Dr. Mary Roby

Dr. Mary Roby

Sports pioneer Dr. Mary Roby, who was one of the first women to serve on the United States Sports Academy’s Board of Trustees, died recently at the age of 85.

“She was a visionary in women’s sports and had a significant impact,” says Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich, the Academy’s president and CEO. “Her service on our Board of Trustees was most impressive and she will be missed by all.”

Roby joined the Academy’s board in 1984 along with Dr. Judith Sweet. She served the University of Arizona women’s athletics program for three decades during the most important period in the growth of college sports. Roby retired from the Tucson, Ariz., university in 1989.

Roby was inducted into the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics Hall of Fame in 1995. She began her time at the UA as an undergraduate, then in 1959 was hired as a professor in exercise and sports sciences, coach and administrator in Arizona’s women’s athletics. She worked in athletics from the time the program was only club sports to when Arizona became a prominent Division I sports program. Arizona’s budget for women’s sports grew from $8,000 at the time of her hiring to more than six figures during her 30-year career.

At Arizona, Roby directed the UA Women’s Recreation Association, served as women’s athletic director, had a hand in creating most UA women’s athletic programs, and was one of the first women named to the NACDA’s Executive Committee. She also was vice president of the Pac-10 Conference and was a founder and board member of the Council of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators.

Other hall of fame inductions in Roby’s career included the UA’s Mortar Board Hall of Fame in 1981, the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame in 1989 and the NACDA Hall of Fame in 1995.

“Her leadership and advocacy has led to thousands of sport opportunities for young girls and women, not just at Arizona, but across the nation,” says Rocky LaRose, deputy athletic director, in a press release. “The foundation she laid has led the Arizona program to the great successes we enjoy today.”