simple beginning, designed to honor some of the top athletes and coaches
at East Carolina, the Athletic Hall of Fame has seen a little bit of
everything, from people pushing for their favorites to downright politics.
it has still lasted and holds a special place in my heart, since I
played a role in the first 10 years of its history and still try to put
in a word or two here and there.
started in 1973, when I read a story in my hometown paper, the
Burlington Daily Times-News, that Elon College had inducted a large
number of its athletes, coaches and administrators into its inaugural
Hall of Fame’s class. That got me thinking.
time, East Carolina didn’t have a hall, and I wondered if anyone had
Cain, who would eventually become a member of the Hall, was then the
assistant athletic director under Clarence Stasavich. I approached Bill
with the idea and we talked about it for a while. He then took the idea
to Stasavich, who assigned the project to his aide.
I met again and he asked me to contact some schools which had halls of
fame and ask for their charters, how they went about choosing their
next month or so, I contacted about 10 schools and received answers from
about half of them.
I discussed what we liked and disliked and I drew up a preliminary plan
taking the best of what we had found.
we proposed that, after the initial group of inductees, no more than
four people be installed in any one year. We suggested that a committee
representing a historical cross-section be put together to select those
deserving of enshrinement, the committee to be chaired by the school’s
selected, a person must receive at least 75 percent of the panel’s
For an athlete, the person had to have graduated, or be in good standing
academically, be out of school for at least five years and be a good
citizen. For a non-athlete, a three-year waiting period following the
cessation of coaching the sport for which he was being nominated was in
were some exceptions to the rule, generally a posthumous election.
those named by the committee would have to be approved by the athletic
director and the chancellor.
proposal was given to Stasavich, who approved and sent it on to
Chancellor Dr. Leo Jenkins, who also gave his nod.
Athletic Hall of Fame was then ready to fly.
there, we put together a committee, aiming for the installation of the
first class during the 1974 football season.
didn’t take very long to put that class together. We had nearly 40 years
of athletes, coaches and administrators from which to choose. Some names
were quickly approved while a few others were debated before finally
initial class was headed by the first football coach at East Carolina,
Ken Beatty, who began the athletic program at the school.
him was the school’s first athletic director, Dr. N.M. Jorgensen, and
athletes Glenn Bass (football, baseball), Bill Cline (football), Bobby
Hodges (football, basketball), Claude King, Sr. (football, basketball),
Sonny Russell (basketball), Bob Sawyer (swimming) and Bill Shelton
following year, four more members were elected to the Hall. They were
football All-American Dave Alexander, tennis great Maurice Everett,
baseball and football star Bill Holland and diver Ken Midyette.
voting for the Class of 1975, Cain had pushed hard for Stasavich to be
among the honored, but the former football coach and AD was not among
those voted in that spring.
Sadly, just one day before ECU’s historic victory over North Carolina
that fall, Stas suffered a fatal heart attack.
year, Stas was the lone entrant into the Hall, one of the few times that
only one has been installed.
the 1980 class, the school’s first black was named, outstanding football
player Carlester Crumpler.
first woman joined the Hall the following year when basketball star
Sheila Cotton was elected. At that time, Rosie Thompson, who was the
school’s all-time scorer — the only player, male or female — to score
over 2,000 career points, was still waiting for her five-year waiting
period to expire. She was elected in 1990.
those early years, two individuals turned down selection to the Hall,
men’s basketball coach Howard Porter and the first women’s basketball
coach, Nell Stallings. Porter said he felt he could not accept unless
one of his star players went in first. That player was later deservedly
inducted and Porter accepted his own selection.
Stallings, however, never relented, saying that she did not feel that
she deserved the honor.
the things that bothered me was that, aside from their recognition on
the field, there was no lasting place to honor those enshrined. The only
other thing was a small Friday night reception in the upper lobby of the
old Minges Coliseum.
wasn’t until a number of years later, after the construction of the Ward
Sports Medicine Building, that one of the inner hallways, on the second
floor, was dedicated as the “Hall of Fame.” Plaques honoring all those
named to the Hall hang there. A banquet is now held each Friday night
prior to the public enshrinement at the next day’s football game.
spring of 1984, there was a dramatic change in the hall. The selection
committee recommended four people for induction and forwarded their
selections to the athletic director and the chancellor.
school’s Board of Trustees stepped in, wanting to have their voice
heard. They turned down three of the selections and admitted just one
athlete, Cotton Clayton.
When word of this filtered down, I contacted the Board’s athletic
committee chairman, Tom Bennett, to question what was going on.
told that the Board felt it was their duty to “look over” the Hall of
Fame. The matter would not take long and no changes would likely be
made. The Board, I was told, just wanted to have a hand in it.
spring — and the time for new selections — rolled around, nothing had
been done. Again, I questioned Bennett, only to again be told to “just
wait. It wouldn’t be long.”
eventually turned into a five-year gap in the selections.
in the spring of 1989, I happened to be looking through one of the East
Carolina publications and saw a notice asking for nominations to the
East Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame.
eligibility rules for selection had been changed. Athletes could not be
inducted until they had been out of school for 10 years. Coaches and
administrators had to serve at least five years in the position for
which they were nominated.
on the existing selection committee was asked for their opinions, nor
had they been told of the Board’s decision and action. We just happened
to read about it in the papers.
committee consisted mainly of university officials such as the assistant
AD, and the faculty athletic chairman — both members of the former
committee — along with the president of the Pirate Club, the president
of the student body, and others.
of the Hall — selected by the new committee — recently told me that
there were few people on the selection panel who knew a great deal about
the history of the athletic program, something he felt was necessary.
years since the “new” Hall, I’ve continued to lobby for people I feel
should be in the Hall, and I’ve seen quite a few of them inducted. As
you may know, I still have a lengthy list that I’ve put before the
committee, a list that will only grow as more and more people become
admit that I do feel a little bitterness over what has happened to the
Hall and the way the original committee was dismissed without any notice
or thanks. But I guess that’s just politics.
child who has left home, I will always have a place in my heart for the
Hall of Fame and I will continue to back it in every way that I can. I
may not always agree with some selections, but I do believe that most
everyone in the Hall deserves to be there.