22 Named to University of Nebraska Athletics Hall of Fame Inaugural Class
By: KLKN Newsroom
The University of Nebraska proudly announced the inaugural class of the University of Nebraska Athletics Hall of Fame on Tuesday, March 17. A total of 22 distinguished student-athletes will be enshrined this fall in conjunction with the Huskers’ season-opening football game with BYU on September 5th, 2015.
The creation of the University of Nebraska Athletics Hall of Fame serves to honor Husker Athletics programs and student-athletes who have won 25 team national championships, captured 156 individual NCAA titles and lead the nation with 315 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans and 17 NCAA Top 10 Award winners. The inaugural Hall of Fame class includes one inductee from every current Nebraska sport, plus an honoree from the men’s swimming program, which was a recognized varsity sport from 1921 to 2001.
“The University of Nebraska has an outstanding history and tradition of excellence in athletics, and our talented student-athletes have played a pivotal role in forging this reputation,” Director of Athletics Shawn Eichorst said. “Therefore, it is with great enthusiasm and respect that we have created the University of Nebraska Athletics Hall of Fame and now proudly honor an elite group of student-athletes.”
The distinguished student-athletes who make up Nebraska Athletics’ inaugural Hall of Fame class include: Steve Friesen (men’s golf); Alex Gordon (baseball); Charlie Greene (men’s track and field); Jim Hartung (men’s gymnastics); Penny Heyns (women’s swimming and diving); Karen Jennings (women’s basketball); Steve Jung (men’s tennis); Joe Kirby (men’s cross country); Christine Latham (soccer); Liz (Mooney) Shaffer (women’s tennis); Eric Piatkowski (men’s basketball); Adam Pine (men’s swimming and diving); Shannon Pluhowsky (bowling); Merlene Ottey (women’s track and field); Dave Rimington (football); Sarah Sasse-Kildow (women’s golf); Bill Scherr (wrestling); Richelle Simpson (women’s gymnastics); Lori Sippel (softball); Fran (ten Bensel) Benne (women’s cross country); Amanda (Trujillo) Scrivner (rifle); and Allison Weston (volleyball).
The highly decorated class of 22 combined for eight national player-of-the-year awards, 127 All-America certificates, 32 individual NCAA titles and 11 team national championships. Hartung was a part of four men’s gymnastics national championship teams, Ottey (women’s track and field) and Pluhowsky (bowling) each led three Husker teams to national titles, and Weston was a member of Nebraska’s first national champion volleyball team in 1995. In the classroom, the inductees produced a total of three CoSIDA Academic All-American-of-the-Year accolades, seven Academic All-America honors and two NCAA Top 10 Awards.
The inductees also excelled internationally and in the professional ranks. Eight members of the inaugural Hall of Fame class were Olympians, competing in a combined 19 Olympic Games and winning 15 Olympic Medals, including five Gold Medals. Among the major professional sports, Gordon, Piatkowski and Rimington were all first-round draft picks. Gordon enters his ninth year in Major League Baseball in 2015 as a two-time all-star and four-time Gold Glove Award winner. Piatkowski enjoyed a 14-year NBA career, while Rimington played seven seasons in the NFL.
Several members of the inaugural class have been enshrined in other halls of fame. Rimington and Jennings are members of the CoSIDA Academic All-America Hall of Fame, while Rimington is also enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame. Greene is a member of the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame and the United States Olympic Hall of Fame, and Hartung has been inducted into the United States Gymnastics Hall of Fame and the United States Olympic Hall of Fame. Heyns is enshrined in the International Swimming Hall of Fame, Pluhowsky in the International Bowling Hall of Fame and Sippel in the International Softball Federation Hall of Fame. Greene, Hartung, Heyns and Pine are proud owners of Olympic Gold Medals, while Ottey participated in nine Olympic Games, winning three Silver and six Bronze Medals.
The inaugural class was selected by a 12-person committee consisting of seven members of the Nebraska Athletics staff and five prominent former Husker student-athletes: Nicole Ali (women’s track and field); Frosty Anderson (football); Karen Jennings (women’s basketball); Janet (Kruse) Sellon (volleyball); and Al Maxey Sr. (men’s basketball).
“We greatly appreciate the Hall of Fame Committee for the hard work and thoughtful consideration in putting together this inaugural class,” Eichorst said. “With the number of exceptional student-athletes who have matriculated at Nebraska, limiting the first class to just one inductee per sport was no easy task. We are especially grateful to our five former student-athletes who volunteered their time for this worthy endeavor. They helped establish Nebraska’s tradition through their achievements as student-athletes and now have played a significant role in building the legacy of our Hall of Fame.”
Criteria considered for the Hall of Fame included: 1) the nominee must have completed his or her Nebraska athletic career at least 10 years prior to the current academic year; 2) the nominee must have demonstrated exceptional performance in his or her sport(s) and earned at least one varsity letter; and 3) the nominee must have demonstrated good character and citizenship.
The 22 members of the inaugural class will be enshrined at a private ceremony on Friday, September 4th, before being recognized in Memorial Stadium during Nebraska’s season-opening football game against BYU the next day.
The University is in the process of constructing an Athletics Hall of Fame plaza to serve as the permanent home honoring the Hall of Fame members. When completed this fall, the plaza will be accessible to the public every day of the year at no charge. The plaza will be located on a renovated walkway, stretching from the columns above the Ed Weir Outdoor Track and Field Stadium and continuing to the historic NU Coliseum. The University of Nebraska Athletics Hall of Fame plaza will serve as a grand entryway to the Ed Weir Stadium and will complement Memorial Stadium’s East side. The plaza will recognize each annual Hall of Fame class and will also highlight the history and successes of Nebraska’s athletics programs.
Following this year’s class, a new Hall of Fame class will be selected annually. While the inaugural class includes an inductee from every sport, future classes will seek to recognize the most distinguished student-athletes regardless of sport and future classes will be limited to fewer inductees.
Inaugural 2015 Nebraska Athletics Hall of Fame Class
Steve Friesen, Men’s Golf (1996-99)
Alex Gordon, Baseball (2003-05)
Charlie Greene, Men’s Track and Field (1965-67)
Jim Hartung, Men’s Gymnastics (1979-82)
Penny Heyns, Women’s Swimming and Diving (1993-96)
Karen Jennings, Women’s Basketball (1990-93)
Steve Jung, Men’s Tennis (1986-89)
Joe Kirby, Men’s Cross Country (1987-90)
Christine Latham, Soccer (1999-2002)
Liz Mooney, Women’s Tennis (1983-86)
Eric Piatkowski, Men’s Basketball (1991-94)
Adam Pine, Men’s Swimming and Diving (1997-2000)
Shannon Pluhowsky, Bowling (2001-02; 2004-05)
Merlene Ottey, Women’s Track and Field (1980-84)
Dave Rimington, Football (1979-82)
Sarah Sasse, Women’s Golf (1999; 2000-03)
Bill Scherr, Wrestling (1981-84)
Richelle Simpson, Women’s Gymnastics (2002-05)
Lori Sippel, Softball (1985-88)
Fran ten Bensel, Women’s Cross Country (1989-92)
Amanda Trujillo, Rifle (2000-03)
Allison Weston, Volleyball (1992-95)
For more information on the University of Nebraska Athletics Hall of Fame please go to: