From Red Grange to Dee Brown, the inaugural selections to the University of Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame are a who’s who of Fighting Illini history.
Illinois announced a 28-member class on Thursday, a group which will be honored in Chicago this summer and officially inducted during a ceremony in Champaign in the fall.
Individuals selected include national hall of fame members, Olympic champions, multi-sport stars and all-Americans in a multitude of sports, chosen from a group of candidates dating to the first Fighting Illini football team in 1890.
“With more than 120 years of athletics excellence to consider, it was an incredibly difficult process to select this small, elite group,’’ director of athletics Josh Whitman said in a statement, recognizing the work of a selection committee. “The Class of 2017 includes some of the greatest names in the history of American sports.’’
Illinois introduced Dick Butkus as the first member of the class last fall when it unveiled plans for a Hall of Fame.
He is joined in the class by football legends Red Grange, George Halas, Claude “Buddy’’ Young and long-time coach Bob Zuppke.
Illinois basketball players chosen include Nick Anderson, Dee Brown, Deron Williams, Mannie Jackson and Jerry Colangelo.
Two other former Illini basketball players, Andy Phillip and Lou Boudreau, join Dwight “Dike’’ Eddleman, Halas and Young, in being recognized as multi-sport standouts at Illinois.
George Huff, a member of the school’s first football team in 1890 who later coached football and baseball and spent more than three decades as Illinois’ athletics director, is also part of the class.
Females in the first hall of fame class include track and field standouts Tonja Buford-Bailey and Perdita Felicien, gymnast Nancy Thies Marshall, golfer Renee Heiken Slone, volleyball star Mary Eggers Tendler and administrator Karol Karhs.
Other members include golfer Steve Stricker, men’s track athletes Herb McKenley, Harold Osborn and Craig Virgin, wrestler Allie Morrison and gymnast Abie Grossfeld.
Fighting Illini coaches selected include track coach Harry Gill and tennis coach Craig Tiley.
The hall of fame class, which includes 16 living members, will be honored June 23 at the Fighting Illini Athletics Hall of Fame Gala at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. Members will also be honored at the Illinois-Nebraska football game on Sept. 29 and be officially inducted at a Sept. 30 ceremony at the State Farm Center.