Eleven to be inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame

A professional golfer, a pair of former University of Arkansas football players and past and present college and high school coaches are among the members of the Class of 2014 for the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Eleven inductees will be honored when the organization holds its 56th annual induction banquet on Friday, Feb. 28. The banquet will be held at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock.

The Hall of Fame Class of 2014 will consist of six inductees from the regular category, three inductees from the senior category and two inductees from the posthumous category.

Wally Hall of Little Rock is the organization’s president, and Ray Tucker serves as executive director. The Hall of Fame inducted its first class in 1959.

Those being inducted from the regular category are:

  •  David BazzelDavid Bazzel, who played football for the University of Arkansas under head coaches Lou Holtz and Ken Hatfield. Bazzel, a native of Panama City, Fla., was a team captain, a three-year starter and a four-year letterman at linebacker from 1981-85. He was a defensive team captain for the 1985 unit that set a Southwest Conference record of allowing no rushing touchdowns during the conference season. Bazzel, who now co-hosts the morning drive-time program on Little Rock radio station KABZ-FM, 103.7, has since made a name for himself with various sports awards and promotions. He was the chairman of the Arkansas Governor’s Council on Fitness for nine years, was a founder of the Little Rock Touchdown Club in 2004, created the Broyles Award for the nation’s top college assistant football coach in 1996 and created the Golden Boot that is awarded each fall to the winner of the Arkansas-LSU football game. Earlier this year, Bazzel created the Cliff Harris Award to honor the top small college defensive player in the country. Bazzel also was a founder of the state high school weightlifting championships.
  • Gary BlairGary Blair, the head women’s basketball coach at Texas A&M University and a former head women’s basketball coach at the University of Arkansas. Blair, who coached at Arkansas from 1993-2003, is one of only three NCAA Division I women’s basketball coaches to lead two schools to the NCAA Women’s Final Four. He ranks among the top 20 in career victories and in the top 30 by winning percentage among active Division I coaches. Blair already has been inducted into three halls of fame: the Texas High School Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002, the Stephen F. Austin University Ladyjack Hall of Fame in 2008 and the Southland Conference Hall of Honor in 2009. Blair led Arkansas to the 1998 Final Four. The team finished with a 22-11 record. Blair’s overall record at Arkansas was 198-120. He led Texas A&M to the 2011 national championship. The Aggies finished their championship season with a 33-5 record. At the start of this season, Blair had a 237-100 record at Texas A&M and a 645-263 overall record. He was the head coach at Stephen F. Austin from 1985-93, compiling a 210-43 record at the Texas school.
  • Ken DukeKen Duke, a professional golfer who was born in Hope, grew up in Arkadelphia and played college golf at Henderson State University. Duke, who now lives in Florida, turned professional in 1994. In June, Duke won the Travelers Championship, beating Chris Stroud with a birdie on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff. It was Duke’s first PGA Tour win. He also has two wins on the Nationwide Tour and two wins on the Canadian Tour. As a seventh grader, Duke was diagnosed with scoliosis. Doctors at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock determined that he had a 26 percent curvature of the spine and advised him to wear a back brace 23 hours a day. He underwent surgery two years later after the curvature reached 51 percent. Surgeons attached a 16-inch metal rod to his spine, but Duke returned to his high school golf team within months. Duke was inducted into the Arkansas Golf Hall of Fame in October. His best finish in a major championship came when he tied for 13th in the 2008 PGA Championship. He has made the cut at all four major championships in his career.
  • Bennie FullerBennie Fuller, a former basketball player that Little Rock’s Emogene Nutt (whose late husband Houston Nutt Sr. was the longtime coach at the Arkansas School for the Deaf) once referred to as the “Wilt Chamberlain of the deaf.” Fuller is the all-time leading scorer in Arkansas boys’ high school basketball history and still ranks fourth on the national list. He scored 4,896 points at the Arkansas School for the Deaf from 1968-71. In Arkansas, no one comes close to Fuller for career points. Jim Bryan of Valley Springs is second with 2,792 points from 1955-58, and Allan Pruett of Rector is third with 2,018 points form 1963-66. Fuller is third nationally on the per-game scoring average list. He averaged 50.9 points per game during the 1970-71 season. In 1971, Fuller scored 102 points in a game against Leola that was played at Arkadelphia. Fuller grew up near Hensley, where he learned to shoot a basketball into a hoop made from a bicycle wheel. Fuller played college basketball at Pensacola Junior College in Florida and received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
  • Arkansas Tech UniversityStephanie Strack Mathis, the career scoring leader in women’s basketball at Arkansas Tech University. Mathis, who played high school basketball at St. Joseph in Conway, was a three-time All-American at Arkansas Tech. She scored 2,298 points during her college career. She helped lead the Golden Suns to NAIA national championships in 1992 and 1993. The team that captured the 1992 title had a 35-1 record and closed the season with a 28-game winning streak. That team won each of its final 27 games by double figures, including an 84-68 win over Wayland Baptist in the national championship game. The Golden Suns went 31-5 the following year and repeated as national champions. Mathis scored 670 points that season, including 30 points against Union University in the national championship game. During Mathis’ four years as a Golden Sun, the team went 124-15 overall and 56-6 in Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference play. Tech was 52-3 in home games during Mathis’ four seasons. In high school, she had 1,748 career points at St. Joseph and was a two-time All-State player.
  • Dennis WinstonDennis Winston, a Forrest City native who played high school football at Marianna and later was a linebacker for the Arkansas Razorbacks from 1973-76. Winston was part of a signing class that included 13 black players, the most ever to that point at Arkansas. He went on to play 11 seasons in the NFL for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New Orleans Saints. Winston was a member of Steeler teams that won the Super Bowl following the 1978 and 1979 seasons. He started at left outside linebacker for the injured Jack Ham in Super Bow XIV. He also made history for the Saints in the New Orleans Superdome in November 1984 when he returned an interception 47 yards for a touchdown, leading New Orleans to its first win in prime time on Monday Night Football. Winston began his coaching career in 1992 as Grambling University’s defensive coordinator under the legendary Eddie Robinson, serving in that role for five years. Winston coached the Razorbacks’ outside linebackers in 1997, Danny Ford’s final season as head coach. Winston later was an assistant coach at Arkansas State University and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. He served this year as the interim head coach at Grambling.

