BOULDER — The fifth class that will be inducted into the University of ColoradoAthletic Hall of Fame this October 28 spans seven decades of athletic achievement at the school, with the group collectively participating in six different sports ranging from football and basketball to baseball andtrack.
The 2004 class includes three-sport star Don Branby (football, basketball and baseball, 1950-52), Eddie Crowder (football coach and athletic director, 1963-84), Cliff Meely (basketball, 1968-71), long-time coach Frank Potts (cross country/track and football, 1927-68), Shelly Sheetz (women’s basketball, 1991-95), Olympic gold medal winner Bill Toomey (track, 1959-61) and John Wooten (football, 1956-58).
Potts passed away in 1990 at the age of 87; Crowder and Meely have established permanent roots in Colorado; Branby isretired and lives in Washington state; Toomey owns his own long-standing business in California and is currently attending the Summer Olympic games in Athens; and Wooten went into player personnel in the National Football League following his playing days and resides in Texas.
While none of the inductees were teammates, Potts coached Toomey in college, recruiting him to CU from New Canaan, Conn.,and the Worchester Academy in Massachusetts.
Here's a capsule look at those being inducted as the fifth class of CU's Athletic Hall of Fame:
Don Branby: Football, Baseball & Basketball
A three-sport letterman (earning nine total), his top honor was being named an Associated Press All-American in football in 1952, when he set what are still CU records with seven fumble recoveries and nine takeaways. Published reports at the time said he had at least 20 tackles in a 21-21 tie with Oklahoma, the Sooners’ lone blemish in their famous Big 7 run. A seventh round draft pick by the N.Y. Giants in the 1953 Draft (79th overall), he went on to become an assistant coach at Montana and then in the Canadian Football League. In basketball, he scored 165 points in 45 career games in primarily a reserve role, though he led the team in free throw percentage in 1951-52, making a then unheard of 39-of-48 tries (81.3%). In baseball, he played first base, third base and in the outfield; his 16 runs batted in were the third most on the team his senior year. He also spent four years in the Air Force, playing service football in which he also earned high accolades. After his playing days, he went on into coaching in college at Montana State, and then in the Canadian Football League with the British Columbia Lions and the Ottawa Roughriders. He is currently retired, living in Anacortes, Wash.
Eddie Crowder: Football Coach/Athletic Director
He compiled a 63-49-2 record in 11 seasons as head coach (1963-73), returning CU to prominence following NCAA penalties in 1962 that all but crushed the program. The banner year was 1971, when Colorado enjoyed its first 10-win season, as the Buffs attained their highest rank ever (No. 3), finishing with a Bluebonnet Bowl win over Houston and a 10-2 record. In 1965, he became CU’s second-ever athletic director, holding that post for 20 years until retiring in 1984. Prominent coaching hires of Crowder’s included Bill McCartney (football), Ceal Barry (basketball) and Mark Simpson (golf), three of the most successful coaches in school history. In 1990, he was inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. As a collegian, he was an All-American quarterback at Oklahoma, and as coach of the Buffaloes, he defeated his alma mater four times, including a 20-14 in 1972 when the Sooners were ranked No. 2. He entered private business after leaving CU, and is semi-retired and lives in Boulder.
Cliff Meely: Basketball
He exited CU following his senior year with all the scoring records and as the runner-up in all the rebounding marks; some 33 years later, he still holds the mark for single game (47) and season (729) scoring and is second in career points (1,940) and rebounds (971), as his name remains either at or near the top in over a dozen categories. He owns the two top single season scoring averages in CU history (28.0 as a senior in 1970-71 and 23.8 as a sophomore in 1968-69), and his 12.1 rebounds per game average for his career remains one of the top numbers ever posted collegiately. He led CU to the Big Eight title in 1968-69, as the Buffaloes were 21-7 with a 10-4 mark in league play; CU won 49 games in his three-year career, the fourth most over any three-year span in CU history. His jersey number (20) is one of two retired in CU history. He went on to play six seasons in the National Basketball Association with the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers. Currently a counselor at Manual High School in Denver, he resides in Boulder.
