An oral history of the Carson-Newman Athletics Hall of Fame

An oral history of the Carson-Newman Athletics Hall of Fame

Each Sunday during the 2016-17 school year, the Carson-Newman athletic communications department will shine a spotlight on a current or former Carson-Newman student-athlete looking to tell a tale of life outside of his or her respective sport or a story of historical value to the Eagle athletic program.

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Homecoming 2016 at Mossy Creek brought together some of the finest student-athletes in the history of Carson-Newman University as the Athletic Hall of Fame class of 2016 saw five new members inducted.

The first class was introduced in 1985 with eight members honored. Over the last 31 years, 96 people have been honored as an all-time Eagle. The wide variety of success is evident just by stopping by the plaques at the end of the athletics department hallway.

The following is an extensive history of how the hall of fame came to fruition with a look at some of the most notable members of the prestigious organization and a look to who could be inducted in the future.

The Background

The Carson-Newman athletics program began on June 3, 1893. The baseball team became the first organized group and earned a 4-3 win over the University of Tennessee in 1895, the school's first intercollegiate contest.

An administrative committee was developed and led by President Cordell Maddox to start the Carson-Newman Athletics Hall of Fame and the opening class of 1985. It included seven men and one woman, Dana X. Bible, Roy Harmon, Sam B. "Frosty" Holt, Mae Iddins, Bernie Moore, Lake Russell, Milas "Slim" Shoun and Earnest Tucker.

To be inducted, a person must be 10 years removed from their Carson-Newman career. In 1994, membership was opened to individuals who invested their lives in leading C-N sports. Coach Dick Campbell (basketball) and Bobby Wilson (baseball) were inducted the following year.

One of the driving forces for the program was 1970 C-N graduate David Barger. The current Athletic Director Emeritus started as the Director of Athletic Promotions in 1980 then Director of Athletic Development before being named Athletic Director in 1990, a post he would hold until 2012. He and Holt are the only two people in the history of Carson-Newman to hold the title of Athletic Director Emeritus.

Dr. Maddox, the 22-year president of Carson-Newman and a former football player in the 1960s, asked Barger to collect information from other schools on how those institutions developed halls of fame.

"There were several of us who started brainstorming in late 1983 and the spring of 1984," Barger recalled. "The president gave us the green light to put together the infrastructure and the bylaws for a Hall of Fame. He took it to his cabinet and it was approved for a college sponsored activity. It went pretty quick. We put it together and inducted our first class in 12-18 months from when the discussions began."

The first induction took place in Butler-Blanc Gymnasium going back to the roots of the athletic programs to honor the eight-member opening class. The hope from day one was to make sure that not just great athletes would be honored.

"We really want to recognize people that have distinguished themselves as players, coaches and administrators," Barger said. "It is really important because athletic prowess is what a Hall of Fame is for. It's also important that a Carson-Newman Hall of Famer embraces what the university stands for – higher quality Christian education. Those things integrate together to make a true Carson-Newman athletic hall of famer."

There have been 17 classes inducted since its inception in 1985. The largest class to ever be inducted was an 11-member 1986 group followed by the eight people enshrined in 1985 and in 2009. The smallest class came in 1993 when John Ed Dowling (class of 1937) and Libby Hudson Gardner (class of 1968) were honored. The most common amount is four members having happened on four occasions followed by six and seven, done three times each. A three-member group has been inducted twice and a five-member class has happened once.

11 varsity sports are represented in the Hall of Fame as 28 of the members qualified as multi-sport stars. Among sports that had members listed in just one sport, football has 19 members, administrators and coaches have 13, men's basketball has 10, women's basketball has seven, baseball has four and softball has three. Men's tennis, women's tennis and wrestling each have two inductees. Men's golf, men's soccer and track each have one person with a plaque on the wall.

The Legends

1998 inductee Sylvia Hatchell was a dual-sport star at Carson-Newman playing volleyball and basketball. The coaching veteran began her career as a junior varsity coach at the University of Tennessee before going to Francis Marion. In 1986, Hatchell was given the reins of the women's basketball program at the University of North Carolina where she will begin her 31st season Wednesday night against the Lady Eagles of C-N in exhibition play.

