BOULDER — The ninth class that will be inducted into the University of Colorado Athletic Hall of Fame this November 15 will include 12 Golden Buffalo luminaries with an impressive list of accomplishments equal to or even surpassing any of the eight classes previously inducted since Byron “Whizzer” White was the first and sole inductee in 1998.
The dozen include the school’s first and only Heisman Trophy winner and a Butkus Award recipient among five football lettermen, the Buffaloes’ first and only two-time basketball All-American, a U.S. Open golf champion, a track performer who at one time set 10 world records, several NCAA champions, a Norwegian ski jumper that opened the floodgates for Scandinavians to attend CU, several with Olympic glory and the “Voice of the Buffs” who has called over 1,000 football and basketball games.
The 2012 class will be the largest inducted into the Hall since it was conceived in 1998, as 11 former Buffalo athletes plus one in very special category will join 47 individuals and the entire 1959 ski team which have been enshrined to date. Every decade between the 1930s and 1990s with the exception of the 1960s are represented in the class.
Those to be inducted are (click on each name for complete bios):
Frank Bernardi, Football/Baseball (1952-55)
He was selected not only for his football and baseball accomplishments, but for his heavy involvement in the Alumni C-Club for over 50 years. He rushed for 1,235 yards in his career, fifth-most by a Buff at the time, with his 6.33 average per carry still the fifth-best number by any of the school’s 49 players who have gained 1,000 career yards.
Alan Culpepper, Cross Country & Track (1992-96)
A seven-time All-American in the three disciplines, he was the 1996 NCAA outdoor champion in the 5,000-meter run and still owns the school record in the 1500-meters. He has enjoyed a stellar professional career, including participation in two Olympic games and becoming a seven-time U.S. champion.
Mary Decker Slaney, Cross Country & Track (1977-79)
The first star in any women’s varsity sport at Colorado, she basically established CU’s record book in numerous events and was a six-time All-American before turning professional following her sophomore year. In 1982 alone, she set six world records and at one time or another set world marks in 10 different events. A two-time Olympian, she won the coveted Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the United States for 1982.
Boyd Dowler, Football (1956-58)
Playing in the famed single-wing offense under Dal Ward, Dowler earned honorable mention All-American and first-team All-Big 7 honors as a senior in 1958. He caught 41 passes for 628 yards and 6 touchdowns in his CU career, big numbers for a primarily rushing offense at the time; in 1989, he was selected as a member of CU’s All-Century Football Team. Green Bay selected him in the third round in the 1959 NFL Draft, and he went on to be named the Rookie-of-the-Year and to the league’s all-decade team for the 1960s as he played a major role in Green Bay’s 1960s dynasty, leading the team in receiving seven seasons as the Packers won five NFL titles and posted victories in Super Bowls I and II.
Joe Garten, Football (1987-90)
An offensive guard, he was one of the first three unanimous All-Americans in CU history as a senior in 1990, along with tailback Eric Bieniemy and outside linebacker Alfred Williams that same year, both of whom are already in the Hall. He was also a consensus first-team All-American as a junior and a two-time, unanimous first-team All-Big Eight performer as a junior and senior. He was the runner-up for the Outland Trophy as a senior and still shares the school record for the most starts by an offensive player in school history with 44 from 1987-90.
Jack Harvey, Basketball (1937-40)
He remains the only CU basketball player to be selected twice as a first-team All-American (1938-39, 1939-40), when he led the Buffs to two Mountain States Conference titles, and as a senior, an N.I.T. title and a trip to the NCAA Tournament. Harvey scored 27 points in CU’s 52-37 win at Denver in 1940, at the time the most points scored by a Buff in a single game and virtually an unheard total west of the Mississippi at the time. Known for his tough defense, he was a key performer in limiting the opponent to just 31.2 points per game his junior season and only 37.0 his senior year.
Steve Jones, Golf (1977-81)
One of a just a handful of four-time, first-team all-conference performers in any sport at Colorado, he was a second-team All-American as a senior in 1980-81 when he set school records that still stand, nine top 10 finishes and 10 top 20 efforts. The first recruit of legendary CU coach Mark Simpson (who passed in 2005), he went on to have a solid professional career, including a victory in the 1996 U.S. Open, and he is now making a comeback on the Champions Tour (he’s 60th on the money list but has played just six events).
Leason “Pete” McCloud, Basketball (1939-42)
A first-team All-American, the third in CU basketball history and just the sixth CU athlete in any sport at the time, he was the Buffs’ leading scorer on the 1941-42 team that reached the Final Four (he scored 19 points in a 46-44 win over Kansas that enabled CU to advance in the tournament). He was also a member of the 1939-40 team that won the N.I.T. and was invited to the first NCAA tournament. A two-time All-Mountain States performer (junior, senior seasons), he led the league in scoring both as a junior (14.1 per game) and senior (16.5, big for its day).
Vidar Nilsgard, Skiing (1971-74)
A key performer on the front end of CU’s run to eight straight national titles in the 1970s, he was considered a huge star of his day in the most electrifying discipline, jumping. A three-time, first-team All-American, he was the 1971 and 1973 NCAA jumping champion (he was second in ’74 and fourth in ’72). He was a three-time Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association champion and a four-time member of the All-RMISA Jumping Team.
Matt Russell, Football (1993-96)
He won the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker as a senior in 1996, when he was a consensus first-team All-American; also a two-time, first-team all-conference selection (All-Big Eight as a junior in ‘95; All-Big 12 as a senior in ’96). He finished his career as the second all-time leading tackler in Colorado history (446), with his 282 unassisted tackles setting a school record that still stands, and played in 44 career games, including starts in the last 40. He helped coach the secondary at Colorado in 2000 while assistant coach Tom McMahon was battling cancer; in 2009, he joined the Denver Broncos as their director of college scouting and in 2012 was named their director of player personnel.
Rashaan Salaam, Football (1992-94)
He was just the fourth player in college football history at the time to rush for over 2,000 yards in a season, and did so in an 11-game campaign in 1994 that included six ranked opponents. He led the nation in rushing (2,055 yards), scoring (144 points) and all-purpose yards (213.6 per game) in leading CU to an 11-1 record and winning the Heisman Trophy, the school’s first and only, the Doak Walker Award (nation’s top running back) and the Walter Camp Trophy (national player of the year).
Larry Zimmer, Announcer (1971-present)
He is the first inductee into the Hall who is not a former athlete, coach or administrator; but he’s been a part of more football and men’s basketball games than perhaps anyone else in school history, calling 481 for football and 525 in basketball, or 1,006 total, through the 2011 season. He was awarded an Honorary “C” in 1992, and was honored as the 15th recipient of the Chris Schenkel Award by the National Football Foundation in 2009, which recognizes those who have enjoyed a long and distinguished career broadcasting college football at a single institution.
All inductees were nominated by their peers in the Alumni C-Club or by members of the selection committee; over 60 names originally submitted were pared to 25 finalists and then voted on by the seven-member committee that produced one of the deepest classes in CU Athletic HOF history.
The group will be inducted in the Hall of Fame Thursday night, November 15, be part of the parade at the Pearl Street Stampede and a CU basketball game the next night and will be introduced at halftime of the next day’s CU-Washington football game.