CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (KMOX) – The University of Illinois on Thursday announced the inaugural class of 28 that’ll be inducted into its athletics hall of fame in September.
Among the class are some Illinois alums with Metro-East ties.
Granite City native Andy Phillip is the only U of I alum elected to the National Basketball Hall of Fame as a player. His Illini career was highlighted as a three-time consensus All-American and All-Big Ten selection. 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. He died in 2001 at the age of 79.
Former Edwardsville resident Mannie Jackson 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 at Illinois before playing three years with the Harlem Globetrotters. After starting a long career at Honeywell, where he became one of the company’s senior corporate officers, Jackson became the nation’s first African-American owner of a global sports and entertainment brand when he purchased the Globetrotters in 1993. He was awarded the Order of Lincoln (the State’s highest honor) by the Governor of Illinois in 2010 in the area of Sports.
Lebanon, Illinois native Craig Virgin won nine Big Ten championships, nine All-American awards and was the 1975 NCAA Cross Country champion while competing for Illinois. He was a three-time Olympic qualifier in 1976, 1980 and 1984 at 10,000 meters, and is a seven-time American record holder in road and track events. Virgin was a three-time national champion in 10,000 meters at U.S. National Track and Field Championships, and winner of the 1980 Olympic Trials 10,000 meters. He was inducted into the National Distance Running Hall of Fame and National USA Track & Field Hall of Fame.
All-time great Dick Butkus was introduced as the first member of the class, and is joined by football legends Red Grange, George Halas, Claude “Buddy” Young, Dwight “Dike” Eddleman, George Huff and long-time coach Robert Zuppke.
Women’s athletics were added at the varsity level in 1974, 84 years after the UI Athletic Association was formed in 1890. Women in the first class are track and field stars Tonja Buford-Bailey and Perdita Felicien, gymnast Nancy Thies Marshall, golfer Renee Heiken Slone, volleyball star Mary Eggers Tendler, and trailblazing administrator Karol Kahrs.
Several members were multi-sport stars, including Dwight “Dike” Eddleman, Halas, Andy Phillip, Lou Boudreau, Halas and Young. Basketball is represented by Nick Anderson, Dee Brown, Deron Williams, Phillip, Boudreau, Mannie Jackson, Eddleman, Halas and Jerry Colangelo. In addition to their time as student-athletes, Halas, Jackson and Colangelo were recognized for their contribution to sports after groundbreaking leadership in professional and international athletics.
A long line of Fighting Illini track and field greats is represented by Herb McKenley, Harold Osborn, Craig Virgin, Eddleman, Buford-Bailey and Felicien. Boudreau, Illinois’ only member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Phillip and Huff represent baseball.
Golfer Steve Stricker, wrestler Allie Morrison and gymnast Abie Grossfeld represent their respective sports. Illinois coaching legends included in this class are track and field coach and innovator Harry Gill, tennis coach Craig Tiley and Zuppke. Grossfeld, McKenley, Kahrs and Huff all had successful coaching careers internationally and at Illinois in addition to their playing and administrative careers.
George Huff, considered the “Father of Illini Athletics,” is connected to all areas as a player on the initial football team in 1890, several years as a football and baseball coach, and serving as athletics director for more than three decades.
“I would like to thank the selection committee for its work in identifying the members of this inaugural Hall of Fame class,” said Director of Athletics Josh Whitman. “As you would expect, with more than 120 years of athletics excellence to consider, it was an incredibly difficult process to select this small, elite group.