Overall in her career, Hatchell has a 975-358 record, third in the history of women's basketball behind Pat Summitt and Stanford's Tara Vanderveer. She has won a national championship at the AIAW in 1982, the NAIA in 1986 and the NCAA in 1994.

Hatchell is a two-time national coach of the year and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.

In an interview with the Eagle Sports Network in 2014, she credited her time in Jefferson City for developing her as a person.

"I learned so many things from people at Carson-Newman about putting a group of people together and exceeding expectations," Hatchell said. "Never let someone tell you that you can't do something. You can always do something. I've exceeded expectations because of the mentality that I developed when I was at Carson-Newman.

"It was great with such a sense of community. I still think that's one of the things that makes Carson-Newman unique is that sense of community that everybody has. Carson-Newman is all about the people that are still there and the ones that have gone through Carson-Newman and that's what makes it such a special place. I enjoyed all of my friends there, playing volleyball and basketball. I wasn't very good in volleyball, but I was a lot better in basketball. It was one of the best times of my life. I have such a love for the place but more so for the people."

The theme resonates with Jefferson City native and 10-year Major League Baseball veteran Clyde Wright. The southpaw spoke with the Eagle Sports Network during the 50-year reunion of Carson-Newman's first national championship, the 1965 NAIA baseball title team.

It was a season that almost did not happen as Wright was offered $25,000 to sign with the New York Yankees following his junior year. He elected to come back to C-N and signed for $10,000 with the Angels following his senior campaign but had no regrets.

"Our baseball coach, Frosty Holt, came to me and said 'I have one scholarship left, but I want to give it to someone else. The townspeople will help you out'," Wright said. "The townspeople paid my way through college. I made the agreement with them that if they paid for my college, I will graduate. That's the reason I didn't sign with the Yankees. The point was that I kept my word to graduate. I don't forget the people that helped me."

Wright was the Most Valuable Player of the 1965 NAIA World Series in which the Eagles defeated Nebraska-Omaha 3-2.

Wright still holds the record for strikeouts in a game with 22, strikeouts in the tournament with 37 and innings pitched in one game with 13.

The Jefferson City, Tenn. native went on to pitch 10 seasons in Major League Baseball where he hurled the second no-hitter in California Angels history, won a club record 22 games, pitched in the 1970 All-Star Game and won 100 games but his time in an Eagle uniform is at the top of his baseball memory bank.

"We had two excellent coaches," Wright said about the 1965 team. "The other thing that was really special was that it was like a band of brothers. There was no animosity towards anybody. Everybody got along. We played together. We stayed together. We did everything together. It was just one big, happy family.

 "I grew up here. I know more about Frosty than anyone else because I grew up here. This is where I grew up and this is where I come home to. We met some super people at Carson-Newman. Every place I go, I've been in every state playing baseball, somebody always comes up and asks me about Carson-Newman."

The lineage of nationally recognized athletes, coaches and administrators is extends from the early 19th century to current day as evident by the charter members of the Hall of Fame.  

Dana X. Bible, an initial inductee, was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1951. The Jefferson City, Tenn. native was a star athlete at C-N before coaching at Texas A&M, Nebraska and Texas. With a cumulative record of 198-72-23, the 1912 Carson-Newman alumnus won three national championships, 1919 and 1927 with Texas A&M and 1941 with Texas.

1917 Carson-Newman alumnus Bernie Moore, an inaugural Hall of Fame member, was a tackle on the football team and went on to coach Louisiana State University's track and field team to the 1933 national championship. The 1952 College Football Hall of Fame inductee coached LSU's football team from 1935-47 going 83-39-6.

Moore was named the commissioner of the Southeastern Conference in 1948 and remained at the post until 1966. LSU's track complex is named the Bernie Moore Track Stadium and he was named the first winner of the James J. Corbett Memorial Award given "to the collegiate administrator who through the years has most typified Corbett's devotion to intercollegiate athletics and worked unceasingly for its betterment."

"Dana X. Bible and Bernie go together as a package," Barger said. "Bible grew up on a farm just outside of Jefferson City. After Bible and Moore were inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, Carson-Newman was the first institution of higher learning in the United States to have two members in the College Football Hall of Fame.

