Greater Knoxville HOF Inducts 2017 Class

The Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame welcomed 10 members of the local athletic community to their most recent class at the 36th annual dinner and induction ceremony held on Thursday, Aug. 3 at the Knoxville Convention Center.

Among the inductees were four individuals with close ties to University of Tennessee athletics. Former offensive lineman and member of the 1951 national championship team Jim Haslam II, point guard of the 1987 Lady Vols national championship team Dawn Marsh, former head baseball coach Rod Delmonico, and former defensive back and wide receiver J.J. McCleskey all joined the ranks of other legendary UT inductees like Robert Neyland, Pat Summitt, and Phillip Fulmer.

In addition to the of the Class of ’17 induction, the ceremony also featured guest speaker Inky Johnson, a former UT safety who suffered a career-ending injury in 2006 that left his right arm paralyzed. Johnson, who has found a career in motivational speaking, addressed his injury during his speech and talked about how it allowed him to gain a better perspective on making an impact in life. He now lives in Atlanta with his wife and two children, and spends time mentoring underprivileged youth and athletes.

The recognition of past and present Vols did not stop there, however. Thirty years after they delivered Tennessee its first national championship in women’s basketball, the 1987 Lady Vols team was awarded the Emmet P. Buck Vaughn Legacy Award, formerly known as the Thanks for the Memories Award. Guard Shelley (Sexton) Collier spoke on behalf of the team, fondly remembering the experience of winning the first championship of Pat Summitt’s illustrious career.

Marsh, who started at point guard for the ’87 team, went on to set the record for assists in a career at Tennessee (755). She also holds the distinction of scoring the first-ever basket at Thompson-Boling Arena in 1987. Marsh now teaches physical education in Duluth (Ga.), and also works as a collegiate referee.

Haslam, who attended UT from 1948-1952, starred on UT’s consensus national championship team in 1951 and as team captain, led a 1952 Volunteer defense that allowed the lowest completion percentage in Tennessee history (37.9). Following his senior campaign, Haslam earned 1952 All-SEC Second Team accolades. After his collegiate and military career, Haslam founded the Pilot Corporation and became a well-known contributor to East Tennessee communities and the Tennessee campus. He currently serves on the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees.

Delmonico coached the Vols from 1990-2007, becoming the winningest coach in program history along the way. He led Tennessee to three appearances in the College World Series and was named SEC coach of the year in 1994 and 1995.

McCleskey was a wide receiver for UT from 1989-1992, appearing in 45 games over his career. A former walk-on, McCleskey earned a scholarship and was named a captain during his senior season, leading the 1992 team to a 7-3 record.  The undrafted rookie went on to play eight seasons as a wide receiver and defensive back in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints and Arizona Cardinals.

Fellow inductees included Buck Vaughn (founder of the Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame), Todd Collins (football), George Quarles (coaching), Kevin Swider (hockey), and Rebecca O’Connor (Bowling).

The Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame benefits the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley.

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Source: University of Tennessee Athletic Department

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