Saints Athletic Director Bob Grisham to retire this year
December 8, 2021

LACEY, Wash. – After serving 37 years as Saint Martin’s University’s athletic director, including 17 years as the head men’s basketball coach and 20 years as the women’s golf coach, Bob Grisham has announced that he will be retiring at the end of the current school year, June 2022.

“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,” shared Grisham. “Most people don’t stay or last with that type of longevity. I am proud of this and proud of our many accomplishments.”

Expanding the program

Grisham was hired to be the Saint Martin’s athletic director as well as the head men’s basketball coach in 1985. During his tenure, he helped Saint Martin’s expand its program offerings from two, men’s and women’s basketball, to 15 sports overall:

  • Women’s volleyball was added in 1988;
  • Men’s and women’s golf were renewed in 1989;
  • Men’s and women’s cross country in 1996;
  • Baseball and softball in 1998; and
  • Men’s and women’s soccer and track and field in 2008.

In 1998, Grisham oversaw the then college’s transition to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) membership. Today, the Saint Martin’s athletic program is part of Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) with over 250 NCAA Division II student athletes. 

“Bob leaves a legacy of growth and change that will never be repeated again,” shared Saint Martin’s University President Roy Heynderickx, Ph.D. “He is known throughout the region as a coach, athletic director, and friend. And he is admired by all for his lengthy, exemplary career here at Saint Martin’s. We wish him the best in his retirement.”

Success on and off the playing field

Under Grisham’s leadership, the Saints have experienced historic success both on and off the court, the field, and the course. During his 37 years, Saint Martin’s has seen five conference championships, 14 regional appearances, and three national appearances. Additional program achievements include several All-Academic championships, All-Conference selections, All-Americans, and to Saint Martin’s first ever NCAA National Champion in 2016 (Mikel Smith, track and field).

As a coach, Grisham helped contribute to those successes, coaching the Saints’ men’s basketball team for from 1985 until 2001. At the helm, he accumulated the most wins in school history at 214, highlighted by back-to-back 23-win seasons in 1991-93. Grisham was named the NAIA District 8 Coach of the Year in 1993.

After stepping down as the men’s basketball coach in 2001, he transitioned into the role of head coach for women’s golf. Over the past 20 years, women’s golf has had a conference champion and reached the West Regional championship in 2009, where the team placed third overall.

Changing the campus landscape

As athletic director, Grisham helped Saint Martin’s expand its facilities with the construction and additions to six facilities, including the baseball field, construction of a first-class soccer grass field, and outdoor track with jumping pits and throwing cages. In 2009, the Charneski Recreation Center opened its doors with three full-sized basketball courts; an indoor running track; a state-of-the-art fitness facility with full sized weight room; a dance studio, and a classroom, serving both athletes and students. Most recently covered tennis courts, replacing the open field tennis courts, were built in 2017.

Grisham also played a major role in the renovations within the program’s flagship facility, the Hal and Inge Marcus Pavilion, with locker rooms, office space, and a full-sized training room added-on. These renovations transformed the home of the Saints into a well-renowned athletic facility throughout the Pacific Northwest. 

Saints in the community

In addition to the athletic and academic success, Grisham has helped the department “raise the bar” with community outreach. “It was always a goal and priority to have our athletes and coaches be partners in our community. Whether through service, competitions, or camps, it was important to have a positive impact,” said Grisham. Thousands of hours of volunteer and community service have been performed by Saints’ student-athletes. 

Lastly, Grisham initiated and organized the start of the university’s Athletics Hall of Fame and Hall of Honor. To date, over 100 players, coaches, teams, and supporters have been recognized by the Saint Martin’s athletic department.

“For me the friendships and relationships that have been developed along the way have been a rewarding part of this position. I can walk away feeling good knowing where we were, when I started, and where we are now,” Grisham said.

As he plans for retirement, Grisham looks forward to spending time with his two daughters: Nicole, a 2015 Saint Martin’s graduate, teaches first grade in Orting, Washington, and Taylor, a 2019 Pepperdine graduate, who works for the Fiction Tribe, a creative agency in Portland, Oregon.

Saint Martin’s will form a search committee in the coming weeks before beginning a national search for its next athletic director in February.

In the meantime, if you have photos with or stories about Grisham from over the years, please share them with Austin Byrnes, sports information director, at Saint Martin’s will celebrate Grisham during this year’s Homecoming Weekend, scheduled for February 4-6, 2022. More information for Homecoming Weekend will be shared in the coming weeks.

Saint Martin’s University is an independent coeducational university, with undergraduate and graduate offerings, located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 13 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 29 majors, 11 master’s programs, one doctorate program and seven certificate programs spanning the arts and sciences, business, counseling, education, engineering, nursing and leadership. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,300 undergraduate students and 250 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and more students to its extended campus located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

For more infomation:

Genevieve Chan
Vice President, Marketing and Communications

Austin Byrnes
Sports Information Director