The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame today announced the names of 11 inductees to be enshrined at its annual banquet on Friday, Feb. 11, 2011, at the Renaissance Hotel in Nashville.
“This year’s banquet will feature an outstanding class of athletes and sports personalities,” said Bill Emendorfer, president of the state-wide sports organization.
“We’ll have a former NFL standout, a former Olympic gold medal winner, and perhaps the one individual who has influenced basketball more in the state of Tennessee than anyone. I can assure an exciting evening for everyone who loves sports …an evening you will truly never forget.”
The 2011 Inductees are as follows:
Don Meyer --- The former Lipscomb University head basketball coach, Meyer is the all-time leader in coaching wins in NCAA basketball history. After coaching at Lipscomb for 24 years where his teams averaged 32 wins per season over his last 10 seasons, he moved to Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D.. He retired from coaching following the 2009-2010 season with 923 wins in a career that spanned four decades. He is serving as a Regents Distinguished Professor and Assistant to the President at Northern State.
Meyer was named NAIA National Coach of the Year following both the 1988-89 and 1989-90 seasons. He took the Bison to 13 national tournaments and won the 1986 NAIA National Championship. He was elected to the NAIA Hall of Fame at the age of 47 and was honored last July at the ESPYS with the Jimmy V. Perseverance Award.
Thomas Henderson, Jr (Posthumous) --- A multi-sports standout at Vanderbilt University, Tom Henderson earned nine varsity letters from 1929-33. He was named captain for both the football and baseball teams and played quarterback for the late Vanderbilt head football Coach Dan McGugin. While a student at Vanderbilt, Henderson was awarded the Bachelor of Ugliness, the university’s highest honor. He was named to Grantland Rice’s All-America football team, and in 1957, Sports Illustrated named Henderson to its Silver Anniversary All-America Football Team.
Following college, Henderson’s athletic accomplishments continued. He was the 1931 Tennessee Valley Golf Association State Champion and in 1945, was the Nashville City Golf Champion. Later in 1967, he qualified for two national sporting events the same year---the 1967 U. S. Open and the National Masters YMCA U.S. Handball Championship. He won the ’67 National Masters U.S. Handball Championship and the Southern Handball Doubles Championship in ’68.
Barbara Jones-Slater --- A former Tennessee State University Tiger Belle, Barbara Jones-Slater at the age of 15 became the youngest woman to win an Olympic gold medal in track and field …and she still holds that distinction. In the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, Slater and her teammates captured the gold medal breaking the world record in the 4 X 100 relay. She struck gold again in the 1955 Pan American games and later in the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome as a member of the TSU Tiger Belles 4 X 100 winning relay team.
Currently living in Atlanta, Slater has served as a member of the Paralympics games committee and the Atlanta committee for the Olympic games youth advisory educational council.
Bob Dudley Smith --- A native of Nashville, Bob Dudley Smith was an outstanding athlete at West High School excelling in both basketball and baseball. During his four years at West High, the basketball team made three consecutive trips to the TSSAA state basketball finals. His senior year, Smith was named the Nashville Banner’s 1948 Interscholastic League’s Most Valuable Player and was named to the Tennessee State Basketball Tournament All-State team in 1947-48. He was named the state’s Most Outstanding Men’s Player the same year.
Following graduation from West High School, Smith was offered a basketball scholarship to Vanderbilt University (only the school’s second basketball scholarship offered. The first went to former fellow West High School standout Billy Joe Adcock). Smith was also offered a contract with the Boston Red Sox organization. He said he accepted the Vanderbilt scholarship, “because he knew that was the only way he could get a good education and baseball could still be an option following graduation.”
William R. “Bill” Battle, III (Lifetime Achievement Inductee)-- A native of Birmingham, Bill Battle was an outstanding tight end on the University of Alabama’s first national championship team under Coach Bear Bryant. Following graduation he entered the coaching profession serving as an assistant at the University of Oklahoma, the United States Military Academy and the University of Tennessee—where in 1970 he was named head coach after four years. During his tenure as head coach at Tennessee, his teams went 59-22-2, ranked twice in the top-10 twice in the top-20 and won 4 of 5 bowl games.
In 1978, he returned to his home state and held various management positions, including president of two separate companies, with Circle S Industries. During his tenure, the company grew in earnings from $12 million to $60 million. He then founded Battle Enterprises, Inc., later to become The Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC), the nation’s oldest and largest marketing agency dedicated to providing domestic and international licensing services to the collegiate market. CLC represents 200 colleges, universities, bowls and conferences, as well as the NCAA and The Heisman Trophy. In 2007, CLC was acquired by IMG, the world’s premier sports and entertainment marketing company. IMG College is now headed by Pat Battle, and Bill remains active in CLC and its related businesses.
He was named first team tight end on the University of Alabama All-Decade Teams of the 1960’s, and in 1981 was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.
Jackie Walker (Posthumous) --- A native of Knoxville, Jackie Walker was an outstanding student athlete excelling in football, basketball and baseball. His head football coach at Fulton High, Lon Herzburn (who later became Jackie’s position coach at the University of Tennessee) worked with the young Walker and helped him develop athletically and academically. Following graduation from Fulton, Walker accepted a football scholarship at the University of Tennessee, becoming the first African-American student from Knoxville to receive a sports scholarship to attend the University of Tennessee or any other SEC university.
During his tenure at UT, freshmen were not allowed to play varsity. His sophomore year he was a starting linebacker. His junior year he lead the Vols defense with 82 tackles and 42 assists. Walker was a two-time All-American and his senior year was selected team captain--the first African-American to be selected captain for a sports team in the SEC.
