Press Release


UT’s Athletic Director Emeritus Joan Cronan to be Inducted into
SHAPE America’s Hall of Fame

RESTON, VA, February 8, 2018 — SHAPE America – Society of Health and Physical Educators announced today that Joan Cronan, athletic director emeritus for the University of Tennessee, will be inducted into the organization’s Hall of Fame on Friday, March 23, during its 133rd National Convention & Expo in Nashville.

Cronan will be honored during the Hall of Fame Banquet, during which SHAPE America will also recognize its National Physical Education Teachers of the Year for elementary, middle and high school and National Teachers of the Year for adapted physical education, dance and health. The banquet is sponsored by Sportime, featuring SPARK, a category of School Specialty, Inc., and Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

SHAPE America’s Hall of Fame awards are given to honor outstanding individuals who 1) make significant contributions to maintaining sport, physical education and physical activity as an integral part of the total education program; 2) further the image of sport and healthy physical activity for all; 3) accentuate the integral relationships of sport, motor development and physical activity to the total educational process; 4) encourage involvement in meaningful competitive sport or physical activity programs by influential educators and citizens in all walks of life; and 5) symbolize the educational and developmental potentials of physical education and sport.

Past Hall of Fame inductees include golfer Annika Sorenstam; University of Tennessee Women’s Basketball Coach Pat Summitt; tennis greats Billie Jean King and Arthur Ashe; NFL Hall of Famers Nick Buoniconti and Anthony Munoz; sports columnist Christine Brennan, and Olympians Tony DiCicco, Dick Fosbury, Rulon Gardner, Nancy Hogshead, Dan Jansen, Rafer Johnson, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Carl Lewis, Shannon Miller, Edwin Moses, Dot Richardson, Wilma Rudolph and Peter Vidmar.

“Over her three- decade athletic director career, Joan Cronan built and maintained one of the premiere athletic programs in the country,” says SHAPE America President Fran Cleland of West Chester University. “Under Joan’s leadership and management, the University of Tennessee’s women’s athletic program enjoyed a long and well-deserved reputation for integrity and success.” During her tenure Cronan expanded the UT women’s program from seven to 11 sports and led an academic initiative which has resulted in a 98% graduate rate as well as a community service component to integrate athletic life with civic responsibility. In addition, she instituted an Endowment Scholarship Program. She is also the author of the book Sport is Life with the Volume Turned Up: Lessons Learned that Apply to Business and Life.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam says, “It has been my privilege to observe Joan’s leadership skills and to work alongside her in numerous civic endeavors over the years. To put it simply, Joan is a type of person who gets things done because people want to do things with her.”

Washington Post best-selling-author and columnist Sally Jenkins says, “Joan and Pat Summitt were what I call ‘glass cutters’ in building the Tennessee women’s athletic program. They did not break the glass ceiling; they carefully carved their way through.”

Cronan earned undergraduate and master's degrees from Louisiana State University. She is a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, LSU Alumni Hall of Distinction, The College of Charleston Hall of Fame and the Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame. In addition, Cronan was named the first recipient of the NCAA Pat Summitt award in 2016; NACWAA Lifetime Achievement Award, YWCA Lifetime Achievement award and the Boys & Girls Club Gift of Hope. In addition to having a street by the name of Joan Cronan Way, the Joan Cronan Volleyball Center at the University of Tennessee is named in her honor.

This coming June Cronan will be inducted into the National Association of Collegiate Athletic Directors (NACDA) Hall of Fame. At that time she will also be presented with The James J. Corbett Memorial Award which is given annually by the NACDA "to the collegiate administrator who through the years has most typified Corbett's devotion to intercollegiate athletics and worked unceasingly for its betterment." The award is named after former Louisiana State University athletics director and first president of the NACDA, James J. Corbett. It has been presented annually since 1967.

Cronan’s late husband Tom served as a professor of Exercise Physiology at Carson-Newman College for almost 20 years. During his distinguished career, he received the Tennessee Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (TAHPERD) Honor Award for Excellence and Service in the Professions of Health and Physical Education as well as the Life Fellow Award, the highest of all state awards.

Cronan is currently working with the Tennessee Legislature to pass the Tom Cronan Physical Education Act, which would require physical education programs in K-12 schools across the state.

She has two daughters, Kristi Benner and Stacey Bristow, three grandsons, Chase and Reed Bristow, and Quinn Benner, and granddaughters Reese Benner and Larkin Bristow.

For more information about the SHAPE America National Convention & Expo, visit and follow #SHAPENashville.


About SHAPE America
SHAPE America - Society of Health and Physical Educators is committed to ensuring all children have the opportunity to lead healthy, physically active lives. As the nation's largest membership organization of health and physical education professionals, SHAPE America works with its 50 state affiliates and national partners to support initiatives such as the Presidential Youth Fitness Program, Let's Move! Active Schools and the Jump Rope For Heart/Hoops For Heart programs.

Since its founding in 1885, the organization has defined excellence in physical education, and our resources provide the leadership, professional development and advocacy that support health and physical educators at every level - from preschool to university graduate programs. For more information, visit

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