ATHLETICS

University of Tampa Announces Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2012

TAMPA, Fla. – A former Major League Baseball player and several who advanced to the professional ranks lead a cast of eight former student-athletes and three contributors to the 2012 class of the University of Tampa Athletic Hall of Fame. The class will be inducted in a 7 p.m. ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 18 at UT’s Vaughn Center.

The inductees include Jeff Carter (baseball), Elias Gonzales (cross country), Idris Mays (men’s basketball), Ronnie Merrill, Jr. (baseball), Karen Petrie (swimming), Eric Sims (soccer/baseball), Karen Solis (volleyball) and Laura Woznicki (cross country).

The contributors include longtime UT athletics supporters Dick Crippen, Jay Miller, and Vince Naimoli. Tino Gonzalez will receive the Sam Bailey Lifetime Achievement Award.

UT will also induct three former teams under the special category selection. The 1967-68 men’s basketball, the NCAA II champion 1998 baseball and the 1980 national record-setting 400 Free Relay swimming team will each earn Hall of Fame recognition.

“This is an outstanding group of individuals who are great ambassadors of the University,” says athletic director Larry Marfise. “We are thrilled to welcome this group, who will carry on the tradition of the Hall of Fame.”

Tickets are available for $75 per person. A table of eight is discounted to $500. For information, please E-mail gswalls@ut.edu.

Members selected will be honored at a banquet to be held at the Vaughn Center, beginning with a 6 p.m. reception followed by a 7 p.m. dinner.

Jeff Carter played for UT from 1985-87, is one of six Spartans to advance to the major leagues, playing for the Chicago White Sox. A two-time first-team all-South Region selection in 1986 and 1987, Carter was also named to the NCAA South Regional all-tournament team in 1986 and 1987. He was a first-team all-SSC honoree in 1986 and second-team choice in 1987 and ranks ninth in UT history with eight career complete games.

Elias Gonzales ran for UT from 2002-03 and remains the lone All-American in Spartan men’s history, earning accolades in 2003. He was named all-South region in 2002 and was a two-time first-team all-SSC runner (2002-03). The SSC Runner of the Year in 2002 and 2003 remains the lone runner in program history to earn male runner of the year. He was also named to SSC Silver Anniversary Team, where he was honored as the Top Male Runner in SSC history.

Idris Mays starred for Tampa from 1991-95 and capped his career as the 1995 SSC Player of the Year. The two-time all-SSC selection was also a member of the all-South region team. He ranks sixth in UT history with 1,625 career points and fourth in single-season scoring with 692 in 1994-95. His 812 career rebounds rank third in Spartan history as he is one of three Tampa players to rank in the top-six in scoring and rebounding. Mays played 120 career games for Tampa, starting 117 and is also a member of the Sunshine State Conference Hall of Fame.

Ronnie Merrill, Jr. led Tampa to the 1998 NCAA Division II Baseball Championship, earning Most Valuable Player honors at the tournament.  Named SSC Player of the Year in 2000, he was a four-time All-SSC selection, garnering first-team accolades in 1998 and 2000.  He was also tabbed Freshman of the Year in 1997.  Merrill, Jr., was named first-team All-American and All-South Region in 2000.  He earned second-team All-Region distinction in 1998.  Merrill, Jr., played some of his best baseball when it counted most in the postseason, earning a spot on the all-tournament team at the 1997, 1998, and 2000 regional tournaments.  He still holds the UT career records for runs (262), hits (339), triples (24), RBI (228), and total bases (504).

Karen Petrie swam for the Spartans from 1984-88, winning national championships in the 100 fly and 400 free relay in 1987. She was a part of two national titles in the 400 free relay as she also won in 1988. Petrie earned All-America honors in 1987 and 1988.