Following his senior year, Walker was drafted by the San Francisco 49’ers. Following a brief professional career, he relocated to Atlanta. He was inducted into the Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame in 2008. Jackie Walker died in 2002.
Timothy (Tim) Edward Irwin --- A native of Knoxville, Tim Irwin grew up following the Big Orange football program, so it came as no surprise when offered an opportunity to play for Tennessee he jumped at the opportunity. Irwin was one of 30 players who signed football scholarships with Tennessee in 1977, and of that number nine went on to play in the NFL. His senior year Irwin was named All-SEC tackle and also won an NCAA Post-Scholarship Award for academic work in pre-law. He was named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll in both 1979 and 1980.
Irwin was a third-round draft pick in 1981 and played in the NFL from 1981 to 1994, including a 13-year career with the Minnesota Vikings. Following his retirement from the NFL in 1990, he returned to Knoxville where he earned his law degree and was admitted to the Tennessee Bar. He practiced law in Knoxville until 2005 when he was appointed Judge of the Juvenile Court of Knox County. He was the co-founder of the Catholic Youth Football league and has sponsored the Tim Irwin/Food City Bass Tournament with proceeds benefitting the Boys and Girls Club of the Tennessee Valley. The tournament has raised in excess of $550,000 since 1990.
John Lewis Hudson --- Born in Memphis, John Hudson grew up in Paris, TN where he was a standout football player for the Henry County Patriots. During his senior year, the Patriots went 10-0, he was named team captain and All-State (AP), Wendy’s All-South Team and starred in the Tennessee-Kentucky All-Star Game. Following graduation, he signed a scholarship with Auburn University where he was starting center from 1986-89. In 1989, he was named to the Coaches All-SEC team and was presented the Ken Rice Award for the Best Blocking Lineman.
Following graduation from Auburn, he was drafted by Coach Buddy Ryan and the Philadelphia Eagles. In 2000, he was signed by the Baltimore Ravens where he played on the Super Bowl XXXV Championship team. Following his professional football career, Hudson returned to his home of Paris where he serves as a high-school football coach for his alma mater, the Henry County Patriots.
John R. “Jack” Eaton --- Born in Warren, Pa., Jack Eaton is known to thousands of University of Memphis fans as the “Voice of the Tigers.” Eaton began his broadcasting career in 1954 in Columbus, GA. He moved to Memphis two years later and joined WMC Radio and TV. There he served as sports director and anchor for WMC-TV Channel 5 and WMC-AM 790 from 1956 until his retirement in 1991.
In his role as Voice of the Memphis Tigers, Eaton broadcast Tigers basketball from 1959 to 1987 and football from 1964 to 1986. During his time as “Voice of the Tigers,” Eaton’s famous exclamations of “Great Scott” and “Great Caesar’s Ghost” became synonymous with his play-by-play of Tiger sports.
In addition to college sports, Eaton did radio play-by-play in the 1950’s and 1960’s for local high school football games and the Memphis Chicks baseball in 1957. In 1959, Eaton became the first Memphis television sportscaster to announce professional wrestling.
During his career in the Bluff City, Jack Eaton became the area’s most noted and impactful television and radio sports personality.
Marynell Meadors --- Raised in Nashville and a graduate of Hillsboro High School, Meadors decided in the seventh grade her future was coaching women’s basketball. Following graduation from high school, she attended Middle Tennessee State University and there began coaching women’s basketball before it became a varsity sport and prior to Title IX. In 1970 following the passage of Title IX, she moved to Cookeville and became the women’s head basketball coach at Tennessee Tech University. She coached the Golden Eagles for twenty seasons, compiling a 363-138 (.724) lifetime record. While coaching at Tech, she won six consecutive Tennessee state championships, four Ohio Valley Conference championships and two Metro Conference championships. She was twice named Ohio Valley Conference Coach of the year and became the first major women’s college coach to win 350 games at one institution.
In 1986, Meadors accepted the head coaching position at Florida State University where she led the program for ten years. In 1991, the Seminoles won the Metro Conference Championship and advanced to the second round of the NCAA.
Meadors is currently the head coach and general manager of the Atlanta Dream of the Women’s National Basketball Association and was one of the original eight head coaches when the WNBA was formed in 1997.
Elizabeth Henderson --- Henderson began playing tennis when she was eight years old and she’s still at it. By the age of 12, she was playing in Southern and National tournaments. Her highest Southern ranking was #1 in the Girl’s 14s and Girl’s 16s. Henderson’s highest national ranking was when she attained the #9 position in the Girl’s 14s. She was ranked No. 16 nationally in the Girl’s 16s.
After leaving junior tennis, Henderson played for the University of Tennessee/Chattanooga (UTC) women’s tennis team. During the 1970’s, UTC played SEC, ACC and Big Ten schools because a conference for women had not yet been established. She was named to the All-American team on each of UTC three AIAW Small College National Championship teams.
Following college graduation, Henderson began her college coaching career at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Following two years at UNC, she moved to the College of William and Mary. In 1983, Henderson moved back to Knoxville to head the women’s tennis program at the University of Tennessee. After four years of leading the Lady Vols program, Henderson lightened her schedule to meet the demands of raising a family. She then took over the tennis program at the Peninsula Club in Knoxville where she entered her 30th year of teaching at the grassroots level.
Along with these inductees, a number of individual and team “honorees” will be recognized at the annual banquet on February 11. Those recipients will be announced soon and will include the Male and Female Amateur Athlete of the Year, and the Professional Athletes of the Year.
Reservations for the awards banquet and induction ceremony are available from the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame for $125.00. For more information on the event, call the TSHF office at (615) 242-4750 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame is a statewide, nonprofit organization founded in 1966 to honor and preserve outstanding sports achievements in Tennessee.
This release was provided by the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.