2010 NIU Athletics Hall of Fame Class Announced
June 15, 2010
DeKALB, Ill. - Northern Illinois Athletics announced the latest additions to its Athletics Hall of Fame on Tuesday as one team and four individuals make up the 2010 class and will be inducted into prestigious company on Friday, October 22 as the Huskies celebrate Hall of Fame Weekend/Varsity Club Day during the fall home football weekend.
The 2010 induction class: Jay Graziano (baseball, 1974-75), NIU's only Mid-American Conference Triple Crown winner; T.J. Lux (men's basketball, 1995-2000), NIU's all-time leading scorer; Tom O'Neill (special category, baseball, 1966-68), one of the top NCAA men's basketball officials of the last 30 years; Martha Unger (Grace) (women's gymnastics, 1987-91), NIU's first four-time NCAA Regional participant; 1978-79 men's gymnastics team, the first undefeated dual-meet team in program history.
"I would like to congratulate the members of our new Hall of Fame class," NIU associate vice president and athletics director Jeff Compher said. "What these Hall of Famers have accomplished is truly outstanding. As Huskies, they provide great examples of how successful NIU student-athletes can be, not just on the fields of play, but in life.
"We moved our Hall of Fame Weekend/Varsity Club Day to stand on its own weekend last year and it could not have turned out any better," he continued. "We had a great crowd, it was really a special and unique day to see so many Huskie legends back on campus. We are looking forward to the weekend again this year, headlined by Friday's induction banquet. It's always a very tradition-filled Cardinal and Black event."
While the details of the annual Hall of Fame Banquet have not been announced, the 2010 inductees will also be honored at halftime of the NIU-Central Michigan football game on Brigham Field at Huskie Stadium on Saturday, October 23 at 2:30 p.m. (Central). Single game tickets for the 2010 home schedule will go on sale in July.
The 29th induction class will join the current famed 184-individual, 15-team roster of the Northern Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame, which was founded in 1978. The charter NIU men's Hall of Fame induction took place in 1978, and after a five-year hiatus, it resumed on an annual basis in 1983. The women's Hall of Fame originated in 1986 and the two halls were combined in 1988. The storied group represents a virtual "Who's Who of Huskie athletics" featuring early program pioneers, All-America picks, national champions, top 20 teams, All-Pro athletes, and prominent sports-related figures.
This year's Hall of Fame Selection Committee was chaired by NIU director of transportation Bill Finucane. The committee also included Cliff Bottigliero, Rodney Davis, Andrea Hein, Brad Hoey, Donna Martin, Dave Mason, and Chuck Morgan.
The Northern Illinois University 2010 Athletics Hall of Fame inductees:
Jay Graziano (Lombard, Ill./St. Joseph's-Westchester), baseball, 1974-75
T.J. Lux (Merrillville, Ind./Merrillville), men's basketball, 1995-2000
Statistically, Lux ranks at the top of the NIU career records for points (1,996), rebounds (1,110) and point-rebound double doubles (59). He sits second in field goals made (738) and blocks (156), while he ranks third in free throws made (490) and games played (116), and fifth in steals (130). As a starter in every game of his career, Lux led the Huskies in rebounding and blocks in all four complete seasons (1995-98, 1999-2000), missing the 1998-99 season due to shin splints after five games. He led NIU in points and free throws made in three seasons (Points: 1995-96, 1997-98, 1999-2000; Free Throws Made: 1996-97, 1997-98, 1999-2000) and led the Huskies in steals for two seasons (1997-98, 1999-2000). In 1996-97, Lux ranked 24th in the nation in rebounding (9.7/game). In 1997-98, Lux led the MAC and ranked sixth in the nation in rebounding (11.1/game) and ranked 65th in the country in scoring (18.6/game). In 1999-2000, Lux ranked 27th in the nation in scoring (19.9/game). For his career per game statistics, Lux averaged 17.2 points, 9.6 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, 1.2 assists and 1.1 steals in 32.7 minutes, while shooting .490 percent from the field, .273 from the three-point line and .690 from the free-throw stripe.
