University of Illinois Names Inaugural Athletics Hall of Fame Class
The University of Illinois is celebrating its incredible athletics legacy by announcing the inaugural class of its Athletics Hall of Fame. Some of the greatest names in sport comprise the 28-person Class of 2017, dating back to the very first Fighting Illini football team in 1890 through the addition of women’s varsity teams in the early 1970s, and continuing to coaches and athletes from the current century.
Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2017
Nick Anderson, Basketball (1988-89)
Nick Anderson earned First-Team All-Big Ten honors after helping lead the famed Flying Illini to the 1989 NCAA Final Four. Anderson averaged 17 points per game during his Illini career and his 35-foot buzzer-beating jump shot to defeat Indiana is considered one of the iconic plays in Fighting Illini history. Anderson entered the NBA Draft following his junior season and was the 11th overall pick by Orlando Magic, becoming the franchise’s first-ever draft pick. Anderson played 13 years in the NBA with a 14.4 career scoring average.
Lou Boudreau, Baseball/ Basketball (1937-38)
Lou Boudreau is the only Illini in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He concluded his 15-year MLB career, including 10 seasons as a player-manager, as a seven-time All-Star and the 1948 American League MVP. Boudreau managed the Cleveland Indians to their last World Series title in 1948, and led AL shortstops in fielding eight times. The “Good Kid” won the AL batting title in 1944 and still holds MLB record for hitting the most consecutive doubles in a game (4) on July 14, 1946. As an Illini, Boudreau served as captain of Illini baseball and basketball teams. He led the Illini to both basketball and baseball Big Ten titles during the 1936-37 season before earning All-America honors in basketball in 1938. Boudreau is one of just three athletes (along with Grange and Butkus) to have their Illini number retired. He died in 2001 at the age of 84.
Dee Brown, Basketball (2003-06)
Dee Brown, quite possibly the most popular Fighting Illini basketball player in history, was named the 2005 Sporting News National Player of the Year. Nicknamed “The One-Man Fastbreak,” he was a two-time consensus All-American, including first-team in 2005 and second-team in 2006. Brown was named the 2005 Big Ten Silver Basketball winner and 2005 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year after helping lead the Illini to a Big Ten title and appearance in the NCAA national championship game. Brown was a four-time All-Big Ten selection and finished third in voting for 2005 Wooden Award. In 2006, Brown was winner of the Bob Cousy Award as nation’s top point guard. Brown is the winningest player in Illinois history with 114 victories. Following his Illinois career, he played professionally for 10 years, including two years in the NBA.
Tonja Buford-Bailey, Track and Field (1990-93)
Tonja Buford-Bailey is a three-time Olympic hurdler in 1992, 1996 and 2000, earning Bronze in ’96 in the 400 meter hurdles; She won an incredible 25 individual Big Ten titles, had 10 All-America performances and was four-time Big Ten Athlete of the Year in women’s track and field. Buford-Bailey won the 1992 NCAA title in the 400 meter hurdles. Her best result came in the 1995 World Championships in Sweden where she won the silver medal in the 400 meter hurdles, losing the race by 0.01 seconds, which was under the previous world record. As Illini women’s track coach, she led the team to one Big Ten championship in 2013. Buford-Bailey is currently the track and field sprint and relay coach at Texas.
Dick Butkus, Football (1962-64)
Dick Butkus is regarded by many as the greatest linebacker in football history. He is one of four Illinois players in history to earn consensus All-America honors in two seasons. Butkus played center on offense and linebacker on defense for Coach Pete Elliott, leading the Illini to the 1963 Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl victory over Washington. He is a member of both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame. Butkus was two-time consensus All-American, three-time All-Big Ten and the 1963 Silver Football Award winner. He finished third in the 1964 Heisman Trophy balloting and went on to a nine-year Hall of Fame career with the NFL’s Chicago Bears. Butkus’ Illinois jersey, No. 50, was retired in 1986 and he was named to the Walter Camp Foundation All-Century team in 1989. The nation’s top linebacker receives the “Butkus Award” each season.
