Knoxville, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Congratulations to East Tennessee sports leaders Joan Cronan and Bill Schmidt. They are among six honorees named to the 2014 class of The Champions: Pioneers & Innovators in Sports Business.
The Lady Vols Athletics Director Emeritus, Cronan served as the executive in charge of arguably the most successful women's athletic department in college sports history. Serving as Lady Vols AD for some 30 years, Cronan oversaw the growth of women's athletics at Tennessee to include 11 sports. She more than quadrupled the departments budget. And under her leadership, the various Lady Vol sports accumulated 10 national titles and 29 conference championships.
Bill Schmidt is the first Olympic athlete honored in such a way. His career in business has been quite unique and interesting. Schmidt was the head of Gatorade sports marketing in the 1980's and '90's, signing Michael Jordan to the brand. He also served as vice president of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and director of the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville. Schmidt, who currently owns his own consulting agency, won the bronze medal in the javelin throw at the 1972 Munich Olympics. In fact he's the last American to medal in the event.
Also included as honorees this year are Wayne Embry, NASCAR owner Rick Hendrick, Michael Ilitch and CBS announcer Verne Lundquist. SportsBusiness Journal/Daily will profile each honoree in separate issues beginning January 27th.