Troy announces first HOF class

Published 9:50 am Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The inaugural class to be inducted into the Troy University Athletic Hall of Fame was announced on Tuesday.

The class of 11 consists of former and current student-athletes, coaches and administrators.

“This is another first for Troy University,” athletic director Steve Dennis said. “We are extremely proud of them all and we extend our congratulations to them and their families.”

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The Troy Athletic Hall of Fame will be housed inside the rotunda of the new Trojan Arena. The induction ceremony is set for August 10th with tickets being made available to the public.

“(The Hall of Fame) will be an interactive and proud place to enshrine our new inductees,” Dennis said. “As we continue in the future, we have an opportunity now to honor those and salute those that have meant so much to Troy University.”

Three of the inductees were on hand at a press conference to speak with the media.

Sim Byrd, who played quarterback on Troy’s 1968 national championship team, is one of six football inductees.

“Any time you are represented this way by your university is something really special,” Byrd said. “To be a part of this first class is something special.”

In his time with the Trojans (1966-68), Byrd steered his teams to a 24-8 record and still holds several of Troy’s all-time passing records.

Current head football coach Larry Blakeney is also including in the class.

“There are some great people that initiated and started this program and athletics,” Blakeney said. “Certainly my thanks would have to go to those guys we have been able to sign and bring here to play the game of football.”

Blakeney was a 2009 inductee into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. The coach has led the Trojans to wining campaigns at three different divisions of play (Division II, Division I-AA, Division I-A). He is one of just two coaches to lead the same program through three divisions to the Football Bowl Subdivision.

Head basketball coach Don Maestri will also be enshrined with the inaugural class. Maestri just completed his 30th season with the Trojans.

Under Maestri, three Troy teams finished seasons leading the nation in scoring (1991, 1992, 1996).

“It’s a heartfelt thing to be involved with the first class,” Maestri said. “I’m really a representative of 30 years of players and coaches. All of thos guys are a part of this honor.”

Other members of the class include: Ralph Adams (administrator), Billy Atkins (football), Vergil Parks McKinley (football), Denise Monroe (women’s basketball), Charles Oliver (track & field), Chase Riddle (baseball), Mike Turk (football), and DeMarcus Ware (football).


2012 Troy University Athletic Hall of Fame Class

Ralph Adams – Administrator – Ralph Adams became President of Troy State University in 1964 and remained in that role for 25 years before retiring in 1989. Under his administration, Troy State achieved university stature and more than doubled its enrollment. Athletically, the Trojans won the NAIA national championship in football in 1968, a pair of NCAA Division II football championships (1984 & 1987), two NCAA Division II baseball titles (1986 & 1987) and numerous NCAA Division II national titles in golf and track & field. Adams passed away on May 13, 1998.

Billy Atkins – Football – Billy Atkins coached the Troy State football team for six seasons from 1966 to 1971 and led the Trojans to the 1968 NAIA national championship. Atkins also led TSU to three Alabama Collegiate Conference championships (1967-68-69), and his 44 career victories rank as the second most in University history. He was the two-time NAIA District 27 Coach of the Year (1967-68) and was the NAIA National Coach of the Year in 1968. He served in the dual role of football coach and athletic director from 1969 to 1971. Atkins was the most valuable player on the 1957 Auburn national championship team and played professionally for San Francisco, Buffalo, Denver and the New York Jets.

Larry Blakeney – Football – A 2009 inductee into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, Larry Blakeney has been at the forefront of the move of the Troy University football program from the ranks of Division II, through Division I-AA and into Division I-A. In the spring of 2011, Blakeney was awarded with the ultimate honor – the playing surface at Veterans Memorial Stadium named in his honor. Blakeney has led Troy to eight conference championships, including five straight Sun Belt titles (2006-10) and has coached 61 players that have gone on to play professional football. Blakeney has guided the Trojans to 15 winning seasons, including six seasons of 10 wins or more, and he currently stands fourth among all college coaches to have manned a sideline in the state of Alabama with 164 victories. While a member of the Football Championship Subdivision (former I-AA), the Trojans enjoyed one of the most successful runs in school history. Over eight seasons, the Trojans advanced to the national semifinals twice and the FCS postseason seven times, including an NCAA-record four consecutive seasons after making the move from NCAA Division II in 1993. When the Trojans jumped to Football Bowl Division (formerly I-A) status, Blakeney made NCAA history, becoming one of only two coaches to lead a program from NCAA Division II to the FBS. During the summer of 2000 he was honored with the Johnny Vaught Lifetime Achievement Award by the All-American Football Foundation. Blakeney has guided the Trojans to five bowl game appearances. His 21 seasons on the sideline in Troy make him the third longest tenured coach at the FBS level, behind just Chris Ault at Nevada and Frank Beamer at Virginia Tech.  Prior to his arrival in Troy, Blakeney had a variety of roles in 14 seasons at Auburn.

Sim Byrd – Football – One of the greatest players ever to play at Troy State, Sim Byrd still owns many of the program’s all-time passing records. During his three seasons at quarterback (1966-68), he guided the Trojans to a 24-8 record and the school’s first national championship (1968). He was named a first team All-American as well as being named all-conference in the Alabama Collegiate Conference after his senior year. As a senior, Byrd set then single-season records for passing yards (3,569), completions (260) and pass attempts (414). He is the Troy career record holder for touchdown passes (68) and total offense (7,373), ranks second in career passing yards (7,619) and third in attempts (924) and completions (575). He is a member of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.

