KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – University of Tennessee Athletics Director Emeritus Joan Cronan and former graduate assistant Beth Bass were among seven women inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday night at the Tennessee Theatre.
Members of the Class of 2019 include Bass, Cronan, Nora Lynn Finch, Ticha Penicheiro, Ruth Riley, Carolyn Bush Roddy and Valerie Still. They were awarded their coveted Eastman Trophy and Baron Championship induction rings.
Cronan was the highly-respected, long-time women’s athletics director at Tennessee before her retirement, while Bass began her career as a graduate assistant in the UT women’s athletics department.
Fourteen Hall of Fame inductees have ties to Tennessee. They include coaches Pat Summitt and Mickie DeMoss, administrator Gloria Ray and players Cindy Noble Hauserman, Patricia Roberts, Holly Warlick, Cindy Brogdon, Daedra Charles-Furlow, Bridgette Gordon, Jill Rankin Schneider, Nikki McCray and Chamique Holdsclaw.
Under Cronan, the UT Lady Vols became one of the highest profile and respected athletics departments in college sports.
Cronan grew up in Opelousas, La., graduated from LSU and arrived in Knoxville in 1968 to teach and coach women’s basketball.
She became women’s athletics director in 1983 and expanded the program from seven to 11 sports, and helped the department increase annual giving from $75,000 to more than $2 million annually.
During her 29-year tenure, Tennessee women’s teams won 10 NCAA Championships, 22 SEC regular season titles and 33 league tourney trophies, finishing first or second in the SEC All-Sports Award race six times.
During Bass’ career, she most notably served as the CEO of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association from 2001-14. She assisted in the 2007 launch of the WBCA’s “Think Pink” campaign in support of the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. In 2004, Bass was the recipient of the President’s Award from the National Association of Girls and Women in Sport.
The WBCA Board of Directors hired Bass after a successful career in the sports and fitness industry. With experience as a women’s basketball and women’s sports marketing executive at Converse Inc. and NIKE, Inc., Bass was instrumental in growing corporate support of women’s basketball for more than 10 years.
At NIKE, Bass specialized in the firm’s women’s basketball sports marketing endeavors, including coaching endorsements, the WBCA Girls’ High School All-America Game, the inaugural Nike Girls All-America Camp and the Coaches’ Extravaganza at the WBCA National Convention. Prior to NIKE, Bass served as National Sports Marketing Director at Converse from 1986 through 1995, during which time she cultivated Converse’s women’s basketball marketing endeavors including the renowned Converse/WBCA Coach of the Year Award.
After graduating in 1984 from East Tennessee State University, Bass came to graduate school at the University of Tennessee. She was a graduate assistant for marketing and promotions in the Lady Volunteers athletic department and completed her master’s degree in recreation administration in 1986.