Jerry Colangelo, Basketball/Contributor to Sport (1960-62)
Jerry Colangelo played basketball at Illinois from 1960-62 before embarking on a long and influential career in professional sports as a coach, general manager and even as team owner. Colangelo is the former owner of the Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Mercury, Arizona Sandsharks, Arizona Rattlers and Arizona Diamondbacks. He became youngest general manager in professional sports in 1968 after being hired by Suns. Colangelo has served as Chairman of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, as well as many leadership roles with the NBA, MLB, charitable foundations and community organizations. He is a four-time NBA Executive of the Year selection and was named as one of Phoneix’s 15 all-time most influential citizens and the Most Influential Sports Figure in Arizona for the 20th century by the Arizona Republic. Colangelo was elected to Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2004. Colangelo was named Director of USA Basketball in 2005 and helped lead the U.S. National Team to Olympic gold in 2008, 2012 and 2016.
Dwight “Dike” Eddleman, Football/Track/Basketball (1943, 1947-49)
Dike Eddleman is generally considered the greatest athlete in UI history. He earned a combined 11 letters in track, football and basketball while being named the 1949 Big Ten Silver Basketball winner. Eddleman played in the 1947 Rose Bowl as a punter, competed in the high jump (tying for second) in the 1948 Olympics, and led Illinois to the 1949 NCAA Basketball Final Four. He won the NCAA high jump title. Eddleman earned first-team All-America honors in 1949 after being named second-team in 1948, while earning first-team All-Big Ten recognition in 1948 and second-team honors in 1949. He served as the team captain, earned team MVP honors, and led Illinois to the Big Ten title and NCAA Final Four appearance in 1949. He played four seasons in the NBA, including All-Star Game appearances in 1951 and 1952. Eddleman is a member of the National Federation of State High School Associations Hall of Fame. Beginning in 1969, Eddleman served the UI as chief fundraiser for the athletics department. He died in 2001 at the age of 78.
Perdita Felicien, Track and Field (2000-03)
Perdita Felician was a three-time NCAA hurdles champion and was named 2001 and 2003 NCAA Track Athlete of the Year. She earned All-America honors 10 times while at Illinois. Felicien was a two-time world champion in the 100-meter hurdles and two-time world silver medalist. She set UI, Big Ten and NCAA records in 60 meter and 100 meter hurdles. Felicien represented Canada at 2000 and 2004 Olympic games and is a 10-time Canadian champion. She set the Canadian record in the 100 meter hurdles in 2004, which still stands today. Felicien was the first Canadian woman to ever win a medal at the World Championships. During her career, she won gold and silver at both the World Championships in the 100 meter hurdles and World Indoor Championships in the 60 meter hurdles. Felicien was inducted into the Athletics Canada Hall of Fame in 2016.
Harry Gill, Track Coach (1904-29, 31-33)
Harry Gill won an Illinois record 22 Big Ten team championships in indoor and outdoor track and field. He was a driving force behind the NCAA sponsoring team championship events. Gill led the Illini to two NCAA team titles, including the 1921 outdoor track and field title, which was the first-ever team championship awarded by NCAA. Competed as a multi-event athlete at Harvard and was a one-time holder of the discus world record. Under Gill, Illinois athletes appeared at the Paris 1924 Olympic Games, where they scored more points than any other nation’s entire team. Gill is a member of the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame and coached numerous Olympic competitors. He built a career record of 111-24 in dual meets. He was the founder of Gill Athletics in 1918, and continues to be a world leader in track and field equipment. Gill died in 1956 at the age of 80.
