Fred Gruninger Obituary, Death – A visionary leader and former athletic director, Fred Gruninger left an indelible mark on the Rutgers Athletics community during his decades-long tenure. The community mourns his loss. Tragically, Gruninger, Rutgers’ ninth athletic director, passed away at 92 years of age, leaving an immense legacy. Throughout his extraordinary 25-year career as Athletic Director, which he led from 1973 to 1998, Gruninger showed unmatched commitment to the student-athletes.
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An important part of his leadership was making sure they were in an environment that supported them. Rutgers University and the athletic community at large are still feeling the effects of his influence. In a tribute to Gruninger, Rutgers Athletic Director Pat Hobbs recognized his impact on the program and the players’ development as individuals. The Scarlet Knights achieved outstanding progress and triumph in a variety of endeavors while Gruninger was their coach.
Academic services, facility improvements, community engagement, and personal development were some of the areas that Gruninger spearheaded as a champion for student-athlete welfare. Remarkably, he was the department’s go-to guy for expanding women’s athletics and leading the charge to incorporate women’s sports programs. His forward-thinking administration appointed women who have made indelible marks on the sport of women’s basketball, such as Theresa Grentz and C. Vivian Stringer.
There were watershed moments in Rutgers athletic history that occurred during Gruninger’s tenure. His selection of Frank Burns and Tom Young as head football and basketball coaches led the teams to unprecedented heights of success, including trips to the Final Four and bowl games. His impact on facility upgrades and Rutgers’ transition to the Big East Conference is evidence that his commitment went beyond athletics.
Among Gruninger’s lasting contributions to the University Golf Committee are the 35 years he spent there, during which he transformed the Rutgers Golf Course and hosted numerous renowned championships. We will always cherish Fred Gruninger’s lasting influence on Rutgers Athletics and his steadfast dedication to the welfare of student-athletes. His devoted wife Barbara, children, and grandchildren will continue his work in the world after he passes away.