Don Maestri – Men’s Basketball – Over the past 30 years, Don Maestri has guided the Troy men’s basketball program from a fledgling Division II program to conference championships in three different Division I leagues. Along the way he has racked up almost 500 victories, nine 20-win seasons and seven conference championships. The most recent championship came in 2010 when Maestri led the Trojans to their first-ever Sun Belt regular season title. Five different conferences have called Maestri its coach of the year, tying him with West Virginia’s Bob Huggins for the most among active coaches. Maestri, who is Troy’s all-time winningest men’s basketball coach, has also gained acclaim for his scoring teams. Troy has led the nation in scoring three times (1991, 1992 and 1996), as well as leading the nation in 3-pointers seven times (1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2004, 2005, 2006). On Jan. 12, 1992, Troy became the first team to score 200 points in an NCAA basketball game, defeating DeVry, 258-141. Troy hit 51 three-pointers during the game, still a NCAA record, and only one other team at all NCAA levels has scored 200 points since.

Vergil Parks McKinley – Football – A professor at the Troy Normal School, Vergil Parks McKinley was charged with the task of fielding the school’s first football team. McKinley, who attended the University of Alabama, but never received a football letter, had 14 players try out for the first team, but kept just 11. He guided that squad to a 1-0-2 record in his only year as the head coach. He went on to serve as a faculty member at the University of Alabama from 1918 until his retirement in 1945. Both Troy University and the University of Alabama award a Virgil Parks McKinley Employee Award on a regular basis. McKinley passed away on July 3, 1954.

Denise Monroe – Women’s Basketball – The all-time leading scorer in Troy women’s basketball history with 2,024 points, Monroe took over basketball games across the country from 1977 to 1981.   Monroe led the Trojans to a 21-9 record during the 1978-79 season as she averaged 18.1 points and 11.9 rebounds per game.  The Quitman, Ga., native also ranks second in Troy history with 1,312 career rebounds and holds the Troy career records for field goal attempts (1,515), field goals made (823), free throws attempted (609) and free throws made (378).  She scored a season-high 31 points in a 76-70 victory over Auburn and set a school record with 26 rebounds in a 65-49 victory over South Alabama during the 1978-79 season. A 1981 All-American, Monroe’s No. 30 uniform was retired on Nov. 14, 1998 and is still the only retired jersey in Troy women’s basketball history.

Charles Oliver – Track & Field – Charles Oliver, or Coach O, was a national champion as an athlete, a coach and an administrator. Oliver, who is Troy’s 400-meter record holder at 45.71 seconds, was a national champion athlete at Troy State University, winning the NAIA 400-meter championship in 1976.  He was an alternate on two United States Olympic teams in the 400 meter and the 4×400 meter relay. He sponsors two meets at Troy, the Coach O Cross Country Invitational and the Coach O Track & Field Invitational. Oliver was a coach for the 1991 University of Tennessee national champion track & field team and an administrator with the 1998 Tennessee national champion football team. He is also a successful businessman and is heavily involved in supporting grassroots track and field programs for kids. Oliver heads up the Tennessee Track & Field Officials Association and set up practicum and intern programs for sports management students at the University of Tennessee. Oliver is a member of Theta Phi Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, where he was one of 20 brothers of the charter line that brought the first black fraternity to the Troy State campus. He was also recognized as one of the charter members of the Troy Letterwinners Club.

Chase Riddle – Baseball – Chase Riddle is the all-time winningest coach in Troy baseball history with 434 victories as the head coach of the Trojan baseball program from 1979 to 1990. Riddle led the Trojans to the NCAA Division II national championship in 1986 and 1987 and guided Troy State to 10 NCAA Tournament appearances in the 12 years he was at the helm of the program. His teams won six regional titles, five Gulf South Conference championships and played in six NCAA Division II World Series. Riddle’s teams posted a 253-59-1 record at the field that now bears his name and produced 30 All-Americans and 36 first team All-Gulf South Conference players. He was a member of the inaugural Troy Baseball Hall of Fame class in 1992 and is a member of both the Wiregrass Sports Hall of Fame as well as the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. Riddle came to Troy following 25 years as a player, manager and scout with the St. Louis Cardinals. Riddle passed away on June 12, 2011.

Mike Turk – Football – Mike Turk led the Trojans to a pair of NCAA Division II national championships in 1984 and 1987. He earned first team All-Gulf South honors three times (1985-86-87) and first team All-America honors in 1987. During his career the Trojans posted a 40-8-1 record and captured three Gulf South Conference titles. While playing quarterback, Turk finished his career as the second leading rusher in school history with 2,533 yards trailing only his teammate Ted Horstead’s 2,926 yards. Turk is second all-time in Troy history with 32 career rushing touchdowns, fourth in total offense (6,707), sixth in career passing yards (4,174), sixth in pass attempts (490), seventh in completions (245) and seventh in career touchdown passes (30). Following his playing career, Turk joined the Troy State coaching staff as an assistant under Larry Blakeney in 1991 and remained at his alma mater for 12 years before taking over as head coach at Huntingdon College.

DeMarcus Ware – Football – DeMarcus Ware is one of the best defensive players to ever play at Troy University and has turned in a wildly successful professional career. Ware, who was named to the Sun Belt Conference All-Decade Team, has played in six Pro Bowls, been named to the NFL All-Pro Team six times and was the 2008 NFC Defensive Player of the Year. Ware’s 55.5 career tackles for loss are tied for the most in Trojan history while his 27.0 career sacks rank as the fifth best mark in school history. He was a finalist for the 2004 Hendricks Award which is presented annually to the nation’s top defensive end. Ware helped lead the Trojans to the 2004 Silicon Valley Football Classic – the University’s first-ever bowl game – while earning Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year honors. The Dallas Cowboys selected Ware with the 11th pick of the 2005 NFL Draft and he has been dubbed the best 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL by Sporting News and the most dynamic defender in the NFL by ESPN.