Harold “Red” Grange, Football (1923-25)
As its first legitimate star, Red Grange is credited with establishing the popularity of professional football. A charter member of both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame, Grange was a three-time consensus All-American from 1923-25 and considered by many still today to be the greatest collegiate football player of all time. The 1924 B1G Silver Football Award. Grange’s legendary No. 77 was retired after the completion of his final game at Illinois. He was named a member of the Walter Camp Foundation’s All-Century team in 1989. After his final game at Illinois, Grange signed with the Chicago Bears, owned by Illinois alumnus George Halas. During an age when professional football rarely saw crowds of more than a few thousand, Grange attracted 36,000 spectators for his pro debut on Thanksgiving Day at Wrigley Field; 10 days later 73,000 watched him play at New York’s Polo Grounds. Grange’s most memorable performance came Oct. 18, 1924, when he scored four touchdowns in the first 12 minutes vs. Michigan in the Memorial Stadium dedication game. Later in the same game, he ran for a fifth touchdown and threw for a sixth. Nicknamed the “Wheaton Iceman” and “Galloping Ghost,” he was named to The Sporting News All-Time Team, the Big Ten Diamond Anniversary Team, the Walter Camp All-Century Team and UI All-Century Team. In 2010, he was named the No. 1 Icon in Big Ten history by the Big Ten Network. Grange died in 1991 at the age of 87.
Abie Grossfeld, Gymnastics (1957-60)
Abie Grossfeld won four gold, three silver and three bronze medals at NCAA Championships, finishing among the top three in 10 of 16 events from 1957-59. In 1957, he finished second in the all-around at the 1957 NCAA Championships. Grossfeld won seven Big Ten individual titles and four AAU national titles and competed in the Olympics for the U.S. in 1956 and 1960. He coached American gymnasts at the 1964, 1972, 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games. Grossfeld won 15 medals at the Pan American Games and 17 combined gold medals while dominating the Maccabiah Games. He was head coach of U.S. men’s gymnastics team at five World Championships and was named NCAA National Coach of the Year three times. Grossfeld was selected to the U.S. Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1979 and the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1991. He spent 41 years as head coach at Southern Connecticut State University where he is now a Professor Emeritus of Athletics.
George Halas, Football/Basketball/Baseball/Contributor to Sport (1916-18)
George Halas played football, baseball and basketball at Illinois, helping the Illini to the 1918 Big Ten football championship under Bob Zuppke. He graduated from the UI with a degree in civil engineering. While serving as an ensign in the Navy during World War I, he played for a team at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station and was named MVP of the 1919 Rose Bowl after receiving a touchdown and returning an interception 77 yards in a 17-0 win. Afterwards, Halas played minor league baseball, eventually earning a promotion to the New York Yankees, where he played 12 games as an outfielder in 1919 before a hip injury effectively ended his baseball career. In 1920, Halas represented the A.E. Staley Company at the meeting which formed the American Professional Football Association (which became the NFL), and after one year, moved the team to Chicago where they eventually became the Bears. He was player-coach for the Bears for 10 years until 1930 but remained as club owner. Halas eventually returned to coaching and in 40 years as head coach, he endured only six losing seasons while compiling a record of 318-148-31 and winning six NFL championships. He added two additional championships as owner. His No. 7 is retired by the Bears. Halas was named a charter member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963. Halas’ last year as coach was in 1967, and he remained as owner until his death in 1983 at the age of 88. A pioneer both on and off the field, the George Halas Trophy is awarded by the NFL to the National Football Conference champion and the Pro Football Hall of Fame is located on George Halas Drive.
George Huff, Football/Football Coach/Baseball Coach/Athletics Director (1901-36)
Considered the “Father of Illini Athletics,” George Huff was a player, coach and athletics director during the first 46 years of the Athletic Association. Huff was a member of Illinois’ first varsity football team in 1890, served as head football coach from 1895-99, compiling a record of 21-16-3, served as head baseball coach from 1896-1919, tallying a mark of 317-97-4 and was director of athletics at Illinois from 1901-36. Huff briefly managed Boston Americans (later Red Sox) at start of 1907 season, but managed only eight games before returning to Illinois. He led Illinois to 11 Big Ten baseball titles. Huff was the driving force behind construction of Memorial Stadium and Men’s New Gym, later named Huff Hall. The first school for collegiate athletic coaches was that which he organized in 1919. In his earlier years, Huff, during the summer, scouted for the Chicago Cubs and later for the Boston Red Sox. His greatest scouting achievement was the discovery of future hall of famer Tris Speaker in the Texas bushes. He was selected to the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame (1968) and is a member of NACDA Hall of Fame (1973). Huff was Instrumental in establishing the Western Conference, the forerunner of the Big Ten Conference, in 1896. Huff died in 1936 at the age of 64.
