assistant athletic director, so I was really doing two jobs at A&M; I never thought I wanted to be a full-time administrator, but as my career progressed and as doors kept opening, I kept getting pushed to go that way and it’s been a really good decision for me,” Hickey said.
Hickey grew up in Welch, Oklahoma, which had only one coach: her father. Hickey got all of her motivation and appreciation for athletics from her father and four brothers. She had always been an athletic person, and playing basketball became her passion; it remains her passion to this day.
Hickey attended and graduated from Ouachita Baptist University with a bachelor’s degree in education. She began coaching as the head women’s basketball coach at the college level at Kansas State University from 1979 to 1984.
While coaching at Kansas State, she met Bill Hickey, a baseball coach. They have been married 38 years and have one daughter together, Lauren Nicole.
Hickey coached women’s basketball at Texas A&M for 10 years, 1984 to 1994. She also took on the title of Senior Associate Athletic Director at Texas A&M, where she was doing essentially two jobs.
Hickey thought she had reached her potential at A&M and decided she wanted a fresh start. She was offered the position as Athletic Director at UTSA after DeLoss Dodds, the Athletic Director at Texas A&M and a longtime supporter of Hickey’s, received a call from UTSA President, Dr. Ricardo Romo, who was in need of an athletic director at UTSA.
Dodds immediately thought of Hickey as ready to take on the role, given her experience. The interviewing process was a grueling one.
“Dr. Romo has a lot of vision. He’s very progressive, and it was just outstanding that he gave a female candidate an opportunity. Not very many people, at the time, were doing that, so I was at the right place at the right time.
“Dr. Romo believes in diversity and had the courage to give me a chance,” Hickey said.
Another person Hickey credits for her success is DeLoss Dodds, “the first Athletic Director to ever give me a college coaching job. DeLoss had been a big networker for me for a long time.”
After having had a successful career at UTSA, Hickey has yet another accomplishment to add to her resume—setting up the UTSA Football Team along with fellow colleague, Brad Parrott, Senior Associate Athletics Director, with whom she worked closely with during the eight-year process.
“In Dec. of 2009, we had worked all year on presenting a business plan. We had a really good business plan and it finally got approved by The Board of Regents on December 18, 2009. The following March we hired Coach Coker. Larry Coker is known as one of the best coaches in the country,” Hickey said. Coker is quite known; he coached for The University of Miami and was also an ESPN commentator.
Brad Parrott, who worked closely with Hickey during this undertaking, recounts fond memories about working with her.
“I have the utmost respect and admiration for Lynn. I would trust her with my life. She gave me a tremendous opportunity to be part of this program. And I’ll always be thankful and appreciative for that opportunity. Lynn Hickey is one of the nicest people I know.
“Sometimes she’s too nice. She may be the most conscientious and hardest working person I’ve ever been around. She expects more out of herself than she does anyone else. We call her ‘Mother Superior.’ She likes to mother the Roadrunner nest,” Parrott said.
Since Hickey had such a strong hand in the birth of the football program at UTSA, it certainly makes sense that she feels that way about her job and the people she supports in all 17 athletic categories.
One of the main areas of concern for Hickey is the importance of getting young people an education, finishing high school and going to college for young students. Hickey believes opening doors for students who have been traditionally underrepresented is the best thing a university can do. There is a program Lynn is especially proud of, called the Dream Runners; they are Roadrunner student athletes that go into the schools and talk or visit with kids to put this dream in front of them to let them know that they can attend college and get involved in sports also.
“We are not here for athletics, but athletics can open doors and create visibility for the campus. If we can help campus life and be a visible agent to attract attention to the university in the right way, and if we could have an impact on the youth of the city, then adding football was well worth the effort,” Hickey said.
When asked about what was next for the football team, Hickey stated that, “By 2014, we will be fully certified to be an FBS school playing at the Football Bowl Subdivision level, and by 2013 the Roadrunners will be opening against Oklahoma State, so we’re really stepping up.
This next year we’ll play a full WAC schedule. The team has been off to a good start, for a young team, consisting mostly of freshman, sophomores and now two seniors. They did well. I really believe in God, and God is a Roadrunner because everything just fell into place.”