Phil Fulmer and General Robert Neyland Highlight 2017 Tennessee Athletics Hall of Fame Class
(utsports.com) Tennessee Athletics announced its eight-person 2017 induction class for the Tennessee Athletics Hall of Fame Thursday. The star-studded class includes Monica Abbott (softball), the late Ray Bussard (coach; men’s swimming), Phillip Fulmer (coach; football), Justin Gatlin (men’s track), Todd Helton (baseball), Jeremy Linn (men’s swimming), the late Gen. Robert Neyland (coach; football) and Delisa Walton Myricks (women’s track).
The Class of 2017 will be celebrated during the weekend of Oct. 13-14—which coincides with Tennessee’s home football game against South Carolina—and the Hall of Fame activities will include a private induction ceremony on the evening of Friday, Oct. 13. The inductees also will be recognized on the field at Neyland Stadium during the football game the following day.
Bussard is survived by his wife, Ruth Bussard, who will represent him during induction weekend. Neyland will be represented by his son, Bob Neyland Jr.
“Halls of fame, by design, stand to honor those who have truly distinguished themselves as elite,” Tennessee Vice Chancellor/Director of Athletics John Currie said. “And this Class of 2017 represents the very best of some of the University of Tennessee’s most elite eras in their respective sports. These eight individuals are legendary and indeed transformational figures in Tennessee’s storied athletic history, and I salute our Hall of Fame committee for selecting this outstanding class.”
The purpose of the Tennessee Athletics Hall of Fame is to recognize and honor individuals who have made outstanding contributions to Tennessee Athletics. Prior to 2016, there were 65 female student-athletes who had been inducted into the Lady Volunteer Hall of Fame. The Class of 2016 included an equal number of male student-athletes as a legacy group (completed eligibility before 1990) that would likely have been inducted earlier had the opportunity existed. The 2016 class also included six additional inductees; three men and three women.
Membership in the Tennessee Athletics Hall of Fame is based on a former student-athlete’s intercollegiate career at the University of Tennessee. Student-athletes are eligible for induction 10 years after their collegiate eligibility expires, and staff are eligible five years after retirement from or leaving employment of the University of Tennessee. Student-athletes and/or staff may be inducted posthumously.
SOFTBALL | 2004-07
Monica Abbott put forth one of the most dominant collegiate softball careers of all time, finishing her four-year tenure on Rocky Top as the NCAA’s career leader in victories (189), strikeouts (2,440), shutouts (112) and appearances (253). Abbott led the country in wins in each of her four seasons at Tennessee and set the single-season record for strikeouts with 724 in 2007. The Salinas, California, native is one of only two players in program history to earn NFCA All-America honors four times, and is the only Vol softball player to win the USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Award, doing so in 2007. Abbott also won the prestigious Honda Award after her historic 2007 season and was a three-time SEC Pitcher of the Year (2005-07). Abbott threw an astonishing 23 no-hitters and six perfect games during her career and led Tennessee to three consecutive Women’s College World Series appearances (2005-07), with a runner-up finish in 2007.
RAY BUSSARD (posthumously)
MEN’S SWIMMING & DIVING COACH | 1968-88
Ray Bussard led the Tennessee men’s swimming and diving team from its restart as a varsity sport on Rocky Top into a national power. He coached the Vols from 1968-88 and guided the team to the 1978 NCAA team title — the program’s only national championship — and eight SEC titles, including seven consecutive from 1972-78. The Vols also were dominant individually during Bussard’s tenure, winning a combined 26 NCAA and 123 SEC championships. He passed away on Sept. 22, 2010.
FOOTBALL COACH | 1992-2008
A former Tennessee offensive guard (1969-71), Phillip Fulmer led his alma mater to a 152-52 (.744) record as head football coach during the most dominant era in the Volunteers’ modern gridiron history. He guided Tennessee to a 45-5 record from 1995-98, including a perfect 13-0 mark and a 23-16 win over Florida State in the 1999 Fiesta Bowl to lay claim to the first-ever BCS National Championship. Fulmer’s UT teams earned 15 bowl bids and finished the year ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 following 13 seasons. He also led the Vols to back-to-back SEC championships in 1997 and 1998, 44 victories over ranked opponents and a streak of 54 consecutive weeks in the top 10 of the AP rankings. Fulmer was elected to the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 2001 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 2012.
