The Bielfeldt Lecture Hall will be named in honor of Dr. Karol Kahrs



CHAMPAGNE, Ill. – The University of Illinois Intercollegiate Athletics Division will honor longtime administrator and pioneer of women’s athletics, Dr. Karol Kahrs, by naming a primary meeting and conference hall at the Bielfeldt Athletics Administration Building in his honor. The Hall of Fame of Dr. Karol Kahrs will be dedicated this Friday, September 9 during the Illini Women’s Sports Summit, which rightly celebrates the 50e anniversary of the passage of Title IX.

“Dr. Kahrs is an icon, on our campus and across college sports, for the leadership she provided in uplifting women’s sport at a pivotal time in history,” said the director of the IU athletics. Josh Whitman. “We are so proud of his deep affiliation with the University of Illinois and the Big Ten Conference, and we are more than happy to honor his legacy by naming Bielfeldt’s main conference space and meeting hall in his honor. I didn’t have the privilege of knowing Dr. Kahrs well, but even in the limited time I had with her, I could feel her intensity, her passion, and her genuine nature. -athletes and coaches, it is evident the impact she has had on their experience and the sincere respect and appreciation they feel for her, even all these years later. ‘her here that way, and there’s never been a better time than in conjunction with Title IX 50e Birthday party.”

As previously announced, DIA has also launched the Karol Kahrs Women’s Excellence Fund to support Fighting Illini women’s sports programs as part of its 50e birthday parties. Donations to the fund will be dedicated to three main areas: MAKE A PRESENT

  • Respond to equipment needs and improve facilities;
  • Improve training travel opportunities, both domestically and abroad; and
  • Enriching personal development opportunities.

Dr. Kahrs, who died in 2020, began her career in Illinois in 1966 as an instructor at the College of Physical Education and spent many years coaching women’s sports. In 1974, she joined the UI Athletics Association to develop the University’s women’s intercollegiate athletics program as Title IX helped bring change to women’s sports nationally. At Illinois, Dr. Kahrs was later promoted to Associate Director of Athletics and Senior Administrator. Under the guidance and leadership of Dr. Kahrs, Illinois was one of the first institutions to be reviewed by the Office of Civil Rights and deemed compliant with Title IX guidelines in 1981.

Dr. Kahrs retired from the University in 2000 after 36 years of service, including 26 years in the athletics department. During her distinguished career, Dr. Kahrs served as president of the National Association of College Women Athletic Administrators (NACWAA) in 1998-1999 and has served on numerous NCAA committees. She also proudly served on the Board of Directors for the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW), which coordinated championships for women’s athletic programs prior to the NCAA.

Dr. Kahrs was the first president of the Big Ten Women’s Athletic Administrators from 1974 to 1976 and was a member of the committee that submitted the original proposal to add women’s athletics to the conference in 1981. In 2014, Dr. Kahrs was received the NACWAA Lifetime Achievement Award, given to administrators who have dedicated their professional careers to the advancement of women in sport. She is also a member of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) Hall of Fame (2006). In 2017, Dr. Kahrs was a member of the inaugural class of the Athletics Hall of Fame at the University of Illinois.

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