Frank Potts: Track/Football Coach
Frank Potts tenure at CU ranks second to none; he coached the cross country and track teams for 41 years (1927-1968), coaching countless all-conference and all-Americans in addition to five NCAA individual champions and over fifty conference champions. And in the days of World War II, he even coached the football team three seasons, compiling a not-to-shabby 16-8-1 record. A 1927 graduate of the University of Oklahoma, where he was an NCAA champion pole vaulter, he accepted the track and field coach position that summer and CU turned out to be the only job of his professional career. He developed many CU athletes, including CU’s first NCAA champion, high jumper and one-time world record holder Gil Cruter. In 1970, he became the third person associated with CU to be inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. The track at CU is named for him, and he played a significant role in recruiting Byron White to Colorado. He died May 28, 1990 at the age of 87.
Shelley Sheetz: Women’s Basketball
CU’s first (and only) Kodak All-American, she was also afforded the honors from AP, Basketball Times and the USBWA in 1994-95, when she was one of five finalists for the prestigious Naismith Award. She finished her career as CU’s second all-time leading scorer with 1,775 points, a figure that still ranks third a decade later; she is also second all-time in assists (514), third in both free throws made (425) and attempts (501), third in steals (287) and is CU’s all-time leader in three-point field goals made (252), a number that finished as the most all-time in the Big Eight Conference. A three-time, first-team All-Big Eight performer (the only player selected thrice in school history), she was a two-time team MVP and the Big Eight Player of the Year for 1994-95. She averaged scoring in double figures all four of her seasons, leading the team as a sophomore and was the second-leading scorer the other three years. CU was 106-21 during her career, including a 49-7 mark and three league titles in Big Eight play. Currently an assistant coach at the University of San Diego.
Bill Toomey: Track & Field
A two-time All-American in the pentathlon (1960, 1961), he is the only CU athlete to win a gold medal as an individual in the Olympics, winning the decathlon in the 1968 summer games at Mexico City (setting a record at the time with 8,193 points)... He At CU, he was considered one of the nation’s top five intermediate hurdlers and won numerous AAU national titles in both the pentathlon and decathlon. As a senior in 1961, he received the Alumni “C” Award for academic and scholastic achievement, graduating with a degree in advertising (he went on to earn his master’s in education from Stanford). He was the national Amateur Athlete of the Year for 1966, when he was the U.S. decathlon champion (he won that event four straight years prior to his Olympic gold). A member of the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, he was the fourth with CU ties when inducted in 1971. Currently a resident of Arroyo Grande, Calif., he has owned his own company, Sports Directions Unlimited, for over two decades and has extensively worked with underprivileged children. He is currently in Athens attending the Summer Olympics.
John Wooten: Football.
One of the first two African-American football players at CU (with Frank Clarke)... He lettered three years at guards (1956-57-58), earning AFCA All-America honors as a senior in 1958 and was a first-team all-Big Seven performer as a junior the previous year... He was described as a quick, agile tackle who provided bone-crushing lead blocks in helping to make Colorado one of the top offensive teams of his day... He also played tackle on defense... A fifth round draft pick by Cleveland in the 1959 NFL Draft, he had a stellar NFL career as he played nine seasons (136 games) with the Browns and one with Washington... He went on to have a long career in NFL administration with Dallas and Philadelphia. He resides in Arlington, Texas, and is a currently scout for the NFL Baltimore Ravens.
CU's Hall of Fame was initiated in 1998 with sole inductee, the late Byron "Whizzer" White (football, basketball, baseball, track, 1935-38), CU’s first All-American in any sport. The second class was inducted in 1999, as the Hall took in Gil Cruter (track, 1934-37); Burdette "Burdie" Haldorson (basketball, 1952-55), William "Kayo" Lam (football, 1933-35), Joe Romig (football, 1959-61) and Lisa Van Goor (basketball, 1981-85).
The third class in 2000 class was comprised of Ambassador David Bolen (track, 1946-48); Jimmie Heuga (skiing, 1961-63), Dean Lahr (wrestling, 1962-64) and Pat Patten (wrestling/cross country & track, 1940-47). The fourth and previous class was inducted in 2002 and featured Dick Anderson (football, 1965-67), Harry Carlson (baseball coach and athletic director, 1927-65), Darian Hagan (football, 1988-91), Carroll Hardy (baseball, football and track, 1951-54), Hale Irwin (golf and football, 1964-67) and Sox Walseth (men’s and women’s basketball, 1956-76 and 1980-83).
This year’s Hall of Fame event will take place the weekend of the CU-Texas football game, with functions starting Thursday, October 28, at the Omni Interlocken Hotel & Resort (details will be forthcoming, but the event will start at 7 p.m. and will be open to the public free of charge). The honorees will be introduced publicly at halftime of the game on that Saturday (time to be announced).