Eric Sims was a dual-sport star from 1996-2000 in soccer and baseball. In soccer, he was named 1998 first-team all-South Region, 1998 second-team all-SSC honors and a 1995 honorable mention all-SSC selection. Among single-season leaders, he ranks fifth in saves with 80 in 1997 and sixth with 68 in 1998, third with .850 save percentage in 1998, sixth with 0.74 GAA in 1995 and eighth with 0.75 GAA in 1998. He also ranks first in UT history with 243 saves, eighth with 3.28 saves per game, ninth with a .767 save percentage, ninth with 1.07 GAA and third with 16 shutouts. In baseball, he helped Tampa to the 1998 national championship and was a member of the 1998 NCAA South Regional all-tournament team. The 1996 SSC Freshman of the Year and 1998 second-team all-SSC choice ranks second in UT history with 49 stolen bases in 2000. Among career leaders, he ranks fifth with 228 games played, ninth with 156 games started, fifth with 848 at bats, sixth with 208 runs, fourth with 281 hits and second with 113 stolen bases. He also owns UT school records with six hits in a game (4/9/00 vs. Eckerd) and two triples in a game (3/16/98 vs. UMass-Lowell). He currently serves as assistant men’s soccer coach at his alma mater.

Karen Solis played volleyball from 1987-88 and was an influential player in getting the program started. She was the first in a long line of good setters in program history and set the stage for many top setters to choose Tampa. She was a 1988 first-team All-American and first setter in program history to be named All-American. Solis was also a two-time AVCA all-South Region (1987, 1988) selection who became first UT player named to NCAA Championship all-tournament team (1988). She was also honored as a first-team all-Sunshine State Conference (1987, 1988) choice. She currently ranks in the all-time rankings in assists per set: 3rd (11.96), service aces per set: 3rd (0.53) and assists: 6th (2906). Among single-season leaders, she ranks in service aces: 1st (86 in 1988), service aces per set: 3rd (0.68 in 1988), assists: 5th (1547 in 1988) and assists per set: 9th (12.18 in 1988).

Laura Woznicki ran for the Spartans from 2004-07 and ended her career as a 2007 All-American. She became the second runner in program history to be named All-American. A two-time all-South Region (2006, 2007), she was also a two-time first-team all-Sunshine State Conference (2005, 2007) selection while being the 2007 SSC Female Runner of the Year. Woznicki was also selected to the 2007 USTFCCCA all-academic team. She ran in four NCAA championship races, helping team to top-20 finish all four years.

Dick Crippen is among a list of three contributors entering the Hall of Fame. A longtime supporter of UT athletics, the popular former sports anchor has been a friend of Spartan athletics since the 1960’s. He currently works with the Tampa Bay Rays and remains a popular sports speaker who has contributed to several UT events and functions.

Jay Miller was a championship soccer coach from 1978-86 who led UT to the program’s first national championship in 1981. He compiled a record of 120-39-8 (.743) in nine seasons and  guided Spartans to four SSC Championships. He helped Tampa to six NCAA tournament appearances (1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986) and is also a member of the Sunshine State Conference Hall of Fame.

Vince Naimoli is a chairman emeritus of the UT Board of Trustees and in 1999 established UT’s Naimoli Institute for Business Strategy. The Naimoli family’s support has also funded improvements at UT’s tennis and softball complexes, now called, respectively, the Naimoli and Young Family Tennis Complex and the Naimoli Family Softball Stadium, as well as endowed scholarships for a male and female student athlete. It was recently announced that he would also receive naming rights to the new lacrosse facility, which is scheduled for completion during the 2012-13 season. He was also a major contributor to upgrading weight room in 1990’s.

The Sam Bailey Lifetime Achievement Award will be given posthumously to Tino Gonzalez, who was a longtime donor and local supporter of Spartan athletics. Gonzalez is the grandfather of alums Tino and Rene Martinez and was influential in both attending UT.

The 1967-68 men’s basketball team is one of three special category inductions in the class of 2012. The team finished the season with a 15-9 record and registered the first winning season in six years and second in a 17-year span. It was the first of three winning seasons by head coach Dana Kirk, which also included an 18-9 campaign in 1969-70.

The 400 free relay team from 1988 set a new national record. The team included Mike Halfast, Jeff Fagler, Bill Key and George Brew. The national record time was clocked at 2:59.61 to win the national title.

The 1998 baseball team captured the third national championship in program history and was coached by Terry Rupp. The team finished the season with a record of 46-14 and defeated Kennesaw State to win the title.

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