Those being inducted from the senior category are:

  • Wynne YellowjacketsDon Campbell, a longtime high school football coach who had stints at Corning, Sheridan and Wynne. Campbell, a Forrest City native who graduated from college at Henderson, was a head coach for 10 years at Corning, five years at Sheridan and 16 years at Wynne. He had an overall record of 257-98-6. His teams won 16 district championships along with state championships at Wynne in 2001 and 2004. In 1987, he was awarded the Lowell Manning Award as the state’s outstanding coach. He was selected for the Arkansas High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2008, a year after having received the first Paul Eells Award from the Arkansas chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame. Campbell, who served on the all-star football coaching staff nine times (five of those times he was the head coach of the East squad), was inducted into the Henderson Hall of Honor in 2010.
  • Alvy EarlyAlvy Early, whose more than 1,000 career wins as a women’s basketball and softball coach make him one of the state’s most successful college coaches ever. Before he became a coach at the University of Arkansas at Monticello, Early was a three-sport star at the school, earning letters in football, baseball and tennis. He was a successful high school coach at West Fork before returning to his college alma mater in 1979 to become the women’s head basketball coach. In 21 seasons, his teams went 425-211. He produced 11 All-Americans, won or shared four AIC titles and led the Cotton Blossoms to the national championship game in 1990. Early became UAM’s softball coach in 1997 and immediately built a powerhouse. In 2000, the Blossoms won the first of five consecutive Gulf South Conference West Division championships. They won two more division titles before UAM joined the Great American Conference in 2011. Early promptly led the Blossoms to the first GAC regular-season championship and the league’s first postseason tournament title.
  • UCA BearsKen Stephens, who was a star athlete at Conway High School and what’s now the University of Central Arkansas. As a coach, Stephens won titles at the high school and collegiate levels. In 1972, Stephens took over a UCA football program that had suffered three consecutive losing sesons. Four years later, the Bears were playing for the NAIA national championship. Stephens’ UCA teams won AIC championships in 1976, 1978, 1980 and 1981. He left UCA in 1982 with a 67-35-6 record after being hired to coach at Lamar University in Texas. Stephens became the head coach at Arkansas Tech in 1985 and retired in 1992. As the head football coach at North Little Rock High School from 1963-70, Stephens’ teams won three state championships. He was the Arkansas High School Coaches Association’s coach of the year in 1966 and was given the Lowell Manning Award in 1967. He served as an assistant football coach at the University of Arkansas for one season in 1971 prior to taking the UCA job.

Those being inducted from the posthumous category are:

  • Jim BarnesJim Barnes, a Tuckerman native who played basketball for what’s now the University of Texas at El Paso before being chosen by the New York Knicks as the first selection in the 1964 NBA draft. Barnes, who was nicknamed “Bad News,” was named to the 1965 NBA All-Rookie team and played seven seasons in the NBA for five teams – the Knicks, the Baltimore Bullets, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Chicago Bulls and the Boston Celtics. He scored 3,997 career points. Barnes averaged 8.8 points per game in the NBA. He averaged 15.5 points per game for the Knicks during the 1964-65 season. Barnes won an Olympic gold medal as a member of the U.S. team at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Barnes, who was 6-8, died in September 2002. Barnes had played for Don Haskins at what was then Texas Western and helped establish a program that would go on to shock the college basketball world in 1966 as a team with five black starters upset a University of Kentucky team with five white starters.
  • Harry Vines, a Little Rock native who starred in basketball from 1955-57 at what’s now Little Rock Central High School, earning All-American honors in 1957. Vines played college basketball under Abe Lemons at Oklahoma City University from 1957-61 and was later inducted into the school’s sports Hall of Fame. Vines coached basketball in the public schools at Oklahoma City and Little Rock from 1961-65. But he became best known for his volunteer work, coaching the wheelchair team known as the Arkansas Rollin’ Razorbacks. His wheelchair teams posted 21 winning seasons in his 22 years as the coach and won National Wheelchair Basketball Association championships in 1991, 1993, 1994, 1996 and 2000. Vines also coached a number of basketball teams at the international level. He was inducted into the National Wheelchair Basketball Association Hall of Fame in 2001.

Another honoree at the Feb. 28 banquet will be Ronnie McFarland of Searcy. McFarland is a longtime member of the board of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and has served the organization in numerous capacities through the years. He will receive the William H. “Buddy” Sutton Meritorious Service Award.

The Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame Museum on the west side of Verizon Arena in North Little Rock is open each Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. It includes an 88-seat theater with a video highlighting the careers of Arkansas sports greats, along with a touch-screen kiosk with a database of all Hall of Fame inductees.

Members of the Hall of Fame vote each year on inductees. Membership forms can be obtained here.

Rush Harding to be saluted by Hall of Fame

Rush Harding

Rush Harding

The Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame will hold its annual fall salute on Thursday, Oct. 24, when the organization honors one of the state’s top business and civic leaders, Rush Harding of Little Rock.

The event will begin at 6 p.m. in the Jack Stephens Center on the campus of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Those wishing to purchase tickets should call the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame at (501) 663-4328. Tickets are $125 each with tables of eight available for $1,000.

All proceeds will go to the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. Harding is a longtime member of the organization’s board. Ray Tucker is the Hall of Fame’s executive director. The president is Arkansas Democrat-Gazette sports editor Wally Hall.

“Few people have done more for the Hall of Fame through the years than Rush Harding,” Tucker said. “We’re just one of the many Arkansas organizations he has supported with his time and talents. Rush has friends in all 75 counties of this state and is a worthy honoree.”

Harding is the chief executive officer of the Little Rock-based investment banking firm Crews & Associates Inc. Harding and six partners founded the company in 1979. He has more than three decades of experience in the industry and is recognized as a leading authority on municipal bonds. In addition to serving on the board of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, Harding has served on the University of Central Arkansas Board of Trustees and on the board of the Arkansas Arts Center.

Harding is a Clarendon native. His father, Buddy Harding, was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2002 in recognition of the almost four decades he worked as a successful high school coach. His football teams were 151-57 at Clarendon. The elder Harding also built Clarendon into a track powerhouse.

After graduating from Clarendon High School in the spring of 1972, Rush Harding received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy. He later transferred to what’s now UCA, graduating from college in 1976 as a math and English major. Though his father had found him a job coaching and teaching school at Forrest City, Harding decided to try the investment banking business, joining T.J. Raney & Sons Inc. in Little Rock. He worked there until he left in 1979 to help form Crews & Associates with Adron Crews and the other partners. Since 2000, Crews & Associates has been a wholly owned subsidiary of First Security Bancorp.

This will be the fifth consecutive year for the Hall of Fame to hold a fall salute. Past honorees were Conway businessman Stephen L. Strange Sr., former University of Arkansas basketball star Joe Kleine, former University of Arkansas football star Jim Lindsey and former University of Arkansas track and field coach John McDonnell.

The Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame inducted its first class in 1959.

The Hall of Fame Museum on the west side of Verizon Arena in downtown North Little Rock is open each Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. It includes an 88-seat theater with a video highlighting the careers of Arkansas sports greats and a touch-screen kiosk with a database of all Hall of Fame inductees.

Members of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame vote each year on inductees. Membership forms can be obtained here.

Little Rock Touchdown Club combines forces with Hall of Fame and National Football Foundation

The Little Rock Touchdown Club has joined forces with the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and the Arkansas chapter of the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame to serve more scholar-athletes at the high school and college levels across Arkansas.

Eddie Bradford, a former football player at the University of Arkansas, long had served as the president of the Arkansas NFF chapter from his base in northwest Arkansas. When Bradford decided to step down from his role as chapter president, University of Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long asked another former Razorback, Little Rock Touchdown Club president and central Arkansas media personality David Bazzel, to take on Bradford’s former duties.

“The Little Rock Touchdown Club is excited to have the opportunity to help grow the National Football Foundation chapter in Arkansas,” Bazzel says. “We support the mission of the foundation and look forward to educating football fans across Arkansas about that mission.”