MEN’S TRACK & FIELD | 2001-02
In just two collegiate seasons before turning professional, Justin Gatlin reeled off 12 All-America performances and won six individual NCAA titles for the Volunteers. As a freshman in 2001, his 100m time of 10.08 at the NCAA Outdoor Championships matched a then USA Junior record. He was Tennessee’s top point-scorer at both the 2001 NCAA Outdoor Championships and the 2002 NCAA Indoor Championships, both of which resulted in NCAA team titles for the Big Orange. Gatlin also captured seven individual SEC championships (two relay) during his stellar, two-year career on Rocky Top.
BASEBALL | 1993-95
A 2008 inductee into the Tennessee Baseball Hall of Fame, Todd Helton is one of the greatest players in the history of Tennessee Baseball. Helton earned National Player of the Year honors from multiple outlets in 1995, including Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball. He also received the Dick Howser Award and earned SEC Player of the Year as well as SEC Male Athlete of the Year accolades in 1995. The Knoxville native is one of just three Vols to earn All-America honors three times, doing so in 1993, 1994 and 1995. Helton was dominant in the batter’s box and on the mound during his three years on Rocky Top. He is still the program’s career leader in home runs (38), runs batted in (238), walks (147), and saves (23). He also ranks second in UT history in hits (280), runs scored (199), doubles (65), total bases (481), and extra-base hits (114). Helton’s career earned run average of 2.24 ranks third all-time at UT as well.
MEN’S SWIMMING | 1995-98
Jeremy Linn established himself as one of the top breaststrokers in the nation and on the international stage during his four-year career with Tennessee (1995-98). He won the SEC title in the 100-yard breaststroke all four years of his career in addition to earning a pair of titles in the 200 breaststroke, and he was named the SEC Swimmer of the Year three times (1995, 1997, 1998). His dominance continued to the NCAAs, where he won three NCAA titles in the 100 breaststroke and one in the 200 breaststroke in addition to swimming the breaststroke leg on two winning medley relay teams, giving him six total national championships.
GEN. ROBERT R. NEYLAND (posthumously)
FOOTBALL COACH | 1926-34, 1936-40, 1946-52
The epitome of a true Volunteer, Gen. Robert R. Neyland’s three successful tenures as Tennessee’s head football coach were interrupted only by calls to serve his country—he came to UT as an Army captain and left as a brigadier general. Known for employing an efficient, single-wing offense and unyielding defense, Neyland posted a career record of 173-31-12 and guided Tennessee to national championships in 1938, 1940, 1950 and 1951. The four-time SEC Coach of the Year led his teams to two Southern Conference titles and five SEC championships. In 216 games as Tennessee’s head coach, his teams had 112 shutouts. Neyland also served stints as UT’s athletics director in between active military service, with his final AD stint lasting from 1946-62. He passed away on March 28, 1962.
DELISA WALTON MYRICKS
WOMEN’S TRACK & FIELD | 1980-83
Delisa Walton stands as one of the most decorated student-athletes in the history of Tennessee track & field. A key member of UT’s 1981 AIAW outdoor national championship team, Walton ran on both the 4x400m and 800m medley relay teams—both of which captured national titles. She also was the 800m national runner-up at the 1981 outdoor championships. Earlier that same year, she helped the Big Orange to a first-place finish at the inaugural SEC Women’s Outdoor Championships. Walton’s four-year honors haul included five individual SEC championships (three relay), nine individual AIAW/NCAA championships (four relay), and she was a 12-time All-American.
To be inducted into the Tennessee Athletics Hall of Fame, selection criteria includes the following areas of consideration:
• College graduate or departed the university in good academic standing
• National Team Member
• All-SEC (minimum of two times)
• Conference or National Player/Athlete of the Year
• University, American or World-Record holder
• SEC Champion
• AIAW or NCAA Champion or Top-4 finish
Criteria for staff includes:
• Provided outstanding service to Tennessee Athletics