Athletics News |
Aug. 17, 2011
CINCINNATI - Major League Baseball hall of famer Sandy Koufax, UC swimming and diving head coach Monty Hopkins, men's basketball standout Jason Maxiell, Lou Groza Award-winning football kicker Jonathan Ruffin and the 1960-61 national championship men's basketball team are set to be inducted into the University of Cincinnati James P. Kelly Athletics Hall of Fame.
The enshrinement will take place as part of the annual Legion of Excellence gala, scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 26. The Legion of Excellence will also include the recognition of the top current student-athletes from each sport, as well as the bestowing of the Order of the Black Blazer and the Strubbe Distinguished Service Award.
The 2011 class will be the first to include a team for induction. UC just completed its celebration of the 50th anniversary of the NCAA title won by the 1960-61 men's basketball team, the first of back-to-back national championship seasons for the Bearcats.
"This is an outstanding class and notable for being the first to recognize an entire team", said UC Interim Director of Athletics Bob Arkeilpane. "It also includes a pair of student-athletes who have gone on to achieve more prominence at the next level, another who is now in service to his hometown and, of course, one of our current coaches, a former student-athlete who never really left the University. This is a remarkable group and I'm really looking forward to our annual Legion of Excellence evening when we will honor student-athletes and coaches past and present."
The 1960-61 men's basketball team won UC's first team national championship when it defeated Ohio State, 70-65, in the title game on March 25, 1961, played in Kansas City, Mo. The Bearcats were 27-3 on the season and were Missouri Valley Conference champions. After losing on the road at Bradley just before Christmas, UC reeled off 22 consecutive wins to close out the seasons as national champions.
Koufax was inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972 at 36 years old, making him the youngest ever to receive that honor. He played one season at UC before being signed by his hometown Brooklyn Dodgers, going 3-1 for the Bearcats with a 2.81 earned run average in 1954. In 1999, he was named by Major League Baseball as one of 30 players on its all-century team and recognized by The Sporting News on its list of "The 100 Greatest Baseball Players".
Maxiell played in 129 consecutive games for UC, the second-longest streak in UC men's basketball history. He is 12th on the all-time scoring list with 1,566 points and second in blocks with 252. Twice an All-Conference USA honoree, he was selected by the Detroit Pistons with the 26th pick in the first round of the 2005 National Basketball Association draft.
Ruffin was honored as the winner of the 2000 Lou Groza Award, which is presented annually to the top football placekicker. He also became the Bearcats first-ever consensus first-team All-America selection that year. Ruffin holds school records for career points (315), extra points made (129), field goals made (62), field goal percentage (.785) and consecutive field goals made (13). After finishing his collegiate career, Ruffin become one of the few football players to have played in the National Football League (NFL), NFL Europe, Canadian Football League (CFL) and Arena Football League. He last played professionally in 2008 and is now a fireman in his hometown of Metairie, La.
Hopkins was a standout swimmer for the Bearcats and has been the head coach of the men's and women's swimming and diving teams since 1989. During his tenure, UC has totaled 12 conference team championships, two NCAA individual champions, 17 All-Americans, 14 Academic All-Americans and three Olympians. As a student-athlete, he was a two-time conference champion, two-time NCAA qualifier and a 1976 Olympic Trials qualifier. He served as team co-captain as a senior and was the recipient of the Jimmy Nippert Award, which recognizes UC's top male senior student-athlete.
Watch GoBEARCATS.com for more information to come on the hall of fame inductees as well as information on attending the 2011 Legion of Excellence.