Bazzel then joined forces with Arkansas Democrat-Gazette sports editor Wally Hall, the president of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, to come up with a plan for offering joint memberships in the Hall of Fame, the Little Rock Touchdown Club and the NFF Arkansas chapter. The joint memberships can be purchased at the weekly meetings of the Little Rock Touchdown Club.

The Little Rock Touchdown Club recently began its 10th season with new Arkansas head football coach Bret Bielema as the speaker. More than 700 people were in attendance at that meeting. The club meets each Monday for lunch during the football season. Speakers scheduled for later in the fall include former college head coaches Tom Osborne, Gene Chizik and Houston Nutt.

In February 2014, the NFF Arkansas chapter and the Little Rock Touchdown Club will join forces for an awards banquet that will honor high school and college players from across the state. Lou Holtz, a 1983 inductee into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, will be the featured speaker at that banquet.

A new national award will be given during the banquet. The Cliff Harris Award will go to the top small college defensive player in the country. Players from any NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III or NAIA school will be eligible for the award. Harris, an Arkansas native and Ouachita Baptist University graduate, played in five Super Bowls as the starting free safety for the Dallas Cowboys during the 1970s. He was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1985.

The Cliff Harris Award was officially announced during a Touchdown Club meeting Aug. 26 at which former Harris teammates Roger Staubach, Mel Renfro, Charlie Waters and Drew Pearson spoke. Gene Stallings, who was Harris’ position coach at Dallas, and former Cowboys personnel director Gil Brandt were among the other speakers.

Two other new awards that will be presented at the banquet are the Dan Hampton Award, which will go to the top college defensive lineman and top high school defensive lineman in the state, and the Willie Roaf Award, which will go to the top college offensive lineman and the top high school offensive lineman in the state. Hampton was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1992, and Roaf was inducted in 2007.

Hampton and Roaf are both members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and both native Arkansans. Hampton, who is from Jacksonville, played for the University of Arkansas in college before joining the Chicago Bears. Roaf, who is from Pine Bluff, played for Louisiana Tech University in college before playing for the New Orleans Saints and the Kansas City Chiefs of the NFL.

“The joint membership in the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, the Little Rock Touchdown Club and the NFF Arkansas chapter has proved to be extremely popular,” Bazzel says. “I have no doubt that these organizations will soon have their largest memberships ever.”

Hendrix Returns to Football

In the final game of the 1960 football season, the Hendrix Warriors defeated the Ouachita Tigers, 7-6, in Arkadelphia.

Hendrix College WarriorsHere’s how the Ouachita yearbook later described the game: “A large crowd, enjoying shirtsleeve weather, saw the two teams battle evenly through most of the game even though Ouachita passed up several golden opportunities to win the tilt. Hendrix drew first blood near the end of the first quarter on a long drive climaxed by a 12-yard jaunt to pay dirt by quarterback Cloyd Baltimore. Johnny Turner then added what was to prove to be the winning margin with the conversion.

“In the first quarter, Ouachita threw away what appeared to be a sure touchdown when Warrior end Mike Smith pounced on a Ouachita fumble. Later Tiger drives reached the 35- and 25-yard-lines of the visitors before being stymied. Ouachita finally scored late in the fourth period through the arm of quarterback Larry Pugh, who riddled the Warrior defense with passes. The tall freshman threw a 25-yard payoff pitch to halfback Tom Murphree in the end zone. However, end Carl Babcock of Hendrix blocked Ouachita’s attempt to tie the score.”

No Hendrix College team has played a football game since that day.

That will change on the afternoon of Saturday, Sept. 7, when Hendrix hosts Westminster College from Missouri. Hendrix graduates are excited about the return of football to the school. Few people are more excited than those who once played football for the Warriors.

Ron Pyle was a member of that 1960 Hendrix team. He’s among those who believe it’s high time for intercollegiate football to be played again at the small Methodist school following a 53-year hiatus.

“I guess you could say that Hendrix has a one-game winning streak going into this year,” Pyle says, referring to the 1960 win over Ouachita. “Through the years, many of us have stayed close, and all of us regret not being able to come back for another season. A strong bond was established. It’s very satisfying to see the return of football at Hendrix. I learned the lessons of facing adversity, never giving up and working with teammates as a Hendrix football player.”

Pyle, who transferred to Hendrix his sophomore year, says the team was small – both in numbers and individual size.

“There weren’t a lot of us, and we only had one really big lineman, Marvin Gillham,” he says. “We generally were underdogs, but every game we played was with a sense of determination. We played to win. One moment of brief success occurred during my junior year when we went to play Arkansas Tech, which was an Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference powerhouse at the time. We had worked on a trick play for a kick return. My job was to drift to the left. Jerry Jeffries would receive, go right and draw the Tech defense to him. He would then pull up and pass the ball across the field to me. The pass had to qualify as a lateral. It worked perfectly. I followed Marvin 80 yards for a touchdown. We led Tech at the half, 7-6. The Tech coach was not happy, and we could see him chewing out his team, in particular an All-American named ‘Tiger’ McClellan.

“Tech kicked off after the half. There were 20 Hendrix and Tech players on the left sideline for the return and just two players on the right, me and a very angry ‘Tiger’ McClellan. He punished me severely. I didn’t care. We eventually lost, 26-7, but for a half it was great.”

The game was an afternoon contest in Russellville. Powell ‘Tiger’ McClellan was named as a second-team Little All-America as an end that year. The NAIA picked offensive and defensive All-America teams for the first time that season, and McClellan was named to the first team as a linebacker. As a senior in 1961, McClellan moved up to first team Little All-America as an end. He was named first-team NAIA All-America as a defensive end.

Longtime Little Rock CPA Jim Rasco, who is a Hendrix graduate and serves as the historian for the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, attended the game in Russellville. He vividly remembers the play on which Pyle scored.

“What Tech didn’t know was that Hendrix really didn’t have a placekicker at that time,” Rasco says. “Hendrix lined up for the extra point kick, but the ball was snapped to kicker Mike Smith. He then passed the ball to a wide open Jerry Carter for the extra point. There were no two-point conversions under NAIA rules in 1960 so Hendrix led 7-6 at the half. ‘Tiger’ McClellan blocked at least two of Carter’s punts in the second half.”

Hendrix began playing football in the early 1900s. The original mascot was the Bulldogs. The old American Indian image for the Hendrix Warriors has given way to a sort of Celtic warrior in recent years. Despite all the changes, there’s a solid football tradition at the school.

Charles Tadlock of Sheridan, who played at Hendrix in the late 1950s, says he has “always been jealous of my Ouachita friends who have had the opportunity to attend football games at their alma mater on fine fall Saturday afternoons.”

Now, Hendrix graduates such as Rasco, Tadlock and Pyle will be able to enjoy the experience.

“The 1920s and 1930s were outstanding periods for Hendrix sports with numerous all-sports stars and games against major universities,” Tadlock says. “The AIC got stronger after World War II with some of the colleges going from having two-year programs to having four-year programs. As scholarships increased at the other schools, Hendrix found it harder to compete and dropped football for the 1956 season. The sport was reinstated in 1957 with half-tuition scholarships.