"Bernie Moore was one of the real innovators in college football coaching. He was one of the first coaches to have the quarterback under center. In the summer of 1947, Moore and Frosty Holt got together at the old Farragut Hotel in Knoxville and Bernie schooled Frosty in some of the mechanics in taking the snap under center."

The 1947 season saw the Eagle football program finish the year 8-1-2 with a Smoky Mountain Athletic Conference Championship and the school's first bowl bid. C-N fell 20-6 to West Chester in the Burley Bowl.

In the same graduating class as Hatchell, Carl Torbush was first-team NAIA All-American in baseball and football at Carson-Newman. After a brief stint in the Kansas City Royals organization, Torbush began a coaching career that has spanned 32 seasons.

The 1989 C-N Hall of Fame inductee has been at 12 different schools and has been a head coach at Louisiana Tech, North Carolina and currently mans the East Tennessee State sideline.

"I have known Carl Torbush since our days together going to college at Carson-Newman," Hatchell said when Torbush was hired at East Tennessee State. "He was a tremendous athlete and a great student, and he always treated everybody the same – like they were the most important person in the world. He always has time for people, whether they are the president of the university or a janitor. They don't come any better. While he's a great football coach, he's an even better person. He's a class act in every aspect of his life."

Todd Collins became a third-round pick in the 1992 National Football League Draft by the New England Patriots. A two-time All-American at Carson-Newman, the New Market, Tenn. native led Jefferson County High School to the 1987 TSSAA AAA State Championship, the lone title in the school's history, and won the 1989 NAIA National Championship for the Eagles.

Collins started at linebacker for the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI and for the Super Bowl Champion St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV.

Included in the list are current Carson-Newman head coaches Ken Sparks, Hall of Fame class of 1989, Vickee Kazee-Hollifield, a 2002 inductee and Dr. Jean Love, a 2002 selection.

Sparks is in his 37th season and is the winningest active coach sitting in fifth-place on the NCAA's all-time wins list. He is one of 13 coaches to win at least 300 games in his career. Sparks is a member of the Division II College Football, NAIA, SAC, Tennessee Sports and Knoxville Sports Halls of Fame.

Kazee-Hollifield graduated from C-N in 1983 and was a member of the Carson-Newman women's basketball team. She has racked up 1,092 career coaching victories, 23 SAC Championships while being 4th in NCAA history in career winning percentage and fifth in Division wins.

Love graduated in 1983 earned NAIA All-American honors in 1981 and 1983. She was seeded first in the 1981 NAIA tournament and made it all the way to the semifinals of the 1983 tourney.

She received NAIA honorable mention accolades in 1982 and was an NAIA Scholar Athlete in 1983. She still holds the C-N women's career doubles victory record with 88 wins.

There are two assistant coaches on campus that are members of the hall of fame. Running backs coach Mike Clowney was inducted on Saturday and assistant running backs coach Mac Lambert was enshrined in 2011.

Clowney – the Eagles' current associate head coach - ranks sixth all-time with 353 tackles. He was a first team All-American in 1996, one of six Eagles all-time to earn consensus All-America honors. Named South Atlantic Conference Defensive Players of the Year in 1996, Clowney was inducted into the SAC Hall of Fame in 2015. He led C-N to its first NCAA National Championship appearance.

Lambert was a team captain on the 1954 football team that finished 5-2-2 and was the president of the men's student government. He spent time as the head coach at six different high schools in East Tennessee and has been on Carson-Newman's coaching staff for a combination of 21 seasons.

The Notables

Mae Iddins, class of 1926 and an inaugural inductee, was the first female to be inducted and spent more than 40 years at Mossy Creek developing the female athletics program and teaching physical education.

"Mae Iddins was just a pioneer of women's athletics," Barger said. "She led Carson-Newman through the era where women would play club sports. They would have 'play days' where the women would play four games in one day to fill the schedule. You have athletes in our hall of fame before the sport received any scholarships because of opportunities created by Iddins."

