Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Guru local report: Ellen Ryan longtime associate AD retiring from St. Joseph's

By Mel Greenberg

Here's the official announcement. React coming later. - Mel

PHILADELPHIA - Ellen Ryan, the driving force behind the growth of the women's athletics program at Saint Joseph's University, has announced her retirement. Ryan has served in the Saint Joseph's athletic department for the past 37 years, most recently as associate athletic director and senior women's administrator.
"It was a very difficult decision to retire from Saint Joseph's after 37 years. I've seen so many changes over the years in our program," said Ryan. "The completion of the new varsity playing fields at the Maguire Campus for baseball, field hockey and softball will be the culmination of a dream to see all of our student-athletes benefit from on-campus athletic facilities. "
"I have been so blessed to be a part of this University for the last 37 years and I will always be a proud Hawk."
"Ellen's contributions to Saint Joseph's University, the mission of the athletics department and the welfare of our student-athletes are immeasurable. She was our 'first lady' of women's sports after the university went co-educational in the early 1970's," said director of athletics Don DiJulia. "From her start as the first coach in our proud tradition of women's basketball, and the ensuing three-plus decades, Ellen has been an exemplary role model to countless young men and women. Her legacy will forever be as a witness to the Jesuit and Ignatian mission of 'being a person with and for others.'"
Ryan began her career at Saint Joseph's in 1973-74 as head coach of the school's first intercollegiate women's basketball team and guided the Hawks to a 9-2 record.  Ryan's Hawks had the distinction of opening the inaugural season against defending national champion Immaculata College, which was in the midst of capturing three straight national titles.
Following that season, Ryan turned over the coaching reigns to Theresa Grentz and took a year away from Hawk Hill, returning in the fall of 1975 as the coordinator of women's athletics, which was a newly-created position. She also served as the head coach of the women's tennis team in 1976, leading the Hawks to a 12-6 record.
Ryan held the coordinator of women's athletics title for six years before being named assistant athletic director in 1981-82. After 21 years in that role, Ryan was promoted to her current position of associate athletic director for varsity sports, in which she has served for the past nine years.
Under Ryan's guidance, the Saint Joseph's women's athletics program has established a proud tradition and achieved great success. The program has grown from three teams in the early 1970s to the current slate of 10 varsity sports. During her tenure, Ryan has seen SJU's women's teams capture six Atlantic 10 Conference titles and amass a total of 2,091 victories.
The women's basketball program alone has totaled 710 victories and made 11 NCAA Tournament appearances. The Hawks' list of former players and coaches is impressive, and includes three Women's Basketball Hall of Famers - former head coach Theresa Grentz, former assistant Geno Auriemma and former assistant coach and player Muffet McGraw- each of whom Ryan had a hand in hiring.
SJU honored Ryan in 1999 as a member of the inaugural class of the school's Athletics Hall of Fame. She was also inducted into the Big 5 Hall of Fame in 2003 and the SJU Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 1983.
An accomplished athlete, Ryan was a three-time World Basketball Athletic Association All-American and captured a pair of South Jersey Open Tennis championships in the early 1970s.
Originally from the Overbrook section of Philadelphia, she spent 16 years as athletic director and the head coach of four sports at the Country Day School of the Sacred Heart prior to coming to Saint Joseph's. Her brother, Joe Ryan, played basketball at Villanova and is also a member of the Big 5 Hall of Fame.
Ryan's retirement will be effective in August.


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