“The team gradually improved from 1-7 the first year back to 3-5-1 in that fourth season of 1960. There were 22 freshmen in 1957. Only four of those players were still on the team in 1960. There were about 40 total players. Things appeared to be pretty bright for the 1961 season, but the school dropped the sport due to financial troubles. Most of the players were bitter about the end of the football program. During the 53 years when there were no football teams, Hendrix went from being an NAIA school with six sports to being an NCAA Division III school with 21 sports.”

Jeffries, a member of the 1960 team, says that while it’s not the old AIC, “it’s still 11 men against 11 men. I think having football again will round out the Hendrix experience for the young men who play. They’ll get the education Hendrix is noted for and a chance to continue playing a game they love. I have no doubt it will be a first-class program all the way.”

In the trophy case of the school’s ultramodern Wellness & Athletic Center, there’s a football that was used in a 7-6 Hendrix victory over Ouachita. It’s not from that final game of 1960, though. It’s from a Nov. 1, 1929, game that marked the first Hendrix win over Ouachita in 19 years. While plenty of people are around who remember the 1960 victory, it obviously would be much more difficult to find anyone who was at the 1929 game.

Meanwhile, there’s no one left to give an account of perhaps the most momentous win in the history of the Hendrix football program, a 1913 victory over Ole Miss. One of the best teams ever at Hendrix later would play a scoreless tie with Ole Miss in 1927. Hendrix played the University of Arkansas in football several times. The Arkansas-Hendrix game was billed in 1926 by newspapers as the “state championship,” and the Razorbacks won, 14-7. The Razorbacks then defeated Hendrix, 20-7, in the final game of the 1927 season. Hendrix never beat the Razorbacks but did hold the Hogs to scoreless ties in 1920 and 1932.

The most famous figure in Hendrix football history probably was Coach Ivan Grove. The legendary coach spent two years in the Army during World War 1, graduating from Henry Kendall College (now the University of Tulsa), where he led the nation in scoring. Francis Schmidt (who compiled a record of 41-21-3 as the Razorback head coach from 1922-28) had been Grove’s high school coach at Arkansas City, Kan. Schmidt was an assistant at Henry Kendall when Grove played there. After college, Grove coached two years at Oklahoma Baptist College and then was hired by Schmidt as an assistant coach of the Razorbacks. At age 30 in 1924, Grove took over at Hendrix and coached until 1957. From 1924-27, his Hendrix teams went 23-9-3.

Despite Grove’s later success, the 1913 win over Ole Miss still stands out as a landmark victory in the annals of Hendrix football.

“Ole Miss, the gridiron team which is dreaded by all Southern colleges, will arrive in Conway for a battle with the Hendrix College football aggregation,” the Log Cabin Democrat at Conway reported at the time. “The record on the scalping path made by Ole Miss this season, as well as past seasons, is a source of much pleasure to their fellow students, while on the other hand they invariably leave many mourners behind them.”

The writer didn’t have that kind of praise for the Hendrix football team.

Instead, he wrote: “Hendrix continues to go through practice antics every afternoon, but there is a noticeable lack of pep and ginger among the squad.”

By the week of the game, though, the Log Cabin Democrat was beating the drums: “The most stupendous football game played in Arkansas this season will be staged tomorrow afternoon at 3:30 o’clock on Hendrix field between the elevens representing the University of Mississippi of Oxford, Miss., and Hendrix College of this city. Never before in the history of the gridiron pastime has there been more enthusiasm among the people – not only of this city but over the state – than has been displayed already over tomorrow’s engagement. On every corner, in every store, in every nook – and, in fact, at every place where there are as many as two persons – the sole topic of conversation concerns tomorrow’s football game.”

By the time the sun had set on Conway on Nov. 7, 1913, Hendrix had come away with a stunning 8-6 victory.

Southern Methodist University had fielded its first team in 1913, losing the first game to TCU and then beating Hendrix by a score of 13-2 in the second game in school history. Ole Miss was not so lucky. More than 200 Hendrix male students – accompanied by the school’s band — marched through downtown Conway that night after the win over Ole Miss. The men were dressed in pajamas. They made their way to Central College, a school for women that was located on what’s now the campus of Central Baptist College. Women waved at them from the windows of their rooms.

On the first Saturday in September – a century after that victory over Ole Miss – Hendrix will host a college football game. It’s doubtful that the male members of the student body will parade through the streets of Conway if the Warriors defeat Westminster. But there’s no doubt that excitement is building in Conway.

Vance Strange, a former University of Central Arkansas athletic director and a former president of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, says it best when it comes to the buildup to the 2013 Hendrix season. Strange, who played football at Hendrix, often has his morning coffee at Bob’s Grill, the venerable eatery on Oak Street in downtown Conway where local residents gather to talk sports, politics and the weather. Strange uses something he calls the “Bob’s Grill gauge” to monitor what interests folks in the area.

“At Bob’s, I can assure you that people are excited about Hendrix football,” he says matter of factly.

It should be noted that the Bob’s Grill gauge is rarely wrong.

– Rex Nelson

Harris, Hampton, Roaf to be honored

Three inductees into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame recently had awards named for them by the Little Rock Touchdown Club.

Dan Hampton, Willie Roaf, Cliff Harris

Dan Hampton, Willie Roaf, Cliff Harris

The awards will be presented when the Touchdown Club holds its annual postseason awards banquet in January.

The Cliff Harris Award will be presented to the top small college defensive player in the country. Harris is a member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame Class of 1985.

The Dan Hampton Award will be presented to the top Arkansas high school defensive lineman and the top Arkansas collegiate defensive lineman. Hampton is a member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame Class of 1992. A selection panel of media representatives will join Hampton in selecting the winner.

The Willie Roaf Award will be presented to the top Arkansas high school offensive lineman and the top Arkansas collegiate offensive lineman. Roaf is a member of the Hall of Fame Class of 2007. A selection panel of media representatives will join Roaf in selecting the winner.

The speaker at the Touchdown Club awards banquet will be Lou Holtz, a member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame Class of 1983.

Players from NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III and the NAIA will be eligible for the Cliff Harris Award. There will be 10 finalists and a winner chosen by a selection committee with input from head coaches representing all three divisions.

The selection committee for the Cliff Harris Award will consist of Harris along with Roger Staubach, Lee Roy Jordan, Walt Garrison, Gene Stallings, Jackie Smith, Drew Pearson, Rayfield Wright, Everson Walls, Charlie Waters, Bill Bates, Gil Brandt, Mel Renfro and Jim Hart. The selection committee represents:

  • 45 Super Bowl appearances
  • 54 Pro Bowl appearances
  • 39 All-Pro selections
  • Four Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees
  • Three College Football Hall of Fame inductees
  • Six members of the Cowboys Ring of Honor
  • A Heisman Trophy winner and a Super Bowl most valuable player

“I’m extremely excited about the opportunity to recognize the most outstanding defensive players from small colleges across the country,” Harris said. “As a small college player myself at Ouachita Baptist University, I always understood that recognition and respect for outstanding play was more difficult to attain. Because of this, I relied on perseverance and mental toughness.”