Mannie Jackson, Basketball/Contributor to Sport (1958-60)
Mannie Jackson was born in a railroad boxcar in Illmo, Missouri, before moving to Edwardsville, Illinois and finding statewide high school success on the basketball court. In college, he broke down barriers, when he and former high school teammate Govoner Vaughn became the first African-Americans to start and letter in basketball at the University of Illinois. Jackson earned All-Big Ten honors twice as an Illini before playing three years with the Harlem Globetrotters. After starting a long career at Honeywell, where he became one of the company’s senior corporate officers, Jackson became the nation’s first African-American owner of a global sports and entertainment brand when he purchased the Globetrotters in 1993. He won the 2015 Theodore Roosevelt Award by the NCAA, the association’s top honor. Jackson served as Chairman of the National Basketball Hall of Fame from 2007-09. He was inducted as a Laureate of The Lincoln Academy and awarded the Order of Lincoln (the State’s highest honor) by the Governor of Illinois in 2010 in the area of Sports.
Karol Kahrs, Coach / Athletics Administration (1966-2000)
Recognized with the NACWAA Legacy Award in 2014, Kahrs created and developed the Illinois women’s athletics program from the ground up starting in 1974 after working in the physical education department since 1966. More well-known for her role in shaping women’s athletics, she served as basketball, volleyball and softball coach during her collegiate career. Kahrs is a past president of NACWAA (1998-99) and member of numerous NCAA and organizational committees, including a spot on the Executive Board of the AIAW. Kahrs is a member of the NACDA Hall of Fame (2006) and was the first chairman of the Big Ten Women’s Athletic Administrators from 1974-76. She was a member of the committee that submitted the initial proposal to add women’s athletics to the Big Ten Conference in 1981.
Nancy Thies Marshall, Gymnastics (1976-77)
Nancy Thies Marshall is the only Illinois women’s gymnast to compete in the Olympics, when she made the 1972 team as a 15-year-old out of Urbana High School. Marshall placed third in the all-around at the 1972 AAU Meet and was fifth at the Olympic Trials to make the Olympic Team. She is credited with being the first person to perform back aerial tumbling on the balance beam in Olympic competitions. During her career, she has served as vice-chair for women at USA Olympics. Marshall has co-authored athletic-themed books, volunteered and led nonprofit organizations, worked for NBC as a commentator for television broadcasts of gymnastics, and traveled as a tireless proponent of athlete wellness. She was a four-year member of the U.S. National Team and was two-time Big Ten Gymnast of the Year. Marshall won the Big Ten All-Around title and earned All-American honors. She was inducted into the World Acrobatic Society Hall of Fame in 2010. Marshall is currently the director of Human Resources at Corban University in Salem, Oregon.
Herb McKenley, Track & Field (1946-47)
Herb McKenley was a four-time NCAA Champion in the 220 yard and 440 yard dashes in 1946 and 1947. He was an eight-time Big Ten Champion and AAU champion in the 440-yard dash in 1945, 1947 and 1948 and had world best times in the 100 meters (10.3), 200 meters (20.4) and 400 meters (46.2) in 1947. He’s the only person to ever have achieved this feat. McKenley won a gold and three silver medals as a Jamaican sprinter at the 1948 and 1952 Olympic Games while setting a world record in the 440, and is the only person to have made the finals in all three sprinting events, the 100 meters, 200 meters and 400 meters at the Olympics. McKenley was coach of the Jamaican national team from 1954-73. He died in Kingston, Jamaica in 2007 at the age of 85.
Allie Morrison, Wrestling (1927-29)
Allie Morrison won the freestyle featherweight gold medal at the 1928 Olympics as the only American wrestler to capture gold at those Games. He also won three consecutive U.S. AAU National Wrestling Championships, losing just once during his career. Morrison was forced to retire in 1929 after suffering broken vertebra in his neck. The 1928 Big Ten champion, Morrison was undefeated as an Illinois wrestler. Morrison was state of Iowa’s first Olympic gold medalist in any sport. He won three National AAU titles starting in 1926 as a high school senior and is a member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. Morrison died in 1966 at the age of 61.
