Sunday, June 29, 2008

Vandy announces first Hall of Fame class

Vanderbilt has finally created an Athletic Hall of Fame to recognize many of the school's outstanding individuals and celebrate its rich sporting history. Individuals were nominated based on three sets of criteria:

A) Commodore Great - Letterwinners/Athletes who have brought recognition and prominence to the University and themselves by their athletic accomplishments as an undergraduate. (Criteria to be considered: All-American, All-SEC, exceptional leadership as witnessed by teammates and/or coaches.)

B) Distinguished Letterwinners - Letterwinners/athletes who have made major contributions to the University athletic program through personal time, effort, interest and through many years of continued service and/or have distinguished themselves

C) Life Time Achievement - Individuals, coaches, athletic officials, staff members and other University officials, who were not letterwinners/athletes at Vanderbilt University, yet have rendered outstanding service to the intercollegiate athletics program through personal time, effort, interest and through many years of continued service.

Individuals are not eligible until four years after they last participated in intercollegiate athletics, which means athletes like Jay Cutler, David Price, Shan Foster, Pedro Alvarez, Earl Bennett and Chris Williams (man, I've been privileged to cover a lot of truly great players) will have to wait.

A 16-member panel of Vanderbilt athletic officials, led by Kevin Colon, a director of sport operations, reviewed hundreds of nominations before choosing the inaugural class of 12 very worthy individuals. Vanderbilt vice chancellor David Williams said as many as 12 people will be inducted into the Hall for perhaps the next three years, and a new class will be introduced each fall, according to Brett Hait of The Nashville City Paper.

There will be a special Hall of Fame weekend on September 12-13, highlighted by the Induction Banquet Friday evening and the Class of 2008 being presented at halftime of Saturday's football game against Rice. And so, without further ado...


Chantelle Anderson, women's basketball player from 1999-2003. Two-time All-American and the school’s all-time leading scorer with 2,604 points. SEC Player of the Year in 2002. No. 2 player picked in 2003 WNBA Draft.

Peggy Harmon Brady, golfer from 1968-72. Paved the way for her female athletes such as her daughter Chris, who later became an All-American at Vanderbilt. Only mother-daughter All-Americans in school history.

John Hall, football player from 1951-54. First academic All-American in school history. Later became Chairman and CEO of Ashland, Inc., and president of the Vanderbilt Board of Trust.

Roy Kramer
, athletics director from 1978-90. Rebuilt Vanderbilt Stadium, renovated McGugin Center, merged men's and women's athletic department. Later became SEC commissioner and was regarded as one of the most powerful and influential leaders in collegiate athletics. Highlights include expansion of the league from 10 to 12 members, creation of the SEC Football Championship, creator of the Bowl Championship Series, unprecedented league success, $1 billion network television contract.

Clyde Lee, basketball player from 1963-66. "Colossal Clyde" played 11 seasons in the NBA after twice being named SEC Player of the Year at Vanderbilt. All-America pick in 1966, averaged school-record 15.5 rebounds per game over his career. Old-timers call Memorial Gym's second and third tiers "the balconies that Clyde built." First VU student-athlete to have his number retired and one of only three.

Dan McGugin
, head football coach from 1904-34. Winningest football coach in school history with overall record of 197-55-19. Ranks No. 20 in all-time NCAA victories and No. 22 in winning percentage. Elected to National Football Foundation Hall of Fame in 1951. Died in 1936.

John Rich
, football and baseball player from 1945-51. Joined VU Board of Trust in 1988 and has helped oversee the expansion and construction of several key athletics facilities.

Fred Russell
, former Nashville Banner writer (1929-98) and VU baseball player (1925-26). One of the greatest sports journalists of the 20th century. Press boxes at Vanderbilt’s football and baseball stadiums are named in his honor. Wrote an estimated 12,000 columns at the Banner, which ceased operation in 1998. Died in 2003.

June Stewart
, VU administration from 1973-91. One of the most influential women in the SEC. First female president of College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Inducted into Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame (2004) and Tennessee Sports Writers Hall of Fame (2007).

Ryan Tolbert Jackson, track and field star from 1994-98. The only Commodore to ever win an individual NCAA championship. Won the 1997 NCAA Outdoors 400 meters in 54.54, a record at that time. Holds seven outdoor and three indoor records.

Bill Wade
, football player from 1949-51. SEC Player of the Year and second-team All-American in 1951 as a quarterback and the No. 1 overall pick in the 1952 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams. Led Chicago Bears to 1963 World Championship.

Perry Wallace
, basketball player from 1966-1970. Would have become a premier HOF candidate even if he didn't make SEC history by becoming the league's first African-American basketball player. Star student-athlete who went on to an outstanding career in law and education. Named All-SEC as a senior. Jersey retired in 2004.

A few quick thoughts about the first HOF class:

-Wish I could have been at Memorial back in the 60's to watch Clyde Lee play. Sounds like he almost single-handedly changed the culture of Vanderbilt basketball.

-Would have loved to meet Mr. Russell, who I hear was as good as it gets.

-There are few individuals, if any, who are better representatives for this university than Perry Wallace. It took a very special and strong person to do what he did. And he was a pretty darn good basketball player too.

-I have to admit, I had never heard of Roy Kramer before this week. But, are his accomplishments impressive or what? Kramer served as SEC commissioner from 1990 to 2002 and created the BCS. You don't get much more influential than that.

-Dan McGugin is a baller. He is responsible for 197 of the football program's 546 victories (36 percent). No wonder they named a building after him.

Photo: [VU Commodores]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kramer really focused on quality and character. He was always looking for ways to improve things and was upfront about it when the new idea turned out to be a bad idea. He was first class all the way and respected by everyone.