Harris was born in Fayetteville, spent most of his formative years in Hot Springs and graduated from high school at Des Arc. He played multiple sports growing up but received little interest from college recruiters. A family friend convinced second-year Ouachita head coach Buddy Benson (a member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame Class of 1993) that Harris deserved a chance to play college football.

Harris made a name for himself in the Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference from 1966-69. Harris’ father had starred in football at Ouachita in the 1940s.

Harris was overlooked in the 1970 NFL draft. But Gil Brandt, who headed the legendary scouting operation for the Dallas Cowboys, was well aware of the player at the small school in Arkadelphia. Harris, in fact, won a starting position with the Cowboys as a rookie in 1970. His rookie season was interrupted by a tour of duty in the U.S. Army, but Harris wasted no time regaining his starting position following his military commitment.

During the next decade, the hard-hitting Harris changed the way the position of free safety was played in the NFL. He rarely left the field, often leading the team not only in interceptions but also in yardage on kickoff and punt returns. In just 10 years as a Cowboy, Harris played in five Super Bowls (the Cowboys won two of them), was named to the Pro Bowl six times and was named a first-team All-NFL player for four consecutive seasons by both The Associated Press and the Pro Football Writers Association.

Harris was inducted into the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor in 2004. He also was named to the Dallas Cowboys Silver Season All-Time Team and was selected by Sports Illustrated as the free safety on the magazine’s All-Time Dream Team. Harris was awarded the NFL Alumni Legends Award. For years, the Cliff Harris Celebrity Golf Tournament has been one of the leading charity events in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Of the Dan Hampton Award, Hampton said: “From the beginning to the end I was blessed with great teammates and terrific coaching. But I am proud to say the one true quality that I valued above all others was a relentless will to win. Great talent is a blessing from God, but desire is self-administered.”

An injury caused by an accident kept Hampton out of organized sports in junior high, but he made up for lost time during his junior and senior years at Jacksonville High School. Playing for Bill Reed’s Red Devils, Hampton caught the eye of the University of Arkansas coaching staff and went on to star on defense for the Razorbacks at the end of the Frank Broyles era and the start of the Lou Holtz era. He was a four-year letterman at Arkansas, a three-year starter and a two-time All-Southwest Conference selection. Hampton was named to the Razorback All-Decade team of the 1970s.

Hampton made his mark as a freshman with 21 tackles in 1975. He had 48 tackles and recovered two fumbles as a sophomore. His tackle total rose to 70 as a junior. Hampton earned All-American honors his senior season with 98 tackles. He was the Southwest Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 1978 and was the Chicago Bears’ No. 1 pick (the fourth pick overall) in the 1979 NFL draft.

Hampton made an immediate impact as a rookie when he had 70 tackles, 48 of which were solo efforts, and recovered two fumbles. Hampton would be a first- or second-team All-Pro choice six times as either a defensive end or tackle. Nicknamed “Danimal” for his ferocious style of play, Hampton played 12 seasons for the Bears despite 10 knee surgeries and numerous other injuries.

Hampton retired in 1990, having become just the second Bear to play in three different decades. He was inducted into the University of Arkansas’ Sports Hall of Honor in 1991, the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

Of the Willie Roaf Award, Roaf said: “It’s amazing to think a kid like me from Pine Bluff, barely recruited to college and signing with a program just entering Division I, could end up one of the best to play the game at my position. It shows young football players from Arkansas that with a lot of hard work and great character you can achieve anything. I had great coaches and teammates along the way to help guide me. I always competed hard and strived to be the best.”

Roaf, the son of dentist Clifton Roaf and the late Judge Andree Layton Roaf, is quick to note that his mother would have preferred that he become an attorney or doctor. He drew so little interest from college recruiters coming out of Pine Bluff High School that he considered switching from football to basketball. Finally, he decided to play football at Louisiana Tech University, where his career took off. After a stellar professional career, Roaf was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012.

Roaf was 6-4 and weighed 220 pounds when he went to Louisiana Tech, small for a college offensive lineman. By his sophomore season, Roaf was 6-5 and weighed 300 pounds. Louisiana Tech played Alabama, Baylor, South Carolina, Ole Miss, West Virginia and Southern Mississippi during his senior season, allowing professional scouts plenty of opportunities to watch Roaf play. He was picked in the first round of the 1993 NFL draft by the New Orleans Saints. Roaf was the eighth selection overall and the first offensive lineman to be drafted.

Roaf spent the first nine years of a 13-year NFL career with the Saints. He started 131 games for New Orleans and helped the franchise to its first playoff win, a 2000 victory over the defending Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams. A torn ligament in his right knee forced Roaf to miss the second half of the 2001 season. He was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs, where he made the Pro Bowl in each of his four seasons.

Roaf was voted to the Pro Bowl 11 times in 13 seasons, tied with Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz for the most Pro Bowl appearances by an offensive tackle. He earned a spot on the NFL All-Decade teams for both the 1990s and the 2000s. Roaf also was inducted into the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame in 2008 and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.

– Rex Nelson

Jones, Sutton, Christian receive honors

Three men who have helped build the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame through the years – Jerry Jones, W.H. “Buddy” Sutton and Don Christian – will receive major honors later this year.

Buddy Sutton, Don Christian, Jerry Jones

Buddy Sutton, Don Christian, Jerry Jones

In October, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will be a charter inductee into the National Football Foundation Leadership Hall of Fame. Jones will be honored Oct. 3 during an event at the Omni Dallas Hotel. Jones grew up in North Little Rock and played football at the University of Arkansas.

Sutton and Christian, meanwhile, will be inducted into the University of Arkansas’ Sports Hall of Honor during a banquet Aug. 30 at the Holiday Inn Convention Center at Springdale. The two men also will be recognized the next day during the half of Arkansas’ season-opening football game against Louisiana-Lafayette at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.

Jones was the lead contributor to the campaign that resulted in construction of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame Museum in the Verizon Arena at North Little Rock. He was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1999.

Sutton headed the Hall of Fame Foundation for many years. In that role, the Little Rock attorney led the fundraising effort for the museum. In recognition of his efforts, he was named an honorary inductee into the Hall of Fame in 2003. The only other honorary inductee in the organization’s history is former baseball star Joe Garagiola, who served as the master of ceremonies for the first eight Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame induction banquets. Garagiola received the honor in 1985.

Christian served as the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame president in 1994-95.

Archie Manning, the National Football Foundation chairman, said of Jones: “Jerry Jones has established himself as one of our nation’s top businessmen with a desire to win that is eclipsed by no one. He honed his leadership skills early in life as an All-Southwest Conference player for Hall of Fame coach Frank Broyles on the 1964 national championship Razorback team, and he has built on those successes ever since. We are thrilled to have him as a charter NFF Leadership Hall of Fame inductee.”

The National Football Foundation announced the creation of the NFF Leadership Hall of Fame in May. Jones will join George Pyne, who is the president of IMG Worldwide Sports & Entertainment, as a charter inductee into the Leadership Hall of Fame.

“Jerry Jones cares deeply about the future of football, and he has been a great supporter for the NFF and its mission to protect the game for subsequent generations,” said Steve Hatchell, the NFF president. “He fully understands the power the sport commands in our society today, and he knows firsthand the value the sport can play in transforming young lives by teaching valuable lifelong lessons and creating educational opportunities.”