Harold Osborn, Track & Field (1920-22)
Harold Osborn is a member of the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He competed for the U.S. at the 1924 and 1928 Olympic games and was the 1924 high jump and decathlon gold medalist (only time ever an athlete won decathlon gold and individual event gold) and 1928 high jump silver medalist. Osborn set six world records during his career and helped the Illini win Big Ten team championships indoors and outdoors all three years at Illinois. Osborn won NCAA and AAU high jump titles in 1922, while setting the high jump world record with a leap of 6’8 ¼” in 1924. Altogether, he won 17 national titles and held world indoor records in the standing hop, step and jump; the 60-yard high hurdles and the running high jump. His world record in standing high jump of 5-5 ¾ still stands today. He won the AAU outdoor high jump title in 1925 and 1926, the indoor title four years in a row, 1923-26, and he was the AAU decathlon champion in 1923, 1925 and 1926. After his international competition career, he received his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine in 1937 and returned to Champaign where he practiced osteopathic medicine, continued to compete in athletics and assisted the UI track team in the 1940s. He was selected as a charter member of the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1974, a year before his death in 1975 at the age of 75.
Andy Phillip, Basketball/Baseball (1942-43, 47)
Andy Phillip is the only Illini elected to the National Basketball Hall of Fame as a player. His Illini career was highlighted as a three-time consensus All-American and All-Big Ten selection. A star on the baseball field as well, Phillip was additionally named 1947 All-American in that sport. He was the most decorated member of famed Whiz Kids. Phillip went on to an 11-year NBA career, with five appearances in the NBA All-Star Game and twice earning second-team All-NBA honors. He is a member of the Illinois All-Century Team and was the 1943 Sporting News National Player of the Year. Phillip was a two-time consensus First-Team All-American in 1942 and 1943, and consensus Second-Team All-American in 1947. Phillip died in 2001 at the age of 79.
Renee Heiken Slone, Golf (1990-93)
Renee Heiken Slone was named the 1993 National College Player of the Year by both the National Golf Coaches Association and Golfweek Magazine. She was the most dominant women’s golfer in Illini history. Slone was a three-time All-American, claiming three straight Top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championships, with a high place of third in 1991. She was a two-time Big Ten Player of the Year and two-time Big Ten Championship medalist. Slone was a tournament medalist eight times as a senior to set the Illinois record. She is currently the head coach of the Fighting Illini women’s golf program.
Steve Stricker, Golf (1986-89)
Steve Stricker was a two-time All-American in 1988 and 1989 and three-time Big Ten Championship medalist in 1986, 1988 and 1989. His outstanding professional career includes 21 tour victories with five Top-10 finishes at Majors. Stricker’s most successful season on tour came in 2009, when he had three tournament victories and finished second on the money list. He has ranked as high as No. 2 in the Official World Golf Rankings. Stricker spent 57 consecutive weeks in the world Top-10 from Aug. 26, 2007 to Sept. 21, 2008, and was there for a further 157 consecutive weeks from May 31, 2009 to May 26, 2012. He has a total of 253 weeks in the top-10. Stricker was twice named the PGA Tour Comeback Player of the Year (2006 and 2007), won the Payne Stewart Award in 2012 and Byron Nelson Award in 2013. He has been a five-time member of the U.S. Presidents Cup team, including Presidents Cup team captain in 2017. Stricker was also a three-time member of the U.S. Ryder Cup team (2008, 2010, 2012) and played on the U.S. Dunhill Cup team in 1996.
Mary Eggers Tendler, Volleyball (1985-88)
Mary Eggers Tendler is the most decorated player in Illinois volleyball history. The 1988 Honda Broderick Award winner as the nation’s top player, Tendler was a three-time First-Team All-American and four-time First-Team All-Big Ten selection. She led the nation in hitting percentage in 1986 and 1988 and was named Big Ten Player of the Year three times while helping the Fighting Illini to NCAA Final Four appearances in 1987 and 1988. Her .420 career hitting percentage stood as the NCAA record until 1993. Before a long coaching career, Tendler spent a year-and-a-half playing with the USA Olympic team and spent two years playing professionally in Europe. In 2003, Tendler was named head coach at Elon University, where she remains today.
