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.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Guru College Report: Renie Shields Becomes St. Joseph's Associate AD

By Mel Greenberg

Former St. Joseph's basketball star Renie Shields has become the third former women's basketball player with local connections to assume a major job in a member athletic department of the Philadelphia Big Five.

The university announced Wednesday that the former Hawks star has been promoted to associate director of athletics at her alma mater, replacing Ellen Ryan, who retired from the position this summer after 37 years on Hawk Hill.

Next Friday, St. Joseph's will have ceremonies prior to a field hockey game with Temple to mark the naming of the new field hockey facility on campus after Ryan, who also was the first women's basketball coach.

One of Ryan's players was Muffet McGraw, now the longtime and successful coach at Notre Dame who was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn., last June. She is also in the Big Five Hall of Fame as is Shields.

Shields will also serve as Senior Women's Adminiatrator, as did Ryan, and will continue in her current role as director of compliance, according to athletic director Don DiJulia, who made the announcement.

She has served in that capacity the past 13 years and previously had been compliance coordinator from 1993 to 1998, according to the university's announcement.

When Shields was a freshman back in the earlier 1980s, the Hawks had just hired current Ohio State coach Jim Foster to succeeded former Immaculata star Rene Portland, who had left for Colorado before becoming a longtime coach at Penn State.

One of his assistants when Shields was a freshman was Foster's good friend Geno Auriemma, a Naismith and Women's Basketball Hall of Famer for his work in building the University of Connecticut into a national power.

Auriemma is also the coach of the USA Olympic team for next summer's games in London and is currently leading a group of hopefuls to make the squad on an exhibition tour through Italy, Czechoslovakia and Hungary.

"Renie's long standing tenure on Hawk Hill will make it an easy transition for this Hall of Famer," DiJulia said in a statement.

Temple's Kristen Foley and Villanova's Lynn Tighe, at her alma mater, who have similar roles to Shields' new positions, are also former basketball stars. Foley played at Rutgers for former Immaculata star Theresa Grentz, whose coaching career began at St. Joseph's.

Like Auriemma, Grentz is also a former notable with St. Joseph's connections who became an Olympic coach, being in charge of the bronze medal winners in 1992 when Foster, who had moved to Vanderbilt, was one of her assistants, as was current WNBA Indiana Fever coach Lin Dunn.

Additionally, Penn's Mary DiStanislao, who also has a role similar to Shields, was an assistant to Hall of Famer Cathy Rush at Immaculata and was head coach at Northwestern and the first women's basketball coach at Notre Dame, when the Irish upgraded to Division I. Digger Phelps was the AD at the time of the hire.

Shields, whose premarital last name was Dunne, also played cross country and softball for the Hawks, and was a three-time All-Big 5 honoree besides her induction into the Big Five Hall of Fame in 1991 and into St. Joseph's Athletics Hall of Fame in 2001.

After graduating in 1982, Shields later became an assistant to Foster in 1987 and remained in the job until 1993 after he left. She will continue yet another of her many duties, spending her 19th season this winter as the color analyst for St. Joseph's women's basketball broadcasts, which in recent times have been primarily carried by the university at its website on the internet.

One of her daughters, Erin, plays for the Hawks and was one of the top freshmen in the Big Five last season and also starred in the Philadelphia/Suburban NCAA Women's Basketball Summer League in Hatboro the last two summers.

An older daughter Kerri plays at Boston College. The two sisters, who are graduates of Archbishop Carroll, met for the first time last season as opponents when the Hawks advanced against the Eagles in a second-round WNIT Game at Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

A second meeting will occur this winter when Boston College visits Hawk Hill in late December.

-- Mel

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