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Winter 1998
In a League of Their Own
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If you're looking for defining moments in the program, says Holland, just look at the national titles -- and there have been plenty. Indeed, UCLA has won the national award for the best all-around women's program (based on top-20 finishes in every sport) 11 times -- twice as many as any other school. Nowadays, the Sears Director's Cup combines the men's and women's programs and the Bruins are a perennial top-five finisher.

But if you're looking for moments that gave the women's program a "kick in the pants," look at the losing years, she insists, or at the times when hard decisions had to be made. Early in Holland's tenure, for example, she fired highly successful track and field coach Chuck Debus when allegations were made about inappropriate conduct with athletes. That set a strong ethical tone for the department. She also had to eliminate the sports of crew and badminton (in which basketball/volleyball player Denise Corlett '81 won a national title in Arizona, then flew home for a basketball game that night) as competitive opportunities dwindled.

An even tougher decision for Holland was to take a leadership role in the movement for women's collegiate sports to be governed by the NCAA. Formerly president of the AIAW, the women-run governing body since the early '70s, Holland had come to believe that only the NCAA could take women's sports to the next level of better recruitment, greater funding and, ultimately, more recognition.

"I thought I did what was right for UCLA," she says. It didn't make her popular among other women in the profession, who were concerned that the NCAA would take women out of leadership roles. Even so, under Holland, the UCLA women's athletic program joined the NCAA in 1981. Her decision proved right. Merging the women's and men's athletics departments in 1982 brought a feeling of increased parity and resource shariing. In fact, the imprimatur of the NCAA gave women's sports an entirely new cachet, with an attendant increase in national attention, publicity -- and glamour.

"Joining the NCAA was another big step in establishing credibility for women's sports," says Banachowski. "Putting everything under one umbrella just put everyone on the same side." In a physical sense, that umbrella was the J.D. Morgan Center -- a far cry from the trailer of old.

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