December 12, 2021
Megan Kahn is ready to elevate Big Ten women’s basketball
Kahn joins the Big Ten when women's basketball is arguably at its peak on the court but needs a bigger spotlight
Megan Kahn is no stranger to the mania that is Big Ten sports.
Growing up in Newton, Iowa, Kahn and her family would make the 80-minute drive to Iowa City to watch Hawkeye football and basketball. As season ticket holders, they would watch every game on the men’s side at a time when women’s sports weren’t given the same platform.
“I can probably recount more men’s basketball players from that day and age versus women’s basketball because when when I was younger, women’s basketball wasn’t on TV,” said Kahn. “It was rare.”
Now the first vice president of Big Ten women’s basketball, Kahn is in the driver’s seat to put the conference’s women’s hoops teams in front of as many eyes as possible.
The Big Ten’s commissioner, Kevin Warren, announced in October the conference’s desire to find someone to occupy a new role that would broaden the digital footprint of its women’s basketball programs. Kahn caught wind of the position in its incipient stages, and Warren reached out to her to see if she fit the bill.
“Commissioner Warren made it very clear this could be one of the most important hires he has ever made,” said Kahn. “I understand the expectations that come along with [the position]. I made it very known what my big vision [is] for where I think the league can go as a whole.”
On Nov. 18, the Big Ten announced it was hiring Kahn.
Kahn comes in at a time when Big Ten women’s basketball is arguably at its peak. There are currently five teams in the Associated Press’s top-25 rankings. If the season ended today, that would be tied for the most Big Ten programs to end the year in the top 25 in the last decade.
While the product itself is beyond viable, the business end is where Kahn comes in. She doesn’t want to give away “all of her secrets” but has a plan for adjusting the spotlight so it shines brightly on women’s hoops. This ranges from getting programs to be more active on social media to improving the fan experience.
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“Take Iowa, for example. They are used to playing in front of 7,000 to 10,000 fans since they [are] perennially in the top ten in attendance every year,” said Kahn. “But then they get to a tournament and there are 1,500-2,500 fans. That’s not great for the student-athletes, but we also want people to come to the site of the tournament, wherever that location is, and be a part of it every single year.”
If anyone can spruce up these events, it’s Kahn. When she was the Atlantic 10’s assistant commissioner, she oversaw the men’s tournaments and studied how those above her ran the day-to-day operations. Kahn also had the chance to oversee the women’s Final Four in 2015 and 2019.
However, the work Kahn has put in outside of basketball is what should make Big Ten women’s hoops fans excited for the new era she is ushering in. As the CEO of WeCOACH, an organization created to provide resources for women’s coaches, Kahn helped spearhead a partnership between WeCOACH and a company called Hudl. Together, they have hosted a Breakthrough Summit that features some of the greatest women leaders around the United States. They are hosting their third summit on Dec. 14 that will include speakers such as WNBA legend Becky Hammon; Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer; the 66th Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleezza Rice; and Sam Rapaport, who is the NFL’s senior director of diversity, equity and inclusion.
“These are women who are trailblazers,” said Kahn.
Because she will be busy with the Breakthrough Summit, Kahn won’t officially hit the ground running until Dec. 20. However, she is planning to visit each Big Ten campus once she does take on the new role and start to lay out the vision she has for the conference before short-term change can be executed.
“We realize this is a marathon, not a sprint,” said Kahn. “We are going to be really intentional about how we roll out some of these ideas and take the time to make sure we do it right.”