This past month, my Father, Fred Gruninger was inducted into the Rutgers University Athletics Hall of Fame. Even though he played and coached sports at Rutgers, those weren't the main reasons for his induction. His induction was primarily driven by his leadership and impact as Athletic Director for 25 years. And while this wasn't his first Hall of Fame induction (in 2006 he was inducted into the National Athletic Directors Hall of Fame), it was more significant in that it was a testament to the way he led...with high ethics and focus on what was most important.
Never tire of doing what is right is one of my Top 10 Leadership Beliefs. I truly believe that principle is critical to leading ethically, effectively, and successfully. Making the tough choices and sticking with them-even when many people would prefer you don't-can be difficult and draining. I watched my father do this while he was the Director of Athletics at Rutgers University. His passion was for the student athlete, protecting them and also requiring they act in a way that well represented the University. His determination to support Title IX, leading the way in compliance and also hiring the first full time women's basketball coach in the country. His vision and commitment to bring Rutgers Athletics into "big time athletics" while staying true to NCAA regulations.
In particular, I remember my Dad always doing the right thing with the media. At that time, the media was demanding, as it is in many markets, but in the NJ market, it was at times ruthless. Some sports writers would get frustrated with my father, who wouldn't give them the advanced "scoop," especially when he was getting ready to hire or fire a coach. And often they weren't favorable when they wrote articles about Rutgers. If that bothered him, he never let it show. He just went on with his business and his passion for Rutgers Athletics and supporting the student athlete. This principle was a major reason that he held the position for 25 years.
I am grateful for my Dad's role modeling in this area, and no doubt it significantly contributed to my similar philosophy.