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By: CUBuffs.com
Dozen Greats Inducted Into CU Athletic Hall Of Fame
Release: November 16, 2012
By: David Plati, Associate AD/Sports Information
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BOULDER — During an evening filled with stories, anecdotes, emotion and humor, the best line may have been appropriately delivered last as 12 new members were inducted as the ninth class into the University of Colorado Athletic Hall of Fame.

The “Voice of the Buffs,” Larry Zimmer, who has called over 1,000 football and basketball games dating back to 1971, was the last inductee of the evening … done alphabetically, he was as often the case, last. But it worked to perfection for this event, as he signed off citing his peers in the class by exclaiming the thrill of being selected and, “The opportunity to stand shoulder to shoulder with the greatest of all Buffs.”

Follows are the inductees with their select comments and/or memories they recalled (for complete bios, please reference the original Hall of Fame release from July). 

Frank Bernardi, Football/Baseball (1952-55)
He got the evening rolling by stating, “This is a helluva time to have a senior moment.” He joked that when Mike Bohn (CU athletic director) called to inform him of his selection, he wondered why Mike would be calling him at 8 p.m. and that he finally figured it out “That Mike thought I had some eligibility left. Seriously, he delivered to me what I would call a verbal sledge hammer when he told me, “Frank, you’ve been selected for the CU Athletic Hall of Fame.” Bernardi thanked several people, most notably his coaches, Dal Ward and Frank Prentup, and the late Fred Casotti, a life-long friend who was CU’s sports information director when he was in school.

Alan Culpepper, Cross Country & Track (1992-96)
Upon receiving the Hall of Fame trophy, which of course featured a buffalo sculpture, he noted that his four kids would have some fun playing with it … and then alluded to his photo among the 12 and made fun of some of his hairdos he would wear during his time at CU. He specifically thanked two coaches, the late Jerry Quiller who he said was a straight shooter during his recruiting visit (“my interaction with him sealed the deal” that he was going to CU), and Mark Wetmore, CU’s current head coach who started out as a volunteer assistant and one of his first specific assignments was to tutor Culpepper and get him back on track after he his performances had slipped his first couple of years. He went on to become a seven-time All-American and an NCAA champion.

Mary Decker Slaney, Cross Country & Track (1977-79)
She made it clear that she never transferred to Oregon; living in Eugene since moving there in 1979 after turning professional, Decker said people in Eugene automatically assume she went to Oregon. “I’m not a Duck,” she said. “In my heart, I was always a Buff and it was heart wrenching to find out that I was a member of this great class.” She reminisced about Title IX being in its infancy and that the NCAA didn’t sponsor women’s sports, asking how many remembered what the AIAW was. Suffering from assorted leg and shin injuries, she said she didn’t think it was fair for her to go anywhere, but that CU’s women’s track coach at the time, Rich Castro, said he was willing to take a chance on her.

Boyd Dowler, Football (1956-58)
Dowler recounted how he was a 17-year old in Cheyenne and that his parents had him ticketed to attend the Air Force Academy. “I’m thrilled to be inducted. When you’re a skinny 17-year old, you have no idea it would end up like this. I was originally going to go the Air Force Academy … that was until I took the test. But I didn’t want to be a pilot any way, I wanted to be an athlete.” He thanked his father, who reached out to Kayo Lam at CU after he didn’t make it into the Air Force, and that Kayo would get coach Dal Ward interested in a 6-foot-4, 175-pound receiver in June, two months ahead of camp. Ward not only was interested, but he had enough faith in Dowler to play him at quarterback.

Joe Garten, Football (1987-90)
Garten opened by looking over his shoulder at the photos of the dozen inductees. “Everyone else up here, they all had great stats. An offensive linemen getting in with these people – wow. I still get excited when I come back here and coming over that hill into Boulder. It’s a spectacular sight I never get tired of.” He thanked his coaches and a couple of administrators, but made a point to honor is scholarship donors, John and Shaaron Parker (who also coordinated the Ralphie program), and his brother Steve, who at first couldn’t attend but wound up driving 1,100 miles on Tuesday to be here for him.