Bobby Baker, class of 1963 and a 1986 inductee was the football program's first All-American, being named in 1962 for his work at running back and place kicker. He is the only football player and one of three C-N athletes to have their number retired, No. 28.

Arnold Mellinger, class of 1957 and a member of the second hall of fame class, has his No. 30 hanging in the rafters of Holt Fieldhouse. He was an all-conference basketball performer and a four-year starter who ranks sixth in school history with 1,826 total points.

Chris Jones, class of 1962 and a 1988 inductee, was Carson-Newman's first ever All-American in any sport and is one of four 2,000-point scorers in the basketball program. Jones is the only Eagle to ever be drafted in the National Basketball Association being selected in the ninth round by the Cincinnati Royals in 1962, eight rounds after the Royals picked 1980 National Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Jerry Lucas.

Bobby Wilson coached the 1965 NAIA National Championship baseball team, his first of 23 years at the helm compiling a 490-260-1 record. The 1994 inductee's No. 38 is the only baseball jersey that is retired.

Tommy Jones, class of 1970 and a 1998 inductee, was an All-American in football and baseball. He is the only C-N athlete to be drafted in two professional leagues doing so by the Baltimore Colts and by the Boston Red Sox, in the sixth round. Jones chose baseball.

Ben Booker, class of 1943 and a member of the 2011 hall of fame class, lettered in basketball and football. He was a four-year starter as the quarterback and defensive back on the football team. Booker was a research chemist on the Manhattan Project for the atomic bomb.

The Day

Fans filed into Holt Fieldhouse at 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 29. Families posed for pictures in front of the banners. Children making their first appearance at Mossy Creek ran around the gym. Friends posed for photos and the inductees glanced at their plaques sharing old stories.

More than a dozen members of the Athletics Hall of Fame were in attendance at Holt Fieldhouse spending time during homecoming 2016.

Mike Clowney (football, class of 1997), Gene Lively (baseball, class of 1967), Karen Morton (women's basketball, class of 1986), Cedric Killings (football, class of 2000) and Lewis Bivens (women's basketball coach 1979-87) were the five people slated for induction.

In front of a table at midcourt the honorees sat and chatted with Barger recounting their memories at the Jefferson City, Tenn. campus and how Carson-Newman made them who they are today.

Clowney, a 2015 SAC Hall of Fame selection, described his first recruiting visit and how that was the beginning of his journey with God. It was a moment that helped to develop his recruiting style as a football coach.

"It's easy to sell a good product," Clowney said. "Carson-Newman is a good product. It's important to get students on campus and see what we have to offer. They get to come here and see how the people here can impact your life forever.

"I want to say thank you to Carson-Newman, the faculty, the staff and the coaches for giving me the opportunity to come here not just to play football but to grow as a person and learn life. One big thing that separates Carson-Newman is the relationships and friends that I have outside of football. I met my wife here and my son Preston is here today."

Four-time All-American defensive tackle Cedric Killings played in three national championship games and suited up for six NFL teams but he thanked his teammates for his success as an athlete.

"I can remember starting the process," Killings said. "Sitting at the table, trying to figure out which place fits you best. Coach Sparks made a trip down to Miami. What he presented was more than just football. It offered me a different perspective on life growing up in the inner-city and it would be better for me overall.

"Thinking back, I remember sitting in the dorm room waiting for that call [from an NFL team]. The phone rang. I remember that I dropped down and prayed for an opportunity to play with the best of the best. When I got here, they taught you how to believe and have that faith. I didn't grow up in a church background, but I learned that here. There was always the belief that if it's meant to be then I will get there."

Lively's .476 batting average on the 1965 NAIA National Championship still stands as the school record and he recorded the game-winning hit for the Eagles' in their 3-2 win over Nebraska-Omaha in the NAIA National Title Game.

"Between coach Holt and coach Wilson I think that I got every aspect of coaching," Lively said. "Coach Holt was outgoing and always had a story. Coach Holt always had something to say. Coach Wilson always did the perfect thing. Every decision he made seemed to be the right thing. One time I asked him why he batted me fourth or fifth. He said 'when Clyde is pitching I batted him fifth so he didn't have that pressure'. I said 'Clyde can't even spell pressure'. I couldn't have had it any better. I appreciate the opportunity that Carson-Newman gave me."

