By Ann Gill (M.A., ’76)
Boyd “Tiny” Grant (B.S., ’57; M.Ed., ’62) played baseball and basketball for the Rams in the 1950s. He went on to an outstanding career as a basketball coach. Along this journey, he amassed not only many wins but also a wonderful collection of stories.
Grant was an assistant coach for the Rams for 10 years, including the 1968-69 season, when they made it to the “final eight” at the NCAA tournament. An assistant on the CU team told him after their game that the Buffs did not think CSU stood any chance against them. The morning following CSU’s 64-56 win, Grant tells of seeing this headline in one of the Denver newspapers: “The Sun Will Shine Again.”
He coached the CSU team at its inaugural game in Moby on January 24, 1966. Head coach Williams was ill and asked assistant coach Grant to fill in for him. In those days, freshmen could not play on the varsity, so a freshman game preceded each varsity game. In a delightful historical footnote, the “Fabulous Frosh,” coached by “Tiny” Grant, played the very first game at what then was named “Auditorium-Gymnasium.” That name was the only snooze-inducing thing about opening day at what we now call “Moby.” The varsity won 109-70 over New Mexico State, one of the Ram’s largest point totals in team history. Among members of the Ram’s varsity team that year were Bobby Rule, who later played for the Seattle Supersonics and several other NBA teams, and Lonnie Wright (B.S., ’70), who went on to play in the same season for the Denver Broncos and the Denver Rockets of the American Basketball Association, the latter with whom he played four seasons.
Coach Grant remembers that Moby was packed for every game, and he tells of seeing the line to get tickets stretch nearly to Ingersoll Hall. Other members of CSU teams in the late 60s recall students spending the night on the concourse outside Moby to get tickets.
In addition to his coaching stints at CSU, Grant was a recruiter for Kentucky and coached at Southern Idaho, where his teams amassed a 94-6 record and won the junior college national championship in 1976. He spent nine years as head coach at Fresno State, where his teams went to the NCAA tournament three times and the NIT twice, winning that tournament in 1983.
Grant then attempted to retire, but CSU athletic director Oval James asked Grant to come back to Fort Collins as head coach. Grant recalls that James stressed he would need a commitment beyond one year. Grant replied, “CSU has done so much for me, I guarantee I will stay more than one year.” He coached the Rams from 1987-88 through the 1990-91 season, taking the team to the NIT one year and the NCAA tournament twice.
A life member of the CSU Alumni Association, the amazing and inspiring Coach Grant was inducted into the CSU Sports Hall of Fame and also was named Honor Alumnus of the College of Health and Human Sciences.