Four Individuals, 1961-62 Men's Basketball Squad to be Inducted into UC's James P. Kelly Athletics Hall of Fame

Oct. 29, 2012

CINCINNATI - Three former student-athletes, a coach and a team make up the 2012 induction class for the University of Cincinnati's James P. Kelly, Sr., Athletics Hall of Fame.

Miriam Merrill (women's track and field), Jonathan Ruffin (football) and Bill Faul (baseball) are the three former student-athletes, joining the 1961-62 men's basketball team and track and field and cross country head coach Bill Schnier to make up this year's class. The induction will take place Tuesday evening as part of the annual Legion of Excellence gala at the Marriott Kingsgate Conference Center on the UC campus.

1961-62 men's basketball team
The 1961-62 men's basketball squad becomes just the second team to be inducted in the UC athletics hall of fame, following the 1960-61 team which went in last year. The two teams won back-to-back NCAA national championships. Of the 14 members of the 1961-62 team, 11 were members of the 1960-61 team.

Led by head coach Ed Jucker, assistant coach Tay Baker and freshmen coach John Powless, the Bearcats had a 29-2 overall record and won the Missouri Valley Conference title with a 10-2 mark. The 29 victories are the second-highest total in program history. Nationally ranked every week of the season, UC opened the year ranked second in the nation and began 5-0 before falling at Wichita St. ,52-51, on December 18. The Bearcats dropped to No. 3 in the rankings after picking up their second loss of the year at Bradley in overtime, 70-68, on January 10, but they would later avenge both losses with double-digit victories and did get back to being ranked No. 2, but never held the No. 1 ranking. They closed out the season with 18 wins in a row, including the defeat of No. 1-ranked Ohio State University in the national championship game for the second consecutive year.

Members of the team were: Ron Bonham, Missouri Valley all-conference, led team in free throw percentage; Jim Calhoun; Fred Dierking; Larry Elasser; Dale Heidotting; Paul Hogue, team captain, Final Four all-tournament team and most outstanding player, NCAA regional all-tournament and MVP, first-team All-America, team MVP, Missouri Valley all-conference, leading scorer at 16.9 points per game, leading rebounder at 12.4 per game, leader in blocked shots at 2.0 per game; Ron Reis; Larry Shingleton; Tom Sizer; Tom Thacker, Final Four all-tournament team, NCAA regional all-tournament team, Missouri Valley all-conference; George Wilson, Final Four all-tournament team, NCAA regional all-tournament team, led team in field goal percentage; and Tony Yates - second-team All-America, led team in assists at 4.3 per game. Four players - Bonham, Hogue, Thacker, Wilson - would go on to play in the NBA. Hogue was the second player picked in the first round of the 1962 NBA draft.

Miriam Merrill, women's track & field student-athlete, 1997-2001
Merrill became the first All-America honoree in UC's women's program history, earning the distinction in 2001 when she finished eighth at the NCAA indoor national championship meet. She still has the top eight marks in the indoor weight throw, including the school record of 64'1". She formerly held school records in the outdoor shot put and hammer throw.

Merrill, who was the team MVP in the 1999, 2000 and 2001 indoor seasons and the 2001 outdoor season, has a remarkable 2001 indoor season when she won the weight throw in every meet up to the NCAA final. She was an eight-time All-Conference USA performer (four times each in indoor and outdoor). Additionally, she was the recipient of the Helen Norman Smith Award in 2001, honoring the top female senior student-athlete in the athletic department.

Bill Faul, baseball student-athlete, 1960-62 (to be inducted posthumously)
Faul was UC's first baseball All-American, earning first-team honors as a junior in 1961 and third-team as a senior in 1962. He currently holds school records for single-season earned run average (0.80, 1962), single-season strikeouts (133, 1961), single-season opponent's batting average (.162, 1961), career earned run average (1.42), career complete games (20). He also struck out a school-record 24 batters in a game against Jacksonville Naval Air Station in 1961. He led the nation in strikeouts per game in 1961 and was second in 1962.

Accepting for Faul will be his brother, Jerry, who also played baseball at UC.

Jonathan Ruffin, football student-athlete, 1999-2002
Ruffin was a consensus first-team All-America in 2000 and earned the Lou Groza Award that year as the nation's top kicker after booting a school-record 26 field goals. He was the Conference USA Special Teams Player of the Year Award in 2000 and would also be named to the league's All-Decade team. He played in the 2002 Florida Citrus All-Star Classic and was named the game's most valuable player.

Ruffin holds school records for total career points (315), extra points made (129), extra points attempted (134), field goals made (62), field goals attempted (.785), field goal percentage (.785), consecutive field goals made (13), points scored by kicking (315), and consecutive games scored in (47).

After finishing his collegiate career, Ruffin became 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.

Bill Schnier, Men's & Women's Track & Field and Cross Country Head Coach, 1980-present
This is Schnier's 33rd year at UC and his 45th working in education. During his time leading the Bearcats track and field and cross country teams, the program has produced 136 individual conference champions, 25 NCAA national championship meet qualifiers, 10 All-Americans and two Olympic medalists. Schnier has been named conference coach of the year 15 times and was twice selected as Ohio cross country coach of the year. He was named the Conference USA coach of the decade in both cross country and track and field. His teams have won 12 conference titles and 47 of programs' 53 school records were set during his time at UC.

Schnier is a 1966 graduate of Capital University where he played baseball for two years before switching to track and field. He set the Capital record for the outdoor 800 meters (1:54.14) and was a member of the record-setting outdoor 4x800 meters relay team (7:51.04), both of which are still school records to date. He earned master's degrees from Wright State University and Indiana University in 1977 and in 1987 earned a doctorate in human performance from Indiana.

This will be the fourth hall of fame for Schnier. In 2010, he was inducted into the Capital University Hall of Fame. In 2011, Schnier was inducted into two more, the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches and the Greater Cincinnati Running.

Schnier began his career at Trotwood-Madison High School where he taught history and coached track and field for seven seasons, leading his team to a second-place finish in the Ohio State AAA championship meet in 1975. He then spent five seasons as an assistant coach at Indiana before coming to UC in 1980.

Of the student-athletes that Schnier has coached at UC, 16 have won the prestigious Jimmy Nippert Award, honoring the most outstanding male senior student-athlete. He has also coached three winners of the Helen Norman Smith award, honoring the top female student-athlete, and four winners of the Jean Stephens Award, honoring the UC student-athlete that best exemplifies integrity, commitment to the team, athletic department and equitable treatment of others.

Schnier is married to the former Kathy Henn. The couple has three adult children: Lorraine, Ellen and Keller.