Christine Grant, pioneering Iowa women’s athletic director, dies at 85


Christine Grant during the Iowa women’s basketball Celebr-Eight event on April 24, 2019 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa. (Brian Ray/

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Christine Grant, a pioneer in the fight for gender equity in athletics and former University of Iowa women’s athletic director, died Friday at age 85.

Grant, a native of Scotland, played and coached field hockey in her native country and in Canada before coming to the University of Iowa where she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physical education.

In 1973, Grant became Iowa’s first women’s athletic director, a position she held until her retirement in 2000. Iowa’s men’s and women’s athletic departments merged after she retired.

During Grant’s tenure, 12 Hawkeye programs combined to win 27 Big Ten championships. The Iowa women’s basketball team advanced to the 1993 NCAA Final Four. The Iowa field hockey reached the NCAA championship game in 1986 and has a total of 11 Final Four appearances.

Grant was inducted into the University of Iowa Athletics Hall of Fame in 2006.

“I owe Dr. Grant so much,” said Iowa women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder. “She hired me to coach at this university that I love so dearly. More importantly, she gave the opportunity to thousands upon thousands of girls to enjoy and benefit from participating in athletics. Without Dr. Grant’s commitment and efforts to gender equality, girls and women would not be able to experience the benefit of sport the way we know it today.”

Grant was a national voice on issues related to gender equity. She was instrumental in bringing about full implementation of Title IX, the federal legislation passed in 1972 that required equal opportunities for all in college athletics. She was also a founding member of the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women.

In 2007, Grant received the NCAA’s Gerald R. Ford Award, which honors individuals who have provided significant leadership as an advocate for intercollegiate athletics over the course of their career.

“Christine is a pre-eminent and passionate leader who represents an entire class of pioneers that broke through barriers to the benefit of women’s sports,” said the late Myles Brand in 2007, who was the president of the NCAA at the time. “She and others did the heavy lifting that has afforded college women athletes the opportunities they enjoy today, and her courage and character have made her a role model for today’s student-athletes and athletics administrators alike.”

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