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Williamson: Hall of Fame weekend

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By Rod Williamson

Coaches warn their players to not look past the next game but excuse some of us non-playing Commodores for peeking ahead to the weekend of Sept. 12-13. We are playing host to Rice that Saturday evening for what has been designated Hall of Fame Weekend on our campus. We just can't wait for the celebration to begin.

By now you probably are well aware of our inaugural Hall of Fame class of 12 former student-athletes, administrators and civic achievers. We couldn't be more proud, and judging from the comprehensive news coverage our announcement generated last June, the community also recognizes its historic significance.

We have an exciting weekend planned for our inductees that includes a series of luncheons, dinners and introductions. The crown jewel of the weekend is the Hall of Fame Banquet, which will draw a capacity crowd of about 500 Friday night to the Student Life Center to celebrate with our heroes and heroines.

As this issue goes to print, our process of identifying Hall of Fame Banquet sponsors and the sale of tables has gone well and is nearing its conclusion. We expect to have a "sold out" sign hanging up before we get to the big night.

Launching a Hall of Fame is an exciting but time-consuming project. We announced the creation of this program late in 2007 and received public nominations for several months, collecting well over 100 in the process. Gathering the names was easier than whittling them down to 12 because there were simply so many worthy candidates.

Our senior administrative team served as the selection committee this year, in part because we wanted to be sure that this class properly reflected the university's pride in all of its students, staff and programs and not just the most popular ones.

Our result produced some of the biggest stars in our history as one would expect, along with pioneers, important administrators and letterwinners who "turned pro in something other than sports."

Here is our Class of 2008:

Chantelle Anderson, basketball
Peggy Harmon Brady, golf
John Hall, football
Roy Kramer, director of athletics
Clyde Lee, basketball
Dan McGugin, football coach
John Rich, baseball, football
Fred Russell, Nashville Banner sports editor, baseball
June Stewart, administrator
Ryan Tolbert Jackson, track and field
Bill Wade, football
Perry Wallace, basketball

If your all-time favorite Commodore isn't on the list, remember that classes will be inducted annually. There are many "no-brainer" Hall-of-Famers just waiting their turn.

Some have wondered where we plan to house our Hall of Fame. Construction soon will begin on a wonderful, three-story addition to the northwestern corner of McGugin Center, near Jess Neely Drive and Natchez Trace. The Hall of Fame will be beautifully included on the first floor and will be open to the public during normal business hours and special events such as football Saturdays.

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