The Legacy of Bob Grisham

Shy Yamasaki, Staff Writer

The belltower is saddened to announce that the former athletic director of SMU, Bob Grisham, passed on Sunday, January 22nd, 2023 due to a sudden medical issue. A service will be held at Saint Martin’s University on Saturday, March 11, at 2 p.m. in the Marcus Pavilion. He has served as our athletic director for over 37 years, which he championed as a prominent person for athletics at SMU, the community, and the athletic conference (Saint Martin’s University, 2023). His loss will impact many individuals here at Saint Martin’s University, along with his friends and family. Within his 37 years serving as our athletic director, Bob Grisham also served as head coach of the men’s basketball team for 17 years and 20 years as the women’s golf coach. 

Grisham has left his impact by expanding the athletics program from only having a men’s and women’s basketball team to 15 sports overall. (Saint Martin’s University website, 2023) Between 1988-2008, women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s golf, cross country, soccer, track field, baseball, and softball were added. Bob Grisham also oversaw the transition to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and now SMU’s athletic program is part of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC). (Saint Martin’s University Website, 2023)  

Under Grisham’s leadership, our athletic program has experienced many successes wherever possible on and off the playing field. 

In addition, Saint Martin’s has seen five conference championships, 14 regional appearances, and three national appearances. We saw not only the many accomplishments under Grisham but also many other program achievements, including several All-Academic championships, All-Conference selections, all-Americans, and the first-ever NCAA National Champion in 2016. (Saint Martin’s University Website, 2023)  During the 2022 Hall of Fame/Hall of Honor awards, Grisham shared, “I am proud of what our staff, coaches, and student-athletes have accomplished with their successes in winning athletic and academic awards, honors, and championships. It represents what we’ve been striving for, and that’s raising the bar.” (Saint Martin’s University Website, 2023)  

Grisham also made many outstanding changes to campus as he served as our athletic director. He expanded the campus by adding six different facilities, which included the baseball field, the construction of the first-class soccer field, and an outdoor track with jumping pits and throwing cages. (Saint Martin’s University Website, 2023). The Charneski Recreation Center opened its doors in 2009 with full-sized basketball courts, an indoor track, a dance studio, a classroom, and a full-sized weight room. Just recently, in 2017, he added the tennis courts, replacing the open-field tennis courts. (Saint Martin’s University Website, 2023) At the same time, Bob raised the bar in our community outreach with thousands of hours of our student-athletes serving in our local community.

 Grisham initiated and organized the start of SMU’s Athletics Hall of Fame and Hall of Honor. SMU’s Athletic Department has recognized over 100 players, coaches, teams, and supporters. (Saint Martin’s University Website, 2023) “I’ve been fortunate to be a part of the growth and evolution over the years of Saint Martin’s University and our athletic programs. Most people don’t stay or last with that type of longevity. I am proud of this and proud of our many accomplishments.” – Bob Grisham