Now in her 25th year at the University of Tennessee, Joan Cronan is Women’s Athletic Director for one of the most visible and respected programs in the country. She strives not only to keep UT at the top in the nation, but also to improve women’s athletics on a local, regional and national level. Cronan, a graduate of LSU, earned her B.S. in 1966 and her M.S. in 1968, both in physical education. She served a two-year stint at Tennessee from 1968 to 1970.
In 1969, she led the women’s basketball team to an alternate berth in the first-ever National Invitational Collegiate Basketball Tournament. She served as the athletics director at the College of Charleston in South Carolina for 10 years and was later inducted into that institution’s Hall of Fame. Under Cronan, the school was selected as the No. 1 women’s athletics program in the country in 1980 by the American Women’s Sports Foundation.
Cronan returned to the University of Tennessee in 1983. Under her direction, the women’s teams (in 23 years) had a cumulative record of 6,293-2,825-52 and a .689 winning percentage. Her teams have won seven NCAA titles, 37 Top-five NCAA finishes, 66 Top-10 NCAA finishes, 25 SEC Regular-Season Crowns and 18 SEC Tournament Championships. In 2006-2007, the Lady Vols ranked in the top 10 of Sports Academy Directors’ Cup Standings. The Lady Vols captured three of the last four SEC Women’s All- Sports Crowns and all 11 teams in the UT women’s Athletics Department advanced to their respective NCAA Championships – the third time the Lady Vols have accomplished this feat in as many years.
During 2006-2007, 228 student-athletes competed as Lady Vols on 11 teams and a remarkable 60 percent of this group earned academic honors. Twenty-two women earned Academic All-America awards. Cronan has earned many prestigious honors and awards.
In 1990, she was inducted to the Charleston Hall of Fame, in 1995 to the LSU Alumni Hall of Distinction, and in 2003 to the FCA Hall of Champions. Also in 1995, she was named the NACWAA Regional Athletic Director of the Year and then in 2005 was named NACWAA Athletic Director of the Year. Cronan has served as the president of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and continues to be a member of the Board of Directors in addition to her many positions on various boards and committees. In 2017, Joan was named the first recipient of the NCAA President’s Pat Summitt Award.
Joan Cronan, the former Lady Vols Athletic Director has spent thirty years with Tennessee Athletics. In that time, the Lady Vols have become one of the most visible and well-respected programs in the country, amassing ten NCAA national championship titles, forty-six top-five NCAA finishes, and twenty-nine Southeastern Conference regular-season championships.
“She has led with humility and grace and demands excellence from everybody that works with her,” said University of Tennessee Chancellor, Jimmy Cheek. “She’s built a powerhouse of a program that also graduates and educates young ladies.”