Former basketball standout Bob Harstad of Creighton, track and field legend Kevin Little of Drake, late head basketball coach Ed Jucker of Cincinnati, former coach and athletics director Jim Byers of Evansville, legendary women’s basketball coach Jill Hutchison of Illinois State and late coach and athletics director A.J. Robertson of Bradley highlight the league’s 11th Hall of Fame induction class.
For the fifth time in six years, the Conference will conduct its annual Hall of Fame ceremony as part the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament weekend on March 6-9, 2008. The 2008 Missouri Valley Conference Athletics Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on Friday, March 7. The event will begin with an 8 a.m. breakfast, followed by the induction ceremony at 8:45 a.m.
“The Missouri Valley Conference has always been progressive in its approach to collegiate athletics, and our Hall of Fame ceremony provides the stage to honor six individuals who were instrumental in the development of the Conference and its member schools,” said Commissioner Doug Elgin, who is in his 20th year with The Valley.
“These six individuals all played a significant role -- at the institutional, conference, national and/or international levels -- in the evolution of collegiate athletics. These individuals collectively span eight decades of greatness, and we’re proud to honor them for their accomplishments as Missouri Valley Conference ambassadors.”
Hall of Fame:
BOB HARSTAD, CREIGHTON
A native of Loveland, Colo., Bob Harstad is one of only four MVC players -- Cincinnati’s Oscar Robertson, Indiana State’s Larry Bird and Wichita State’s Xavier McDaniel -- to score 2,000 points (2,110) and grab 1,000 or more rebounds (1,126).
A first-team All-MVC choice from 1989 to 1991, he was named the Missouri Valley Conference’s Player of the Year in 1990 and earned State Farm MVC Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors in 1991.
He led CU to regular-season titles and postseason tournament crowns in 1989 and 1991. He also powered the Jays to two NCAA Tournament appearances and a win over New Mexico State in the first round in 1991.
During his career, the Jays had an overall record of 81-47 and an MVC slate of 38-20.
KEVIN LITTLE, DRAKE
A native of Ankeny, Iowa, Kevin Little is the most decorated track student-athlete in Drake history, having been a four-time NCAA All-American, a member of four U.S. World Outdoor Championship teams and five U.S. World Indoor Championship teams.
Little captured nine career Missouri Valley Conference individual titles and was the 1989-90 recipient of the MVC Medallion Award.
In the 200 meters, he set MVC Indoor Track Championship record (21.15) in 1990 and still owns the all-time MVC indoor track record (20.90 in 1989).
Little ranked in the top 10 in the United States in the 200 meters a total of eight times, beginning as a junior at Drake in 1989 through 2001. He enjoyed his highest ranking (third) in the United States in 1999, behind world champion Maurice Greene and world record-holder Michael Johnson.
He won more medals (five) in World Indoor Track Championships than any sprinter in the history of U.S. track and field, including the gold medal in the 200 at the 1997 World Indoor Track Championships (Paris, France) -- the first Anglo-American to win a major sprint title since 1956.
His gold-medal effort in 1997 matched the American mark of 20.40 seconds.
ED JUCKER, CINCINNATI
Ed Jucker of Cincinnati is arguably one of the greatest men’s basketball coaches in Missouri Valley Conference history.
Jucker saw his teams put together a single-season, school-record win streak of 22 games (1960-61) and a Cincinnati record 37-game consecutive victory string over the 1961-62 and 1962-63 campaigns.
A two-time Rawlings MVC Coach of the Year selection (1961 and 1963), he powered the Bearcats to three-consecutive Missouri Valley Conference crowns and NCAA Tournament appearances.
He was named the 1963 National Coach of the Year by United Press International, U.S. Basketball Writers Association and New York Writers Association.
He led UC to back-to-back NCAA national titles in 1961 and 1962 -- only the second time in league history that’s happened.
He mentored a total of six All-Americans, including Ron Bonham (1963), Paul Hogue (1961 and 1962), Tom Thacker (1963), Bob Wiesenhahn (1961), George Wilson (1963) and Tony Yates (1962 and 1963).
A.J. ROBERTSON, BRADLEY
A native of St. Paul, Minn., A.J. Robertson is the ninth Institutional Great selection for The Valley’s Hall of Fame.
The Institutional Great distinction honors a player, coach or athletic administrator who competed or worked at a current league school, when the institution was not a member of the Missouri Valley Conference.
The winningest coach in Braves basketball history, he coached the baseball, basketball and football teams simultaneously for 26 years while also serving as athletics director. His combined, triple-sport coaching record was a remarkable 704-407-16 (.632).
On the basketball court, he led BU to its first four postseason tournament appearances -- the 1930 National AAU Tournament and the NIT in 1938, 1939 and 1947. In fact, the 1938 and 1939 National Invitation Tournaments were the first two NITs.
In his role as head coach and administrator, he successfully directed Bradley out of the small-school Little 19 conference affiliation into a nationally
recognized athletic program and eventually into the Missouri Valley Conference.
Robertson Memorial Field House is named in his honor, and it served as the men’s basketball home arena from 1948 to 1982.
JIM BYERS, EVANSVILLE
A native of Evansville, Ind., Jim Byers of the University of Evansville is the seventh honoree in The Valley’s Lifetime Achievement category.
The Lifetime Achievement category honors, when appropriate, former players, coaches, administrators or alumni who competed, worked or attended a current league school.
Serving as head football coach from 1966 through 1976, he compiled second-highest winning percentage in UE history, winning four conference championships and leading the Purple Aces to the 1974 NCAA playoffs.
As Evansville director of athletics from 1977 to 1998, Byers brought back UE’s program from a tragic airplane crash involving the school’s men’s basketball team in 1977 -- Evansville’s first year at the Division I level.
He helped form both the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (now Horizon League) and Heartland Collegiate Conference.
Providing leadership for the addition of women’s sports to the UE program and the evolution of the Purple Aces’ 16-sport athletics department, Byers saw Evansville qualify for 11 NCAA men’s soccer tournaments (including two Collegiate Cups appearances), four NCAA men’s basketball tournaments and two NITs and one NCAA baseball tournament.
The chief proponent of UE joining the MVC in 1993, he was chosen as recipient of the 2007 Gary Cunningham Lifetime Achievement Award by the Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association in July.
JILL HUTCHISON, ILLINOIS STATE
A native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Jill Hutchison of Illinois State University is the eighth honoree in The Valley’s Lifetime Achievement category.
Hutchison was a pioneer in the sport of women’s basketball, as she influenced the game from relative obscurity to its current level of expanding popularity.
A head coach for 28 seasons (all at ISU), she compiled a 461-323 mark and qualified her teams for 12 national tournaments.
In all, her teams earned seven AIAW State Championships (1972, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1981) and grabbed five Gateway Collegiate Athletic Conference titles (1983, 1985, 1988, 1989 and 1990).
She guided the Redbirds to three NCAA Tournament appearances (1983, 1985 and 1989) and seven WNIT showings (1971, 1980, 1982, 1984, 1988, 1990 and 1996).
Hutchison coached two U.S. Olympians -- Charlotte Lewis in 1976 and Cathy Boswell in 1984 -- and served as head coach of the 1978 National Junior Team that captured the silver medal at the Pan American Games. She also led the 1983 USA World University Games Team to a gold medal as head coach.
A three-time Rawlings MVC Coach of the Year, Hutchison was chair of the basketball rules committee and was on the front line during the controversy surrounding the decision to switch to the “baby ball.”
She is a member of the Illinois State University and University of New Mexico Athletics Halls of Fame.