Jack Harvey, Basketball (1937-40)
Harvey passed away some time ago, but his daughter Gail accepted for the family. “Daddy came from a small town in Kansas (Frankfort), about 100 miles south of Lincoln and 60 or so north of Manhattan. The town has a population of 627 today. That was just after the Great Depression and the family, the town, was poor. He told me stories of how his mother took one potato and made soup for his entire (high school) basketball team. Frosty Cox (CU basketball coach) convinced him to come out to Boulder, so he traveled here in the back of a pickup truck with two shirts, two pairs of pants, two sets of socks and a pair of shoes. He fell in love with the university and Boulder the minute he got here.”

Steve Jones, Golf (1977-81)
Jones could not be in attendance, much to his chagrin, and hoped to come back at the next induction to thank everyone. He is in Florida at Champion Tour qualifying, which found him tied for 16th with one round left, three strokes back of fifth as the top five will earn their cards for 2013; the next seven will be conditionally exempt. By phone, he said he was, “Humbled by such an honor, credited his late head coach Mark Simpson for everything he meant to him and his never-wavering support throughout his professional career.”

Leason “Pete” McCloud (1939-42)
McCloud could not attend as he is in a nursing home in Newton, Kan., but master of ceremonies Charles Johnson cited all his accomplishments in the early 1940s in helping CU be a basketball power west of the Mississippi.

Vidar Nilsgard, Skiing (1971-74)
He could not attend due to his wife developing some health issues, but the skier largely credited with opening the floodgates for Scandinavians to attend CU under coach Bill Marolt had Stein Sture, CU Vice Chancellor and engineering professor and a classmate accept on his behalf. Sture noted that “ski jumping is a curious sport, gravity defying as the skiers seem to float on the air, and looks dangerous but very few people actually get hurt.” He relayed that Vidar hoped to return Boulder as soon as next summer.

Matt Russell, Football (1993-96)
The always jovial Russell said he rivaled Culpepper in bad 90s hairstyles and said he was sure his father called CU and said not to use any pictures of him with a mullet or a Mohawk, or wearing earrings. “I was about 225 pounds when I got here, and I see Greg Biekert at a rock solid 250m and I was thinking, ‘If they want the scholarship back, they can have it.’” But he’s always been humble. “You get awards like this when you’re surrounded by great players. And I have to give a lot of credit to my position coach, Brian Cabral.” He also cited Gary Barnett for having the confidence in making him a temporary assistant coach in 2000 when Tom McMahon was battling cancer, noted that started his transition into what he does today.

Rashaan Salaam, Football (1992-94)
Salaam shared with the audience that his mother (Khalada) wasn’t going to sign the letter-of-intent for him to attend CU. “She wanted me to go to Stanford, but Stanford was like La Jolla Country Day (his high school) on steroids. CU was the best place for me to achieve my dreams. But I arrived here cocky and undisciplined. Coach Mac (Bill McCartney) and all the coaches helped me so much.” He specifically thanked several people, including Brian Cabral who recruited him. “He believed in me after looking my film.” He closed with a reading of Rudyard Kipling’s poem, If, dedicating it to current CU football coach Jon Embree (If you can keep your head when all about you … Are losing theirs and blaming it on you …
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you … etc.), altering the ending to, “and if you do, the Buffs will rise again!”

Larry Zimmer, Announcer (1971-present)
Zimmer opened with “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d ever be up here,” noting that he was the emcee at most of the first eight ceremonies. He recalled that when he received an Honorary “C” some 20 years ago, that his relationship with the University of Colorado, “Couldn’t get any better. It just got better. To go in with this class, to be a part of this group – wow. This recognition is the best because it represents the largest portion of the body of all my work.” He shared a story of him growing up and attending LSU games in New Orleans where he group up, and the irony of his first game he would call for the Buffaloes on Sept. 11, 1971, was in his hometown. The Buffs defeated the Tigers, 31-21, “A great way for the team to start and a great way to start for me as well.”

The 2012 class is the largest inducted into the Hall since it was conceived by then-athletic director Dick Tharp in 1998, as the Hall now numbers 59 individuals in size, along with the entire 1959 ski team which have now been enshrined to date.
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