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Editor’s note: This is 47th in a series counting down the Top 50 moments in Iowa Hawkeyes women’s athletics history in the 50 days leading up to the 50th anniversary of Title IX in June.
Christine Grant initially wasn’t planning on staying long in Iowa City.
“I fully intended to go back to Canada,” Grant said in a 1992 video for the Iowa City Public Library.
But she had a big reason to stay, at least for a little while, after what happened in 1973.
University of Iowa’s president at the time, Sandy Boyd elevated 12 women’s sports from club level to intercollegiate status and hired Grant as Iowa’s first women’s athletics director.
The addition of 12 new intercollegiate sports occurred with minimal cuts to men’s sports. Gymnastics and golf were the only two on the chopping block, and Iowa later reinstated those sports.
“There was a great fear among many in men’s athletics that Title IX was going to destroy men’s athletics,” Grant said in the University of Iowa’s Women at Iowa video series. “That was a myth that went around the entire country. I thought it was very important right from the word ‘go’ to show my great support for men’s sports.”
Rather than adding the women’s teams to the existing athletics department that had previously only overseen men’s teams — a common move after Title IX — Boyd created a separate women’s athletics department.
While Grant’s department was separate from the men’s department, Grant and men’s AD Bump Elliott “were so very close” and “had a tremendous amount of respect for each other,” said Paula Jantz, who worked with Grant in the women’s department.
The support from Boyd and Elliott “mattered a whole lot,” NCAA managing director of inclusion Amy Wilson said, although Grant and Elliott didn’t necessarily agree on everything.
“We could not get our teams into the field house to practice in 1973,” Grant said in the 2008 video. “The only facility we really had was Halsey Hall, which was tiny.”
The first Iowa women’s athletics budget was $30,000 — when adjusted for inflation, slightly below $200,000.
Even after Boyd’s 1973 offer, Iowa City didn’t seem like a permanent home to Grant.
“I hadn’t completed my dissertation, so I thought, ‘Well, I’ll do this for a year and maybe a couple of years and get the program on its feet,’” Grant said.
Instead, she served as women’s athletics director for 27 years and oversaw 27 Big Ten titles. Even after retiring, she frequented field hockey games, sitting in the front row of the bleachers.
“She’s an icon,” Iowa women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder said.
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