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2024 Hall of Fame Inductee: Dr. Christine Grant

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Continuing this month, USA Field Hockey is celebrating and honoring the 2024 Hall of Fame inductees prior to the celebration, hosted by the U.S. Field Hockey Foundation.

In 2024, two new categories, Coaches and Officials, were added to the Hall of Fame. The Honorary Member category has been retired and replaced with Contributor. Criteria includes participation at the national level, either playing, umpiring, coaching and/or service on national committees for at least 15 years. The legendary Dr. Christine Grant, a tireless advocate for the right of women to participate in sports, is the first Contributor (posthumously) to be inducted into the USA Field Hockey Hall of Fame.

Dr. Christine Grant fought for gender equity her entire career and her contributions to and unwavering support of Title IX were instrumental in its adoption into law. Throughout her lifetime she empowered and inspired multiple generations of female student-athletes, educators, administrators and advocates for women in sport. Her love of field hockey led to the establishment of the intercollegiate team at the University of Iowa, and her constant advocacy was instrumental in the development and maintenance of the sport in both the Big Ten and the Midwest Collegiate Field Hockey Conferences, and in two countries, Canada and the United States.

After an incredible career and life, Dr. Grant passed away on Friday, December 31, 2021, at the age of 85. Following the news, several colleagues publicly expressed their appreciation for Dr. Grant, including former tennis player and women’s sports advocate Billie Jean King.

Dr. Grant’s impact on USA Field Hockey was broad and her unusual meritorious service and legacy spanned over 60 years. Though her work affecting women’s sports began years prior, her greatest impact was felt with her tireless work in support of Title IX – particularly in the first decade of its being passed. Dr. Grant fought fiercely to uphold its preservation in collegiate sports, even when faced with strong opposition. When athletic departments realized Title IX applied to athletics, “all hell broke loose,” Grant memorably said. Throughout the 1970s Grant worked to protect Title IX against the NCAA, which she described in a 2008 video produced by the University of Iowa as the "strongest opponent of Title IX".

While working at the University of Iowa as the athletic director, Dr. Grant was hired by the Office for Civil Rights (then known as the “Office of Equal Rights”) as a consultant to help them write the Title IX regulations around athletics.

“She was definitely on the front lines in shaping the regulations for athletics that came out later in the 70s,” said Amy Wilson, the current Managing Director of Inclusion at the NCAA.

Grant was also heavily involved in the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW), working in a variety of roles – including as its president in 1980. The AIAW served as a parallel to the NCAA by putting an emphasis on athlete welfare and women’s sports, and in 1980 had more member institutions than the NCAA.

“If the AIAW hadn’t existed, I don’t think Title IX’s application to athletics survives in the 1970s,” Wilson said. “They testified in front of Congress. […] They were the leading voices and figures for college sports for women, and that was super important.”

The AIAW was finally forced to cease its existence in 1982, one year after the NCAA narrowly approved the decision to offer Division I women’s championships. But Grant and others who also had pivotal roles in the AIAW history turned around and decided to work to positively influence the NCAA.

“Instead of walking away, we’re going to come to the table, and we’re going to make you include us,” Wilson said of their thought process. “They were on a lot of really key NCAA committees that did make a difference.”

Those committees included the NCAA Special Committee to Review the NCAA Membership Structure, the NCAA Special Committee on Assessing Interests of Female Student-Athletes, and the NCAA Committee on Committees. Dr. Grant became a leader in publishing and speaking about gender equity in sports.

“The rooms were standing-room-only because she was the voice of where progress really was.” Wilson said, commenting on the popularity of Grant’s talks. As part of these talks, Grant would include data to support key points as she continued to advocate for gender equality in sports. And she had a distinct way of letting those numbers sink in.

“She would always end with, ‘Can you believe it?’” said Lisa Bluder, Iowa’s women’s basketball head coach.

Can you believe it?

Today, the excitement and support of women’s sports has grown tenfold. For example, an article put out by the NCAA after the conclusion of this year’s men’s and women’s basketball championships revealed that for the first time in history, the women’s championship game drew more viewers than the men’s, averaging 18.7 million viewers on ABC and ESPN and peaking at 24 million viewers.

With the birth of the new popular phrase “Everyone Watches Women’s Sports”, coined by the company Togethxr, Dr. Christine Grant is undoubtedly smiling with pride, but suggesting there is still more work to be done.

“Dr. Grant was a pioneer for women’s athletics and sport, especially field hockey, and it wouldn’t be where it is today without her willingness to break barriers and determination to push forward,” said Simon Hoskins, USA Field Hockey’s Executive Director. “Dr. Grant has done so much for sport and she is very deserving to be honored in this year’s Hall of Fame class.”

Join us as we celebrate and honor the 2024 Hall of Fame Inductees on Friday, May 24, 2024, at the 2024 Hall of Fame Celebration, hosted by the U.S. Field Hockey Foundation, at The Hyatt Regency Westlake in Westlake Village, Calif. Tickets can be purchased by clicking here. An extended thank you goes to 2024 Hall of Fame sponsors AstroTurf and Beyond Pulse.

Dr. Christine Grant’s Accomplishments:

  • 2024 USA Field Hockey Hall of Fame Inductee
  • 2019 Christine Grant Elementary School Dedication (North Liberty, IA)
  • 2017 Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee
  • 2013 National Field Hockey Coaches Association Hall of Fame Inductee
  • 2008 National Association of Collegiate Athletics’ Directors Hall of Fame Inductee
  • 2007 NCAA Presidents’ Gerald R. Ford Award Recipient
  • 2007 Named as one of the 100 Most Influential Sports Educators in America by the Institute of International Sport
  • 2006 University of Iowa Athletics Hall of Fame Induction
  • 1998 NCAA Honda Award of Merit Honoree for Outstanding Achievement in Women’s Collegiate Athletics
  • 1998 NAGWS “Pathfinder” Award (Iowa)
  • 1998 University of Iowa Jean Jew Women’s Rights Award
  • 1996 NAGWS Honor Award
  • 1995 Women’s Sport Foundation Billie Jean King Contribution Award
  • 1993 NACWAA National Administrator of the Year Honoree
  • 1993 NAGWS “Pathfinder” Award (Iowa)
  • 1992 WBCA National Administrator of the Year Honoree
  • 1991 Iowa Field Hockey Field renamed Christine H.B. Grant Field (rededicated in 2006)
  • 1987-89 National Association of Collegiate Women’s Athletic Administrators—President Chaired the Committee on Gender Equity
  • 1984-87 National Association of Collegiate Women’s Athletic Administrators—Board of Directors
  • 1985 Iowa establishes NCAA Women’s Basketball Attendance record—22,157
  • 1979-1982 Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW)—President Elect, President and Past President
  • 1978 Named as Consultant to the Office of Civil Rights Title IX Taskforce Committee
  • 1973-2000 Women’s Athletic Director, University of Iowa-oversaw 12 women’s teams including starting the Field Hockey Team at Iowa. Team accomplishments during her tenure:
    • 1 National Championship (Field Hockey)
    • 4 Softball World Series trips
    • 11 Final Fours (BB-1, FH-11)
    • 27 Big Ten Titles
  • 1973 Founding Member, Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) Member, United States Field Hockey Board of Directors
  • 1970 Ontario Sports Award—Outstanding Contributions to Canadian Amateur Sport Honoree
  • 1962 1st Coach/Manager of the Canadian Women’s National Field Hockey Team
  • 1962 Founding member of the Canadian Field Hockey Association