Illini Greats

Images and text courtesy of Athletics

This Fall, the University is honored the inaugural class of its Athletics Hall of Fame. Some of the greatest names in sports 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.

Nick Anderson
Basketball (1988-89)

Photo courtesy of UI Athletics

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 greatest plays in Fighting Illini history. Anderson entered the NBA Draft following his junior season and was the 11th overall pick by the Orlando Magic, becoming the franchise’s first-ever draft pick. Anderson played 13 years in the NBA and had a 14.4 career scoring average.


Lou Boudreau
Baseball/ Basketball (1937-38)

Photo courtesy of UI Athletics

The only Illini in the Baseball Hall of Fame, Lou Boudreau 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” still holds the MLB record for hitting the most consecutive doubles in a game (4). At Illinois, 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-American 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)

29 January 2005: Illinois defeated the Minnesota Golden Gophers 88-66 at the Assembly Hall in Champaign, Il. Illinois celebrated their 100th Anniversary of Collegiate Basketball. Photo © Mark Cowan and courtesy of UI Athletics

Dee Brown, 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. He was a four-time All-Big Ten selection and finished third in voting for the 2005 Wooden Award. In 2006, Brown won  the Bob Cousy Award as the nation’s top point guard. He is the winningest player in Illinois history with 114 victories. Following his Illinois career, Brown played professionally for 10 years, including two years in the NBA.


Tonja Buford-Bailey
Track and Field (1990-93)

Photo courtesy of UI Athletics

Tonja Buford-Bailey was 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-American performances and was a 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. As Illini women’s track coach, she led the team to one Big Ten championship in 2013.


Dick Butkus
Football (1962-64)

Photo courtesy of UI Athletics

Dick Butkus is regarded by many as the greatest linebacker in football history. He is one of four Illinois players to earn consensus All-American 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 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)

Photo courtesy of UI Athletics

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 team owner. Colangelo is the former owner of several teams, including the Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks. He became the youngest general manager in professional sports in 1968 after being hired by the Suns. Colangelo has served as chairman of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and in many leadership roles with the NBA, MLB, charitable foundations and community organizations. He is a four-time NBA Executive of the Year and was named one of Phoenix’s 15 All-Time Most Influential Citizens and the Most Influential Sports Figure in Arizona by the Arizona Republic. 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)

Photo courtesy of UI Athletics

Dike Eddleman is 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 also 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, he served the University as chief fundraiser for the Athletics Dept. He died in 2001 at the age of 78.


Perdita Felicien
Track and Field (2000-03)

Photo courtesy of UI Athletics

Perdita Felicien 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 school, Big Ten and NCAA records in 60 meter and 100 meter hurdles. Felicien represented Canada at the 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 also was the first Canadian woman to win a medal at the World Championships. During her career, she won gold and silver at both 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.


Harold “Red” Grange
Football (1923-25)

Photo courtesy of UI Athletics

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. After his final game at Illinois, Grange’s legendary No. 77 was retired, and he signed with the Chicago Bears, which were 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. Nicknamed the “Wheaton Iceman” and “Galloping Ghost,” he was named to The Sporting News All-Time Team, Big Ten Diamond Anniversary Team, 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)

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Abie Grossfeld won four gold, three silver and three bronze medals at the 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 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 the 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)

Photo courtesy of UI Archives, 1919 Illio

George Halas played football, baseball and basketball at Illinois, helping the Illini win the 1918 Big Ten football championship under Bob Zuppke. He graduated from UI with a degree in civil engineering. In 1920, Halas founded the Decatur Staleys, which would become the Chicago Bears in 1922. He was player-coach of the Bears for 10 years until 1930 but remained as club owner. In 40 years as head coach, he compiled a record of 318-148-31, winning six NFL championships. Halas was named a charter member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963. He remained the Bear’s owner until his death in 1983 at the age of 88. The George Halas Trophy is awarded by the NFL to the National Football Conference champion. (For more on Halas, see “Papa Bear” on pg. 30.)


