PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Rutgers Athletics remembers former athletic director Fred Gruninger, who passed away Friday at the age of 92. Gruninger was the ninth athletic director in Rutgers history, serving as an administrator and coach during his 40-year career ‘On the Banks.’
Gruninger spent 25 years as the Rutgers Athletic Director from 1973 through 1998. A member of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) Hall of Fame, Gruninger was inducted into the Rutgers Athletics Hall of Fame in 2019.
“Our Rutgers Athletics community is saddened to hear of the passing of Fred Gruninger,” said Rutgers Athletic Director Pat Hobbs. “Fred was dedicated to the service of student-athletes and he made it his mission to foster an environment that supported their well-being. Fred was an inspiration to many who knew him and his accomplishments in this profession continue to be felt to this day. On behalf of Rutgers University and our athletic department, I express our deepest condolences to Fred’s family and friends. He will truly be missed.”
In addition to guiding the Scarlet Knights through a period of substantial growth and achievement, the New Jersey native was a champion of student-athlete well-being and spearheaded initiatives to enhance their personal growth. Gruninger’s focus upon the student-athlete as the most vital member of the athletics division led to the advancement of a variety of programs, including academic services, facilities, community involvement and personal development. He also created the Scarlet R Club, a branch of annual giving to benefit student-athletes and the athletics program.
Gruninger shepherded the University through its compliance with Title IX, as he oversaw the integration of women’s sports programs which competed for Douglass College at the time. He enacted a three-year plan, bringing five women’s programs under the Athletic Department umbrella annually to sponsor 15 women’s sports within three years. The nation’s first full-time women’s basketball coach, Theresa Grentz, was hired by Gruninger in 1976. Grentz went on to lead the Scarlet Knights to the 1982 AIAW Championship. Gruninger also hired C. Vivian Stringer, who guided the program to a pair of Final Four appearances and 17 NCAA Tournaments.
Gruninger tabbed Tom Young to lead the men’s basketball…