Craig Tiley, Tennis Coach (1992-2005)
Craig Tiley led the Fighting Illini to the NCAA men’s tennis national title in 2003 with a perfect 32-0 record and ITA National Team Indoor Championships in 2003 and 2004. The tennis national championship was the first by a school not from the south or either coast. Tiley left Illinois following the 2005 season to serve Tennis Australia as their Director of Player Development. In 2006, he was named Director of the Australian Open in addition to his prior duties. After Tennis Australia’s CEO stepped down in 2013, Tiley was selected as the successor of the governing body that oversees tennis in Australia. As head coach of the Illini, he built a head coaching record of 274-77 (.781) while leading the Illini to nine Big Ten regular-season titles and six Big Ten Tournament championships. Tiley was a two-time Wilson/ITA Division I National Coach of the Year (1999 and 2003) and eight-time Big Ten Coach of the Year. He led Illinois to an NCAA record 64 consecutive wins during the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Tiley served as captain of the South Africa Davis Cup team from 1998-2001. Tiley is a member of the ITA Men’s Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame.
Craig Virgin, Cross Country (1973-77)
At Illinois, Craig Virgin won nine Big Ten championships, nine All-American awards and was the 1975 NCAA Cross Country champion. He was a three-time Olympic qualifier in 1976, 1980 and 1984 at 10,000 meters, and is a seven-time American record holder in road and track events. Virgin was a three-time national champion in 10,000 meters at U.S. National Track and Field Championships, and winner of the 1980 Olympic Trials 10,000 meters. He was a nine-time member of the U.S. squad at the World Cross Country Championships and became the first (and still the only) American man to win the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, which he did twice. Virgin was inducted into the National Distance Running Hall of Fame and National USA Track & Field Hall of Fame.
Deron Williams, Basketball (2003-05)
Deron Williams is the most internationally decorated Fighting Illini basketball player in school history. He helped lead the U.S. Olympic team to gold medals at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympic games. Williams earned consensus 2005 Second-Team All-American honors after helping lead the Illini to the national championship game and school-record 37 victories. He was a two-time All-Big Ten first-team selection before entering the NBA Draft after his junior season and becoming the third overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, highest ever by an Illini player. Williams is a three-time NBA All-Star and named All-NBA Second Team twice. Williams was named to the NBA All-Rookie Team and is playing in his 12th year in the NBA.
Claude “Buddy” Young, Football/Track & Field (1944, 46)
Buddy Young was a football and track star for Illinois. At just 5’4” Young, also known as the “Bronze Bullet,” had exceptional quickness and acceleration. On the track, he won NCAA titles in the 100 and 220-yard dashes, tied the world record for the 45 and 60-yard dashes (6.1 in the latter), and was the AAU 100-meter champion. Inducted as a member of College Football Hall of Fame in 1968. He was drafted by the Navy following his All-American freshman season and played for a service team. After his stint in the Navy, Young returned to Illinois and helped the Illini win the 1946 Big Ten football title and 1947 Rose Bowl against UCLA, where he earned Co-MVP honors. He later was named to the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame. Young was a trailblazer as one of the first African-American players in NFL. He played 10 years of pro football and was the first Baltimore Colt to have his number retired. In 1966, Young the first African-American executive hired by the NFL. At his death in 1983 in a car accident, Young was 56 years old and Director of Player Relations for the NFL.
Robert Zuppke, Football Coach (1913-41)
Robert Zuppke is a charter member of College Football Hall of Fame after leading the Illini to four national titles in 1914, 1919, 1923 and 1927, along with seven Big Ten championships. Zuppke is Illinois’ all-time winningest football coach with his 131-81-13 record. The playing field at Memorial Stadium was dedicated as “Zuppke Field” in 1966. Known as “The Little Dutchman,” Zuppke was known as an innovator and trend-setter as a coach. He is credited with introducing the offensive huddle, the screen pass, the long snap to the punter, the linebacker position and the flea flicker play. Along with George Huff, was a driving force behind the construction of Memorial Stadium. He died in 1957 at the age of 78.