Post NIU, Lux was drafted by the USBL and CBA in 2000 but opted to play professional ball overseas in Giessen, Germany (2001-02), Reims, France (2002-04), Pau-Orthez, France (2004-06), and Dijon, France (2006-07). With Dijon in 2005-06, Lux was the tourney MVP for a quintet that won the French Cup in the Pro A Division (May, 2006) and won a berth in the FIBA All-Star Game (March, 2007). In 2003-04, Lux earned league MVP laurels for Reims at the Pro B Division level.
Tom O'Neill (Blue Island, Ill./Eisenhower), baseball (1966-68), outstanding NCAA basketball official
Playing baseball at NIU and refereeing basketball games runs in the O'Neill family as his two sons, Rick and Tom Jr., are also Division I officials, while his other son, Michael, is a D-II and D-III official, aspiring to reach D-I. Michael (1995-98) and Tom Jr. (1992) also wore Huskie baseball uniforms as infielders. On November 30, 2001, three of the O'Neill's became the first family trio to officiate an NCAA basketball game as Tom, Tom Jr. and Rick O'Neill all worked the contest in Milwaukee, Wis. between host Marquette and Houston Baptist.
Aside from his career in the NCAA, O'Neill had a brief stint in the NBA, working the 1989-90 season before deciding to stay with the college game. Throughout his career, O'Neill has also been heavily involved with high school basketball in Illinois. In 2002, he was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. O'Neill has been the supervisor of officials for the south-suburban Chicago area's South Inter-Athletic Association Conference for 25 years. Additionally, O'Neill has the longest running basketball officiating camp, "The Tom O'Neill Officiating Camp," that will be run for the 24th time this year. O'Neill has also impacted the Chicago area softball scene as he was inducted into the Chicago 16 Inch Softball Hall of Fame in 2000. That same year, he became vice-president of the Amateur Softball Association, where he served as one of 101 commissioners throughout the U.S. since 1985. O'Neill was the director of the Blue Island Softball League for 22 years. From 1980-89, all ASA major championships were won by Blue Island teams.
In his days of competition, O'Neill played baseball and basketball at Eisenhower H.S. before becoming a Huskie. In 1966, he played in four games as an infielder for NIU, picking up a hit and run scored, for a team that went 13-6-1 and recorded a second-place finish in the Interstate Intercollegiate Athletic Conference with a 6-2 mark. O'Neill worked in the Sports Information Office at NIU during the fall and winter of 1966-67 as a statistician under Bud Nangle. In 1967, O'Neill played in all 35 games at second base for NIU and led the team in walks (33) for a 20-14-1 squad. In 1968, he hit .287, led NIU in walks (23) and ranked second in doubles (6) and runs scored (19) for a 13-14-1 team. While at Northern, he majored in physical education and journalism.
Martha Unger (Greenbelt, Md./Eleanor Roosevelt), women's gymnastics, 1987-91
1978-79 Men's Gymnastics Team
In breaking many school records during the unblemished season, NIU went 3-0-1 against nationally ranked teams, went 4-0 against the Big Ten and won the prestigious Husky Classic. The Huskies set school records for highest team total score (218.90 vs. Indiana State, Feb. 10, 1979), pommel horse (9.90 by Mike Burke vs. Houston Baptist, Ball State, Nov. 20, 1978; vs. Indiana State, Feb. 10, 1979; vs. Iowa, March 3, 1979), still rings (9.80 by Kirk Mango at NCAA Mideast Regional, March 24, 1979), horizontal bar (9.45 by Steve Phillips vs. Indiana State, Feb. 10, 1979) and all-around (54.45 by Breck Grigas vs. Ohio State, Feb. 24, 1979), and tied school mark for floor exercise (9.50 at Windy City Invitational, Nov. 18, 1978; vs. Arizona State, Jan. 10, 1979).
