Holly Rowe interviews Caitlin Clark after the Iowa Hawkeyes star became all-time scoring leader . Credit: ESPN

When it comes to women’s college basketball coverage, Holly Rowe’s contributions are as significant as anyone in the sport.

And even she didn’t see this ratings bonanza for ESPN — which took place during the Final Four, National Championship game, and 2024 tournament — coming. Few people did. In fact, Rowe admitted to her son and co-host on the Call Your Mom podcast that she never thought she’d see the day.

“Women’s March Madness out-rated men’s March Madness,” Rowe said. “This is one of the most historical things ever. So, 18.9 million people watched the women’s NCAA championship game with South Carolina and Iowa. 14-something million watched the men’s game with Purdue and Connecticut. And I just never thought I’d see this day. I mean, I’ve been covering women’s college basketball for 30 years, and I never thought I’d see this day.”

Rowe admitted that the women’s college game has become a “national phenomenon” in part due to Caitlin Clark and Dawn Staley. And it’s important to Rowe because the very first person she covered and fell in love with as a player was the South Carolina head coach.

“When I got out of college, I went to New York City and did an internship at CBS Sports,” explained Rowe. “And one of my first jobs was, I would have to watch the games back and I would have to check off the advertising elements … and so I started watching Virginia basketball. And this was like 1991, ’92 era, I think, and I was just like I’ve never seen a woman play like this before. Literally, she blew me away.”

Rowe has closely followed Staley’s coaching journey, from her Olympic days to the WNBA’s Charlotte Sting, Temple, and now South Carolina.

“So, to be able to be there and be the one getting to present the trophy to her; sometimes it’s all I can do not to get choked up on the stage because it’s just the journey of my basketball-loving life and I get to be the one giving her the trophy,” explained Rowe. “It’s just really cool. And she did one thing on the stand … I’m done and we’re about ready to put this big bow on it … and she’s like, ‘Can I say one more thing?’ And I’m like, ‘Of course, you do whatever you want. You’re Dawn Staley. And she did this shoutout to Caitlin Clark … and she just understands all the pressure that Caitlin was under this season and how she handled that.”

“I literally, if they zoom out, you could see my face start to ugly cry,” added Rowe. It was just this really beautiful moment of women competing against each other and supporting each other in this really beautiful way, so that was cool.

With record ratings and iconic moments like this, the future of women’s college basketball is undeniably bright. Rowe, who’s witnessed its growth firsthand, is undoubtedly brimming with excitement about what the sport’s future holds.

[Call Your Mom]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.