Mannie Jackson
Basketball/Contributor to Sport (1958-60)

Photo courtesy of UI Archives

Mannie Jackson was born in a railroad boxcar in Illmo, Mo., before moving to Edwardsville, Ill., 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 a successful career at Honeywell, 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 from 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)

Photo courtesy of UI Archives

Winner of the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Association 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 Dept. 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 was the first chairman of the Big Ten Women’s Athletic Administrators from 1974-76.


Nancy Thies Marshall
Gymnastics (1976-77)

Photo courtesy of UI Archives

Nancy Thies Marshall is the only Illinois women’s gymnast to compete in the Olympics. 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 athlete 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 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 also 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 director of human resources at Corban University in Salem, Ore.


Herb McKenley
Track & Field (1946-47)

Photo courtesy of UI Archives

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 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. He is the only athlete 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)

Photo courtesy of UI Archives

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. He was the state of Iowa’s first Olympic gold medalist in any sport. Morrison won three National AAU titles starting in 1926 as a high school senior and is a member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. He died in 1966 at the age of 61.


Harold Osborn
Track & Field (1920-22)

Photo courtesy of UI Athletics

A member of the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame, Harold Osborn competed for the U.S. at the 1924 and 1928 Olympic games and was the 1924 high jump and decathlon gold medalist (only time 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. He won NCAA and Amateur Athletic Union high jump titles in 1922, while setting the high jump world record with a leap of 6’ 8¼” 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 5-5¾ still stands today. Osborn won the AAU outdoor high jump title in 1925 and 1926, 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 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)

Photo courtesy of UI Athletics

Andy Phillip is the only Illini elected to the National Basketball Hall of Fame as a player. His Illini career was highlighted by a three-time consensus All-American and All-Big Ten selection. A star on the baseball field as well, Phillip was named 1947 All-American in that sport. He was the most decorated member of the 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. As a member of the Illinois All-Century Team, Phillip was a two-time consensus First-Team All-American in 1942 and 1943, and consensus Second-Team All-American in 1947. He died in 2001 at the age of 79.


Renee Heiken Slone
Golf (1990-93)

Photo courtesy of UI Athletics


Renee Heiken Slone was named the 1993 National College Player of the Year by both the National Golf Coaches Association and Golfweek magazine. 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. 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, an Illinois record. She is currently head coach of the Fighting Illini women’s golf program.


Steve Stricker
Golf (1986-89)

Photo courtesy of UI Athletics

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 another 157 consecutive weeks from May 31, 2009, to May 26, 2012. He spent a total of 253 weeks in the top-10. Stricker was twice named the PGA Tour Comeback Player of the Year (2006 and 2007), and 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, which includes Presidents Cup team captain in 2017. Stricker also was 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)

Photo courtesy of UI Athletics

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)

Illinois at NCAA Men’s Tennis Championships. Photo courtesy of UI Athletics

Craig Tiley led the Fighting Illini to the NCAA men’s tennis national title in 2003 with a perfect 32-0 record and Intercollegiate Tennis Association 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 its 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 CEO of After Tennis, the governing body that oversees tennis in Australia. As head coach of the Illini, he amassed a 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 also served as captain of the South Africa Davis Cup team from 1998-2001. He is a member of the ITA Men’s Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame.


Craig Virgin
Cross Country (1973-77)

Photo courtesy of UI Archives

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, and 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. A nine-time member of the U.S. squad at the World Cross Country Championships, he became the first (and still the only) American man to win the International Association of Athletics Federations 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)

Photo courtesy of UI Archives

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 a 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 was named to the All-NBA Second Team twice. He also made the NBA All-Rookie Team and is now playing in his 12th year in the NBA.


Claude “Buddy” Young
Football/Track & Field (1944, 46)

Photo courtesy of UI Archives

Buddy Young was a football and track star for Illinois. 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. He was drafted by the U.S. Navy following his All-American freshman season and played for a service team. After his discharge, 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 and inducted into the College Hall of Fame in 1968. Young was a trailblazer as one of the first African American players in the NFL. He played 10 years of pro football and was the first Baltimore Colt to have his number retired. In 1966, Young was the first African American executive hired by the NFL. At the time of his death in a 1983 car accident, Young was 56 years old and director of player relations for the NFL.