In addition to his induction into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, Jones was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 1998, the Texas Business Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 2007. As a co-captain of the 1964 Arkansas football team, Jones is one of the few NFL owners who had a high level of success as a football player. He’s the only person to ever play for a national college championship football team and own a Super Bowl winner. Jones and the legendary George Halas are the only two men to have become NFL owners after playing in a major college football bowl game.

The National Football Foundation was founded in 1947 with early leadership from Little Rock native Douglas MacArthur, Army coach Earl “Red” Blaik and journalist Grantland Rice.

Sutton played on the freshman team at Arkansas in 1949 and then lettered under head coach Otis Douglas from 1950-52. Sutton was a team captain and the school’s student body president as a senior. In 1952, Sutton led the Razorbacks in rushing with 448 yards and three touchdowns on 100 carries. He also returned five kicks for 143 yards that season. His best game came against Tulsa when he rushed for 164 yards and a touchdown.

Sutton played in the Blue-Gray Game and the Senior Bowl following his senior season. The Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame presents the W.H. “Buddy” Sutton Meritorious Service Award each year in his honor.

Christian played on the freshman team at Arkansas in 1953, was redshirted in 1954 and then lettered from 1955-57 under head coach Jack Mitchell. He had four interceptions in 1955 to lead the Southwest Conference. He also averaged 27.7 yards on kickoff returns. Christian split time with George Walker in 1955. Christian played almost every snap in 1956 when Walker missed the season due to injury. Christian led Arkansas in passing with 260 yards on 18 completions and two touchdowns. He also led the team in total offense with 672 yards.

As a senior, when he again split time with Walker, Christian had 610 yards of total offense, scored four touchdowns and had one interception. He also returned punts.

The Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame inducted its first class in 1959. The Class of 2013 was inducted in March at Verizon Arena with more than 1,000 people in attendance at the induction banquet.

Ray Tucker is the executive director of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and longtime Arkansas Democrat-Gazette sports editor Wally Hall is the organization’s president.

The Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame Museum on the west side of Verizon Arena is open each Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4:40 p.m. It includes an 88-seat theater with a video highlighting the careers of Arkansas sports greats along with a touch-screen kiosk with a database of all Hall of Fame inductees. Dues-paying members of the Hall of Fame vote each year on inductees.

– Rex Nelson

Hendrix, Lyon Add Football

There were only 35 football players on the team at Arkansas College in Batesville in the fall of 1949. Marcus Kaufman, who had been born in 1919 and was a graduate of Ouachita Baptist University, was the school’s head football coach. Kaufman also coached the basketball team at the small, Presbyterian-affiliated institution now known as Lyon College.

Lyon-College-football-helmetIn the fall of 1950, there were again about 35 players out for football. Soon after that season, the school’s board of trustees decided to drop the sport. Kaufman moved to Pine Bluff High School, where he was an assistant football coach for George “Bubba” Terry, a 1976 inductee into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. Terry, who had been a three-sport star at what’s now the University of the Ozarks at Clarksville, compiled a 49-12 record at Pine Bluff. When he left Pine Bluff in the spring of 1954 to be an assistant coach at LSU, Kaufman moved up to head coach of the Zebras.

For more than six decades, there has been no college football in Batesville. That’s about to change.

School officials announced last month that Lyon will field a football team in the fall of 2015. Speaking to a crowd of almost 100 people at the Edwards Commons on the campus, Lyon president Donald Weatherman said the school expects at least 65 football players will begin attending the school in the fall of 2014. The hope is that there will be 100 players on campus by the fall of 2015.

Perry Wilson of Little Rock, the chairman of the Lyon board of trustees, said the addition of football will bring additional revenue to the school, lead to an enrollment increase and excite alumni and the community. Lyon will be the only school in the state competing at the NAIA level.

The Lyon announcement comes as Hendrix College prepares for its first football season since 1960. The Warriors, who will play at the NCAA Division III level, will take on Westminster College from Fulton, Mo., in Conway on the afternoon of Saturday, Sept. 7.

Hendrix will have the only NCAA Division III football program in the state. Neither Lyon nor Hendrix will award athletic scholarships. Once Lyon adds football, every college that once had football in the old Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference will again be fielding teams with the exception of Ozarks.

Two Arkansas schools – the University of Arkansas and Arkansas State University – play in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision. The University of Central Arkansas and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff compete in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision.

Six Arkansas schools – Arkansas Tech University, Henderson State University, Ouachita Baptist University, Harding University, the University of Arkansas at Monticello and Southern Arkansas University – play at the NCAA Division II level. Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock fields a junior college football team.

The addition of football programs at Hendrix and Lyon follows a national trend. At many liberal arts schools, the male-female ratio has become skewed with the percentage of female students often topping 60 percent. The sudden injection of dozens of new male students to play football addresses that gender gap. It also can add diversity at schools with low numbers of black students. Studies also show that male students – even those who don’t play – prefer to attend colleges with football programs.

Consider the example of Stevenson University in the Baltimore suburbs of Maryland, which added football in the fall of 2011.

“Stevenson was another small liberal arts school with a surplus of female students,” Daniel de Vise wrote prior to the 2011 season in The Washington Post. “Women outnumbered men two to one, an extreme example of the imbalance that pervades higher education. Then came football. … The program has drawn 130 players, raising the male share of the freshman class from 34 to 39 percent in a single year at the 3,075-student university.

“The suburban Baltimore school is one of at least a dozen small, private colleges in the United States that have added or rebuilt football programs in the past three years, usually with the dual purpose of feeding the bottom line and narrowing the gender gap. For many small, regional colleges facing a bleak admissions landscape, the gridiron is a beacon of hope. The college-age population is leveling off. The economy is sluggish. Private colleges must offer ever-larger tuition discounts to fill the freshman class.”

On the West Coast, Pacific University in Oregon resumed playing football in 2010 for the first time in 19 years. The team attracted 130 players, increasing the male share of the student body from 35 to 40 percent at the 1,600-student school. In North Carolina, Campbell University attracted 100 new male students when it added football in 2008 after half a century without the sport.

Hendrix officials expect 60 to 65 players to be a part of this year’s team. Buck Buchanan, the school’s head coach, says he hopes to have 100 players in the program at some point.

In Florida, Warner University at Lake Wales begins football this fall. There has been an increase in admissions at the NAIA school, which is affiliated with the Church of God of Anderson, Ind. The school has 1,100 students.

Nearby Southeastern University, also an NAIA institution, will add football in 2014. Southeastern, which is affiliated with the Assemblies of God, has about 2,300 students in Lakeland.

“When we did a feasibility study, we saw enrollment rise because people want to be a part of a school that has football,” Southeastern athletic director Drew Watson told The Ledger newspaper.

Watson said last month that he has 92 deposits from potential football players. Applications have risen from 583 last year to 725 this year.

Nationally, 17 colleges and universities are set to launch football programs between this year and 2015. Twenty-eight other schools have begun football programs since 2008.

