Piscataway, N.J. (Oct. 11, 2012) – Rutgers University and its surrounding community is mourning the passing of Rita Kay Thomas. A senior assistant athletic director from 1972-2001, Thomas helped uphold Title IX regulations, overseeing the transition of women’s sports between 1975 and 1984.
Thomas passed away on Oct. 10 surrounded by family and friends.
“Our entire Rutgers family is saddened at the loss of Rita Kay and our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends,” said Rutgers Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Tim Pernetti. “Rita Kay served Rutgers Athletics well during a truly transformative time. She never left us and remained a fixture at games and events while always showing her support. We’re going to miss her.”
Thomas was responsible for all aspects of administration and leadership of the original women’s programs, including the hiring and evaluation of coaches, scheduling, game contracts, eligibility of student-athletes, and budgeting.
In the fall of 1972, Rutgers University became co-educational, and strides were made to accommodate the institution’s new culture. After the passing of Title IX in the same year, universities nationwide worked to implement the gender equality changes. Thomas was hired as RU’s first director of women’s athletics and assistant athletic director, and was an integral part of the organization of women’s athletics at Rutgers.
Despite supervising, coordinating, administering, and overseeing all aspects of Rutgers women's athletic programs, Thomas still found time to devote to being the head women’s tennis coach.
In 1993, Thomas transitioned from a sport administrator to running the university’s compliance program. She was the advisor to the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and also the Title IX liaison. Thomas retired in 2001 after 29 years of service at Rutgers.
The visitation will be held at Gleason Funeral Home at 1360 Hamilton Street in Somerset, N.J. on Sunday Oct. 14, 2012 from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
The funeral will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Monday Oct. 15, 2012 at St. Matthias Church at 168 JFK Blvd. in Somerset.
In lieu of flowers, we are asking that donations be made to the ‘Rita Kay Thomas Memorial Fund” at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey Foundation, 120 Albany Street, Tower 2, Fifth Floor, New Brunswick, NJ 08901. These funds will go to Drs. Gibbon and Rodriguez and their efforts in research and care of ovarian cancer patients. These doctors cared for Rita Kay since her cancer diagnosis in 2006. With their excellent care, Rita Kay had 6 plus wonderful years enjoying her family and friends.