WASHINGTON, D.C. – Former University of Tennessee Women’s Athletics Director Joan Cronan is being honored Friday at the 2018 National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) & Affiliates Convention at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Washington, D.C.
Cronan, who also served as NACDA president in 2008-09, has been selected as the recipient of the 52nd James J. Corbett Memorial Award, the highest honor one can achieve in collegiate athletics administration. She will be recognized at the James J. Corbett Awards Luncheon sponsored by Under Armour.
“Joan has been in the front row of every leadership position within NACDA during her time on campus and still is today in her retirement, as she is a familiar face at many of our annual meetings,” said NACDA Executive Director Bob Vecchione. “Throughout her illustrious career, the Association has grown and prospered. This is evident in that we are expecting more than 7,000 attendees at our 53rd Convention in Washington, D.C. This year after just four months, 29 women were hired as athletics directors across the country, and that is due in large part to the path that Joan paved for women in sport. I am proud of her peers for recognizing her with this prestigious award.”
The Corbett Award is presented annually to the collegiate administrator who “through the years has most typified Corbett’s devotion to intercollegiate athletics and worked unceasingly for its betterment.” Corbett, athletics director at Louisiana State University, was NACDA’s first president in 1965. Additionally, Cronan will receive an honorary degree from the Sports Management Institute (SMI), an educational institute sponsored by NACDA and the universities of Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Southern California and Texas, and automatic induction into the NACDA Hall of Fame.
Cronan is the first female to receive the Corbett award since 2010 (Barbara Hedges, University of Washington) and the only recipient to graduate from LSU, the institution where the Corbett name became synonymous with the highest levels of success in athletics administration.
“Receiving the Corbett award and being honored by your peers is so very special and humbling,” said Cronan. “So many people helped and supported me along the way, it is difficult to name just a few. I hope I can give back in a similar way to those who are just beginning in this industry. NACDA has played a critical part in my professional and personal life. I have often said, ‘A leader is a person with a vision AND a sphere of influence to make it happen.’ NACDA increases all of our spheres of influence.”
Taking over as women’s athletics director at UT in 1983, she gradually expanded the program from seven to 11 sports, and helped increase annual giving to support women’s athletics from $75,000 to more than $2 million per year. During her 29-year tenure (1983-2012), UT won 10 NCAA Championships, 22 SEC regular season titles and 33 league tourney trophies, finishing first or second in the SEC All-Sports Award race six times.
The success by Lady Vol teams was matched by an expectation for excellence in the classroom and a philosophy of giving back to the community. A history-maker and member of several halls of fame, she holds the distinction of becoming the first female athletics director for the entire department at UT when she served as Interim Vice Chancellor and Athletics Director in 2011.