Karen Morton is the only student-athlete in C-N History to receive the prestigious Emil Liston Award (given to the top male or female athlete) from the NAIA; she was named All-American in 1985 and again in 1986. Morton's career stats, which are among the elite in both the C-N and NAIA record books, include 1,460 points, 604 rebounds, and 142 blocked shots.

Her coach Lewis Bivens recalled what Morton meant to his tenure and ultimately the impact that she made on his life.

"Karen was recruited by over 100 schools and went to the University of Tennessee for her first season," Bivens said of the late Morton. "I read in the Knoxville News Sentinel that Morton was leaving UT. 30 seconds later my phone rang and her father asked if had a scholarship left. We didn't but I said absolutely. With the help of President Maddox we got her a scholarship. She led us during our most prosperous years at Carson-Newman. She was a tremendous person on the court and off of the court.

"In 1991, I had an accident where I was paralyzed. She walked in and left me a letter that I could read after she left. It said that the greatest thing that ever happened in her life was coming to Carson-Newman. It was a crowning moment to me for the kind of person she was."

Bivens led the Lady Eagles to 216 victories between 1979-87 for a .742 winning percentage. His teams made five NAIA Tournament appearances and won six conference championships. He recruited and coached six All-Americans while at Carson-Newman, and with Morton's induction, three C-N Hall of Famers.

"Going to the national tournament was special," Bivens said of his time at Carson-Newman. "The kids getting their degrees and seeing how successful they become. Seeing them do really is really the experience I remember."

The Future

There are numerous people who will be inducted over the next several years as the nominations have been placed for consideration of people already eligible. Those Eagles will be honored shortly but limiting the look to student-athletes that have competed over the past three years there are names that stick out as candidates in the next decade.

Men's basketball player Antoine Davis (class of 2014) has excelled overseas playing professional but put together a stellar career in the Orange and Blue. Davis finished his Carson-Newman career with 1,526 points and at 18.3 points per game, the highest scoring average for any Eagle in the Division II era.  In his senior season, he scored more than 20 points on 15 occasions this season. He hit 29 points on two occasions, both against Anderson. The 2012-13 South Atlantic Conference Player of the Year was a two-time first team All-SAC selection and earned All-American honors as a junior.

Davis's teammate Ish Sanders (class of 2014) has also produced quality numbers in international basketball. He ended his career with 1,922 points – fifth on C-N's all-time scoring list and fourth on the South Atlantic Conference ledger.  He winds up as the all-time leader in made threes for both the SAC and C-N with 343. In his senior campaign, he led the league with 2.0 steals per game.

Running back Andy Hibbett (class of 2015) was a consensus All-American and a Harlon Hill finalist, given to the best all-around player in Division II football. Hibbett produced a season for the ages for the Eagles. Hibbett set a school record by rushing for more than 100 yards in eight consecutive games.  His 1,394 yards on the season are the eighth highest tally in school history.  Hibbett secured his spot in the Eagle record books.  With 37 career rushing touchdowns, he moved past Brandon Baker and Antwon Oliver and into sole possession of sixth place on the all-time rushing TD list. He also ended up with 3,208 career rushing yards.  That mark is also the eighth best in school history.

Running back Damian Baker (class of 2016) became C-N's ninth consensus All-American football player as he became the fourth Carson-Newman player to make it the Harlon Hill final round, and the second in as many years.  He closed out the regular season slate with 1,403 rushing yards to rank No. 11 in Division II, while his 116.9 rushing yards per game was good for No. 20 in the country.  Baker piled up 7.16 yards per carry to rank No. 9 in the nation and his 18 rushing touchdowns are No. 11 in D-II.   The tailback averaged 9.8 points per game to finish at No. 20 in the nation to help the Eagles rank No. 5 in the country as a team with 43.3 points per outing.