“It’s exciting to see the launch of these programs because they’re giving players the opportunity of playing at different levels in regions of the country where those options didn’t previously exist,” says Steven Hatchell, the president of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame. “Football’s popularity has never been greater, and the fact that so many schools are embracing it is a testament that more and more college administrators see the value of the sport to a student’s overall educational experience.”

The University of the Incarnate Word, the San Antonio school against which UCA will begin its season in Conway on Aug. 29, didn’t have football until 2009. Across town, the University of Texas at San Antonio added football in 2011. The opening game at the Alamodome that year against Northeastern State from Oklahoma drew 56,743 fans. Elsewhere in Texas, Lamar University at Beaumont revived its football program in 2010 after a 21-year hiatus (Ken Stephens of Conway was the Lamar head coach in the earlier incarnation) and Wayland Baptist University at Plainview began playing in 2012.

Since 1978, when the NCAA changed its method for tracking attendance figures, the number of schools playing NCAA football has increased by 154 schools.

Georgia State at Atlanta, which launched its program in 2010, saw annual donations to the athletic department grow from $32,000 in 2009 to $600,000 last year. The team drew 30,237 fans to its inaugural game in the Georgia Dome. South Alabama at Mobile, which first fielded a club team in 2009, sells more than 8,000 season tickets each year in football-mad Alabama. The school’s enrollment has grown from 13,000 in 2006 to more than 15,000.

Campbell in North Carolina, a Southern Baptist school, also has seen enrollment gains.

“The return of college football to Campbell energized the entire campus community,” athletic director Bob Roller told the National Football Foundation. “We have enjoyed tremendous support from our students, alumni and the surrounding counties. … It was absolutely the correct move by our administration.”

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte is among the schools adding football this year. The first game will be on Aug. 31 against Campbell.

“Your academic opportunities open up when you’re perceived as an institution of significance and quality, and if you do football right, you’ll be able to help achieve that,” says Philip Dubois, the school’s chancellor. “If you do it wrong, it can be counterproductive. So you have to be very cautious, measured and deliberate about what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. But I do think if the corporate leaders, the business leaders and the employers of the Charlotte region see UNC-Charlotte as an institution of significance and quality, they’ll be more anxious to employ our students, have them as interns and to talk with our faculty about research projects.”

Judy Rose, the school’s athletic director, points out that college athletics at all levels is being driven by football.

“I have thought for a long time that the landscape of intercollegiate athletics was going to change,” she says. “My concern has been what would happen to a large public institution that did not have football. My fear has been that schools that don’t have football might get left out of the mix in intercollegiate athletics. I would hate to have seen not having football become a major issue for our institution. The main reason for us to add football was to protect the rest of our athletic program.”

She notes that conference realignments are because of football, not basketball or other sports.

“This is all driven by football,” Rose says.

Dubois adds: “I don’t think that there’s any question that football has significant marketing value for us. That will help us over time when we’re trying to place students in internships and open job opportunities for them. I’m really hopeful that football will frankly be a gateway to more important things.”

Back in Arkansas, David Knight of Stephens Inc. at Little Rock chairs the Hendrix board of trustees. He’s quick to list the benefits for Hendrix.

“Scholar-athletes are an important part of our student body,” Knight says. “The fact we didn’t offer football was affecting us both demographically and from an admissions standpoint. There are many excellent high school students in Arkansas and across the country who fit the Hendrix academic program very well yet go other places because we didn’t offer the sport they love to play. The first-year football players we are signing up bear this out. We anticipate that the addition of football and women’s lacrosse will be beneficial to the college based on research completed before the board approved adding the sports. The research indicated that student-athletes tend to do well in their studies and have higher retention and graduation rates than the overall student population.”

– Rex Nelson

Bielema to Headline Hall of Fame Events

Bret Bielema

Bret Bielema (courtesy Univ. of Arkansas / Walt Beazley)

On the evening of Sunday, May 19, new University of Arkansas head football coach Bret Bielema will speak during the “Talking Football” dinner at Chenal Country Club’s St. Andrews Ballroom in Little Rock. The dinner will begin at 6 p.m.

On Monday, May 20, the 15th annual Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame Celebrity Golf Classic will be headlined by Bielema at Chenal Country Club.

Tables of 10 for the Hall of Fame’s “Talking Football” dinner are $2,000. Individual tickets are $200.

Those desiring to purchase dinner tickets should call the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame at (501) 663-4328.

On May 20, lunch for golfers will be served at 11:30 a.m. with a 1 p.m. tee time. Awards will be presented following the tournament.

The Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame Celebrity Golf Classic and the Sunday night dinner long have been among the premier sports events in the state, featuring past inductees into the Hall of Fame and other sports celebrities. A number of past inductees already have committed to play in this year’s tournament and attend the Sunday night dinner. The proceeds from the events will benefit the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.

The official hotel of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame is the Wyndham Riverfront Hotel in North Little Rock. Out-of-town guests needing room reservations should call (501) 371-9000.

Bielema was named as the head coach at Arkansas in early December. He has taken the state by storm since then with his outgoing personality and his sense of confidence. As head coach at the University of Wisconsin, Bielema had a 68-24 record and took the Badgers to three consecutive Rose Bowls.

Several members of Bielema’s coaching staff will join him for the Sunday night dinner and the Celebrity Golf Classic.

The Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame inducted its first class in 1959. The Class of 2013 was inducted in March at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock with more than 1,000 people in attendance at the induction banquet.

Ray Tucker is the executive director of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette sports editor Wally Hall is the organization’s president.

The Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame Museum on the west side of Verizon Arena is open each Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. It includes an 88-seat theater with a video highlighting the careers of Arkansas sports greats along with a touch-screen kiosk with a database of all Hall of Fame inductees.

Dues-paying members of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame vote each year on inductees. Membership forms for the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame can be obtained here..

Bielema to Headline Hall of Fame Golf Tournament

Bret Bielema

Bret Bielema (courtesy University of Arkansas / Walt Beazley)

New University of Arkansas head football coach Bret Bielema will headline the 15th annual Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame Celebrity Golf Classic, which will be held Monday, May 20, at Chenal Country Club in Little Rock.

On the evening of Sunday, May 19, Bielema will speak during the “Talking Football” dinner in Chenal Country Club’s St. Andrews Ballroom. The dinner will begin at 6 p.m.

Tables of 10 for the “Talking Football” dinner are $2,000. For the Monday golf tournament, the cost is $2,000 for a four-member team. Each team will be paired with a celebrity. A combination dinner table and golf team is $3,500.

Those desiring to enter teams and purchase dinner tickets should call the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame at (501) 663-4328.

On May 20, lunch for golfers will be served at 11:30 a.m. with a 1 p.m. tee time. Awards will be presented following the tournament.

The Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame Celebrity Golf Classic long has been one of the premier sports events in the state, featuring past inductees into the Hall of Fame and other sports celebrities. A number of past inductees already have committed to play in this year’s tournament. The proceeds from the May events will benefit the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.

The official hotel of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame is the Wyndham Riverfront Hotel in North Little Rock. Out-of-town guests needing room reservations should call (501) 371-9000.

Bielema was named as the head coach at Arkansas in early December. He has taken the state by storm since then with his outgoing personality and his sense of confidence. As head coach at the University of Wisconsin, Bielema had a 68-24 record and took the Badgers to three consecutive Rose Bowls.

