BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (November 22, 2022) - Joan Cronan, University of Tennessee Athletic Director Emeritus and a trailblazer for women's college athletics, has been named recipient of the Michael L. Slive Distinguished Service Award, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey announced Tuesday.
The Michael L. Slive Distinguished Service Award is presented on special occasions to former student-athletes, coaches, graduates or administrators of SEC institutions or the conference office who have maintained a lifetime of interest in college athletics and who, over a significant period of time, have exhibited superior leadership qualities and made a significant impact to the betterment of the mission of the Southeastern Conference.
"Joan Cronan's leadership and vision for women's athletics helped build Tennessee into a national brand all while amassing conference and national championships, expanding the budget at UT for the betterment of women's athletics, increasing the annual giving for women's athletics, and increasing women's sports sponsorship," said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. "Joan has left an indelible mark on the SEC through her support of female student-athletes and her work to further the spirit of Title IX. We are pleased to honor Joan Cronan with the Michael L. Slive Distinguished Service Award."
Cronan will be honored during the SEC Legends Celebration on December 2 the night before the SEC Football Championship Game, and also in on-field activities before the SEC title game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 3.
"As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Title IX, I can't think of a more appropriate recipient of the SEC's prestigious Slive Award than Joan Cronan," Tennessee Vice Chancellor/Director of Athletics Danny White said. "Joan's impact on women's intercollegiate athletics-not just at the University of Tennessee, but throughout the SEC and nationally-has been, and continues to be, nothing short of amazing. Her leadership helped shape the Tennessee Lady Vols into a world-renowned brand and the ultimate standard for women's athletics excellence, and we proudly aspire to build upon that extraordinary legacy."
A member of nine Halls of Fame and a pillar of the greater Knoxville community, Cronan served as the Women's Athletics Director from 1983-2012 at the University of Tennessee. She holds the distinction of becoming the first female athletics director for the entire department at Tennessee when she served as Interim Vice Chancellor and Athletics Director in 2011.
Under the vision and direction of Cronan, the Tennessee Lady Vols garnered a reputation as one of the most visible and respected programs in the nation. UT's success in both athletics accomplishments and academic achievement speaks volumes about her decision-making and leadership ability.
Her personal record of service throughout the national athletics landscape is extensive. Cronan was one of the first women to serve on the NCAA's Executive Committee and Management Council and in 2008 she became just the fourth woman to be named president of NACDA, serving in 2008-09. She is a former president of the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators (NACWAA) and was named its AD of the Year in 2005. She also served on the NCAA's Championship Cabinet and Leadership Council.
The Michael L. Slive Distinguished Service Award is named for Mike Slive, commissioner of the SEC from 2002-14. Slive was named the first winner of the award upon his retirement in 2014 and the award was subsequently named in his honor.
Last year the award was given to the members of the Southeastern Conference's Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force, a group of volunteer medical professionals appointed by each of the SEC's member universities who helped provide continuing guidance through the COVID pandemic as the SEC conducted intercollegiate athletics competition during the 2020-21 academic year.
Michael L. Slive Distinguished Service Award
Year - Winner
2014- Michael L. Slive - SEC Commissioner
2017- SEC Pioneers of Integration (Nate Northington, Wilbur Hackett, Houston Hogg, Greg Page - Kentucky Football; Perry Wallace and Godfrey Dillard - Vanderbilt Basketball)
2018 - Archie Manning - Ole Miss Football/Baseball
2021 - SEC Return to Activity & Medical Guidance Task Force