Sixteen Elected to Inaugural Class of Army Sports Hall of Fame

WEST POINT, N.Y. A diverse group of championship athletes and head coaches that reads like a “who’s who” list of intercollegiate athletics will comprise the initial class of honorees elected to the Army Sports Hall of Fame, it was announced today by Army Director of Athletics Rick Greenspan.

Twelve different sports are represented in the class, which includes nine All-Americans, three Heisman Trophy winners, four legendary coaches that reached the pinnacle of their profession, eight individuals that have been elected to their respective sport’s national hall of fame and two Olympians.

Included in the inaugural class are: Earl “Red” Blaik (football coach), Felix “Doc” Blanchard (football), Glenn Davis (football), Pete Dawkins (football/hockey), Elmer Oliphant (football/basketball/baseball/track and field), Mike Natvig (wrestling), Bob Neyland (baseball/boxing/football), Joe Palone (men’s soccer/baseball coach), Jack Riley (hockey coach), John Roosma (basketball/soccer/baseball), Robert Sears (gymnastics), Richard Shea (track and field/cross country), F. Morris Touchstone  (lacrosse coach), John VanSant (swimming), Diana Wills (track and field) and Anne Marie Wycoff (swimming).

“I would like to commend the work of the selection committee, USMA athletic committee, chaired by USMA Dean of the Academic Board Brig. Gen. Daniel J. Kaufman, and Superintendent William J. Lennox Jr., on building this initial class of inductees to the Army Sports Hall of Fame,” stated Greenspan. “With nearly 120 years of past successes, Army’s intercollegiate athletic program is steeped in tradition. There are countless individuals worthy of election to the Army Sports Hall of Fame. When considering the number and quality of candidates eligible for selection, the work facing the selection committee was immense. Settling on a list of 16 from that vast reservoir of potential honorees was a daunting task. With so many deserving candidates, the committee will select new classes of similar size in the next few years. Too large a group would have limited our ability to recognize each honoree properly at a special event.

“Induction into the Army Sports Hall of Fame rates as the highest honor that can be bestowed upon an Academy athlete, coach or administrator. To be named to the initial class is truly a special honor. We look forward to inducting more worthy candidates in the years ahead We feel that our Hall of Fame weekend will annually be one of the athletic department’s marquee events.”

The Army Sports Hall of Fame is a subset of the Kenna Hall of Army Sports. Currently in the design and production phase, Kenna Hall of Army Sports will be a comprehensive museum display of Army’s proud intercollegiate athletic program. It will be located on the third floor of Kimsey Athletic Center, Army’s mammoth football training facility that opened during the spring of 2003.

Today’s announcement marks the end of a lengthy selection progress that began during the spring. A 10-member selection committee representing athletic administrators, academic administrators, former West Point athletes, graduates and representatives from the Association of Graduates began the lengthy process of developing a workable list from the thousands of athletes and coaches that have represented the Academy on the “fields of friendly strife.” Only athletes that graduated the Academy were considered and only those five years removed from their playing and coaching days are eligible.

In addition, the selection committee followed a charter that was established to support the Army Sports Hall of Fame by listing a myriad of eligibility requirements for former cadet-athletes, coaches and administrators to be considered. “Primary” consideration for election to the Army Sports Hall of Fame is granted to accomplishments during an individual’s tenure as an athlete, coach or administrator while at West Point. Honors attained or accomplishments that pre- or post-dated Academy careers are granted “secondary” consideration.

Once the selection committee comprised its recommended list, the names were forwarded to USMA’s Athletic Committee for its review and ratification before being passed on to USMA Superintendent Lt. Gen. William Lennox Jr., for final approval.

The first class of Army Sports Hall of Fame members will be honored at a special “black-tie” induction banquet on Oct. 1 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. A limited number of tickets for the $500-per-plate event are available to the public and can be purchased by calling Army’s External Operations Office at 845-938-2322. Proceeds will be used to establish a fund that will support the daily care, maintenance and growth of the Kenna Hall of Army Sports and  Army Sports Hall of Fame.

The initial class will be honored during a halftime ceremony the next day when Army’s football team hosts TCU at Michie Stadium.