Distinguished Alumni 2001
Mary Roland Griffin
Mary Roland Griffin, better known as “Red” during her Winthrop days, participated on all the sports teams at Winthrop and held a number of class and Sigma Gamma Nu offices. She was a member of the Winthrop Senate and served as president of the Winthrop Recreation Association (WRA) which was a student run organization. She was a member of Senior Order and received the Hellams award in physical education.
After graduating from Winthrop, she taught in public school and became director and co-owner of a summer camp in Virginia. She returned to academia and completed both master’s and doctoral degrees at Louisiana State University. She returned to Winthrop in 1966 and taught physical education and served as department chair prior to her retirement. She was named Professor Emerita and Athletic Director Emerita, a title bestowed upon her as a result of her service as Winthrop’s first athletic director. The Winthrop men’s sports program was initiated under her leadership as athletic director.
She served in every leadership position at Winthrop including Chair of the Graduate faculty and Faculty Marshal. She coached women’s basketball and still holds the record for most wins and the architect of Winthrop’s only 20 game winning season.
She served as a member of the founding committee of the South Carolina Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women and served as state president, regional president and a member of the national board. She held leadership positions in the South Carolina Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, & Dance, the Southern Academy for Women in Physical Activity, Sport, & Health, and the Officiating Services Organization.
Honors include recognition by the Governor of South Carolina as a pioneer in women’s sports, the Pathfinder Award from the National Association for Girls and Women’s Sports, and the NAGWS Honor Fellow, the highest award given by that organization.
The Winthrop University Mary Roland Griffin Award in Athletics is given to the female athlete with the highest gpa and the Winthrop University Mary Roland Griffin Award for graduate study in physical education is given to the outstanding graduate student in the Master of Science program in physical education.