Women's basketball standout Tatum Burstrom (class of 2016) wrapped up her career fourth in SAC history with 254 made three-pointers. The program's leader in made triples concluded her four years with 1,234 points, good for ninth in C-N history. The Maryville, Tenn. native scored in double figures 64 times in her four seasons while leading the team in scoring in 30 games. She made at least three three-pointers on 43 occasions. She was just the fifth player in program history to earn postseason plaudits from the league in three seasons after being placed on the All-Freshman Team in 2012-13, an honorable mention All-SAC pick in 2014-15 and being placed on the second-team All-SAC in 2015-16 to cap her career.

Softball standout Elayna Siebert (class of 2016) finished the top nine of the NCAA's Woman of the Year award out of 517 nominees. The Knoxville, Tenn.-native is a two-time first team CoSIDA Academic All-America selection. Siebert (Knoxville, Tenn.) became the fifth Carson-Newman honoree for the league's scholar athlete award and the first for the program since Haley Allen won it in 2004 in mid-May. A three-time All-SAC selection and all-region selection, Siebert was named a first-team All-American as a utility player during her junior year. Siebert finished her career with 115 RBI, 22 home runs, 31 doubles and a .365 average at the plate.  She is tied for eighth all-time in SAC history with 14 triples; she slugged .572 for her career.

Men's soccer most-capped player in program history Sindre Welo (class of 2016) appeared in 77 games during his four years at Mossy Creek. Welo was named a first-team National Soccer Coaches Association of America Scholar All-American on Thursday to become the first Eagle in program history to garner the accolade from the NSCAA. It was one of three All-American honors he earned as he was a second-team selection by the NSCAA and a third-team pick by D2CCA. During his senior campaign, the Norwegian tallied nine goals, which led the team and ranked second in the SAC. Welo tallied his fourth multi-goal game of his career against Catawba on Oct. 10th and his penalty kick against Coker on Oct. 31 clinched Carson-Newman a share of the SAC regular season title. He ranked fourth in the conference with 19 points. He finished his career with 28 career goals, which was sixth-most in program history, and seven game-winning goals. Welo placed seventh in school history with his 71 career points and is tied with four other Eagles for the school record with three made penalty kicks. The senior was also a member of the 2013 team that made a run to the program's first-ever NCAA Championship game. He is a three-time member of All-SAC teams and been bestowed All-Region honors four times.

Current seniors making their final pitch for the Hall of Fame include track and field star Kevin Snead and women's soccer's Julianne Herrity.

Snead, also a wide receiver on the football team, holds the school records for the indoor 60-meter dash at 6.77 seconds, the outdoor 100-meter sprint at 10.21 seconds and the outdoor 200-meter run at 20.75. The three-time All-American was C-N's first-ever automatic qualifier to the NCAA Division II Indoor Track & Field Championships and finished the event with a 10th-place showing of 6.81 seconds. The successful indoor season also resulted in an All-Southeast Region selection for Snead in the 60 meter dash.

Herrity was a third-team NSCAA All-American as junior on top of being named a consensus first-team All-Southeast Region by the NSCAA and D2CCA, the SAC Player of the Year, first-team All-SAC and a three-time SAC Player of the Week honoree. She Scored the ninth-most goals in a season in school history with 16 and handed out four assists. This season Herrity has helped the women's soccer team clinch its second straight SAC regular season title ranking second in the conference with 16 goals and 38 points.

Among the coaches on campus, football assistant head coach and offensive coordinator Mike Turner has been at the helm for the last 33 seasons. As a player, the 1973 alumnus was a standout center for the Eagles and key member of the 1972 NAIA Champion Bowl runner-up team, the first Carson-Newman squad to reach a national title game, under the guidance of offensive coordinator Ken Sparks. Turner has coached in nine national championship games in his career, eight at Carson-Newman and one at the University of North Alabama with four title rings on his resume.

While the tradition of the Carson-Newman Athletics Hall of Fame has changed over the years, Barger believes that the spirit of the accolade has not differed since the inception 31 years ago.

"Nothing has really changed because we are recognizing the hearts of individuals who gave their hearts to play Carson-Newman athletics," Barger said. "You find that while bricks and mortar and the appearance of Carson-Newman has changed and the facilities have been upgraded. The people that represent Carson-Newman athletics, their hearts haven't changed. We might have few more bells and whistles because of the availability of technology and publicity and awards that are given but it will be always be the same." 

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