Several members of Bielema’s coaching staff will join him for the Celebrity Golf Classic.

The Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame inducted its first claass in 1959. The Class of 2013 was inducted in March at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock with more than 1,000 people in attendance at the induction banquet.

Ray Tucker is the executive director of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette sports editor Wally Hall is the organization’s president.

The Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame Museum on the west side of Verizon Arena is open each Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. It includes an 88-seat theater with a video highlighting the careers of Arkansas sports greats along with a touch-screen kiosk with a database of all Hall of Fame inductees.

Dues-paying members of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame vote each year on inductees. Membership forms can be obtained here.

Hall of Fame Induction Banquet is Tonight

Eight new Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame inductees will be honored Friday night when the Hall of Fame holds its 55th annual induction banquet at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock. A crowd of more than 1,000 people is expected to be in attendance at the induction banquet. The Hall of Fame Class of 2013 consists of eight inductees. The Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame inducted its first class in 1959.

Little Rock insurance executive Andrew Meadors is the organization’s president, and Ray Tucker serves as the executive director. At Friday’s banquet, Wally Hall, the longtime sports editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, will take over as the Hall of Fame president.

The organization also operates the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame Museum on the west side of Verizon Arena. The museum is open each Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. It includes an 88-seat theater with a video highlighting the careers of Arkansas sports greats, along with a touch-screen kiosk with a database of all Hall of Fame inductees.

Members of the Hall of Fame vote each year on inductees. Membership dues are $50 annually. Membership forms can be obtained here.

The Class of 2013 consists of:

  • Marcus Brown, a former basketball star at West Memphis High School who went on to become Murray State University’s third all-time leading scorer with 2,236 points and the leading scorer in Euroleague history with 2,715 points. Brown ended his 13-year professional career with five most valuable player awards. As a high school basketball player, he led West Memphis to the 1991 Class AAAA state championship and the overall championship. In his senior year at Murray State, Brown finished as the nation’s second-leading scorer behind California’s Shareef Abdur-Rahim. He was drafted in the second round of the 1996 NBA draft by Portland. After playing briefly at Portland, Vancouver and Detroit, he became the highest-paid American player ever in the Euroleague.
  • Jeremy Jacobs, the owner of Southland Park at West Memphis, who is among the nation’s top business leaders. Jacobs owns the Boston Bruins of the National Hockey League and frequently makes lists of the country’s most influential sports personalities. Southland Park has been a part of the Arkansas sports scene since 1956 when it became the state’s only greyhound track. The Jacobs family was the original concession operator when the track opened. The family’s Delaware North Corp. later bought the facility. Jacobs has been the chairman of the NHL’s board of governors since 2007. He led the effort to build a new arena in Boston and was a pioneer in the regional television sports industry, transforming NESN into a model for all regional sports networks. Jacobs became the chairman and CEO of Delaware North in 1968. The company operates more than 50 professional sports venues around the world.
  • Former University of Arkansas golfer Stacy Lewis, who was named in December by the Golf Writers Association of America as the 2012 Player of the Year for the LPGA. Lewis won four times in 2012 to become the first American since Beth Daniel in 1994 to finish first on the Rolex Player of the Year points list. She also had three runner-up finishes, including a share of second at the LPGA Championship. Lewis finished third on the LPGA money list in 2012, earning $1.87 million. Lewis, who grew up in The Woodlands, Texas, had a steel rod and five screws placed in her back 10 years ago to correct scoliosis. She was the 2007 NCAA champion and won 13 tournaments at the collegiate level while putting the Arkansas women’s golf program on the map. Lewis earned All-American honors in each of her four years at Arkansas. She won Southeastern Conference championships in 2005 and 2008.
  • Former University of Arkansas track and cross country great Frank O’Mara, who competed for the Irish national team in three Olympic Games – 1984 at Los Angeles, 1988 at Seoul and 1992 at Barcelona. O’Mara is now a Little Rock telecommunications executive, serving as the chief executive officer of Allied Wireless Communications. He is from Limerick, Ireland. He ran for legendary Coach John McDonnell at Arkansas. O’Mara was an All-American and Southwest Conference champion his sophomore and junior years and then became McDonnell’s first outdoor NCAA champion in 1983 when he won the 1,500-meter run at Houston. O’Mara was the world indoor champion twice in the 3,000-meter run. After graduation, he spent three years as a coach for the Razorbacks and was a member of the staff in 1985 when the school won its first NCAA Triple Crown. O’Mara was a professional runner for 15 years.
  • Don Nixon, who had a stellar basketball coaching career at Pulaski Robinson High School, Mabelvale High School, Little Rock Central High School and the University of Central Arkansas. Nixon graduated from Arkansas State Teachers College, now UCA, in 1951 after serving in the U.S. Navy. He coached four basketball teams – junior boys, junior girls, senior boys and senior girls – at what’s now Pulaski Robinson from 1952-54 before moving to his high school alma mater at Mabelvale from 1954-59. After coaching at the junior high level from 1959-67, Nixon coached the boys’ team at Little Rock Central High School from 1968-72 and the men’s team at UCA from 1972-79. Nixon’s Central Tigers won the Class AAAA state championship in 1970 and 1972 along with winning the state’s first overall championship in 1972.
  • Wyn Norwood, who was a two-time Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference golf champion while playing at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville. Norwood went on to win two state amateur titles and participate in 14 national amateur championships. Norwood, a Russellville native, worked at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock from 1992 until his retirement at the end of the 2012 school year. UALR had dropped its men’s golf program in the 1980s and had never had a women’s program before the 1992-93 season. Norwood revived the men’s program and started the women’s program. He spent his first 13 years at UALR as the head coach of both programs. He was named the Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year for both men’s and women’s golf in 1994. Those were the first of five such awards he would earn.
  • The late John Outlaw, who died suddenly of a heart attack in December 2011 following a highly successful high school coaching career in Arkansas and Texas. Outlaw, an Ozark native and a UCA graduate, went 84-20-1 in nine seasons at Arkadelphia, winning state titles in 1979 and 1987. His undefeated 1987 team was the first Arkansas school ever to be ranked in the USA Today Super 25. After moving to Texas, Outlaw’s teams went 57-21-1 at Sherman and 162-46-1 at Lufkin, giving him a 303-87-3 record. He achieved his 300th victory on Oct. 6, 2011, against The Woodlands in a game telecast regionally by Fox Sports Southwest.
  • Sonja Tate, one of the best basketball players to ever wear an Arkansas State University uniform. Tate, who played at ASU from 1989-93, remains the career scoring leader at ASU with 2,312 points. Tate returned to ASU prior to the current season to serve as an assistant coach on the women’s basketball staff. In addition to being the school’s career scoring leader, Tate holds the single-season scoring record with 820 points during the 1992-93 season. She has the top five single-game scoring performances at ASU. Tate remains the only ASU women’s player to have scored 40 or more points in a game, a feat she accomplished five times.
Website Design & Hosting by Smart Media Consulting, LLC
Web site design and hosting by Smart Media Consulting, LLC - Little Rock