Following a fifth-place finish out of 14 teams at the Windy City Invitational to start the season, the Huskies quickly got on track with wins over Ball State and Houston Baptist. Three days after tying No. 4 Iowa State on the road, No. 10 NIU Defeated No. 7 Arizona State at home on Jan. 10, 1979 as the Huskies stood up to national competition during the regular season and moved into the No. 9 spot nationally. NIU kept riding the wave of momentum by claiming first place out of six teams at Houston Baptist's prestigious Husky Classic. The Huskies set a then-school record team total score with a 214.55 in a win over No. 5 Southern Illinois on Feb. 3, 1979. Seven days later, NIU smashed the team total score record with a 218.90, defeating No. 3 Indiana State at home on Feb. 10, 1979 to move up to a No. 8 national ranking. The Huskies even handled Division II's No. 1 team, Illinois-Chicago Circle, with a victory on Feb. 15, 1979. With a win over Illinois on Feb. 20, 1979, NIU improved to No. 7. With their next win, a road triumph over the Big Ten's best team, Ohio State, the Huskies established the program's best start to a season with an 8-0-1 record in dual meets. After beating Illinois State and Wisconsin, NIU finished its first undefeated dual-meet season (11-0-1) with a 218.40-202.35 victory at home over Iowa on March 4, 1979 and moved on as a team to the postseason.
As hosts of the NCAA Mideast Regional, the Huskies took third out of 11 teams and had a program record seven Huskies qualify for Nationals (Mike Burke, Kirk Mango, Breck Grigas, Mark Goodson, Dave Abrahamson, Brian Witek, Neal Sher), while Mango took the Regional title on the still rings with a school record 9.80 and finished with the region's highest winning total of 19.500. As a result of the team's success in 1978-79, Ehrlich was named Mideast Gymnastics Coach of the Year for the second time in three seasons. At Nationals, Burke (first place, 9.80 on pommel horse), Mango (first place, 9.80 on still rings) and Goodson (seventh place, 9.40 on floor exercise) advanced to the NCAA Championships. On their way to becoming All-Americans for the second consecutive season, Burke and Mango won national championships. Burke's 19.425 total on the pommel horse was better than his 19.425 from his national title in 1978, leaving the Huskie as the two-time national champion and a three-time All-American. Mango posted a 19.425 on the still rings to avenge his second-place finish in 1978, earning his second All-American honor. Goodson posted a then-NIU record 9.55 on floor exercise on his way to a fifth place tie at 19.900, earning his second straight All-American honor, completing an All-American repeat by the trio. For his outstanding performance all season, Burke was one of seven nominees for the 1979 Nissen Award, which is presented to the nation's top gymnast each year. Additionally, on June 9, 1979, Burke was featured on ABC's television program "Wide World of Sports" that highlighted the 1979 NCAA D-I championships in gymnastics, track and field, and volleyball.
Furthermore, the best team all-time team in program history was comprised of the program's only U.S. Olympian (Breck Grigas, Alternate in 1980), one of the two all-time U.S. National Team members (Breck Grigas in 1980-81), two of the three all-time national champions (Mike Burke, pommel horse in 1978-79; Kirk Mango, still rings in 1979), and four of the 10 all-time All-Americans. The 1978-79 Huskies hold five of the program's 14 individual all-time score records.
The 1978-79 roster: Dave Abrahamson (Skokie, Ill./Niles East), Fred Bista (Arlington Heights, Ill./Buffalo Grove), Mike Burke (Skokie, Ill./Niles East), Mark Busse (Addison, Ill./Addison Trail), Kevin Collins (Butler, Pa.), head coach Charles Ehrlich, Mark Goodson (Glen Ellyn, Ill./Glenbard South), Breck Grigas (Hinsdale, Ill./Central), graduate assistant coach Mike Heiberger, student assistant coach Larry Lampasona, Kirk Mango (Downers Grove, Ill./Willowbrook), Tim Olsen (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Wheeling), Steve Phillips (Elk Grove, Ill.), Neal Sher (Wilmette, Ill./Niles East), Mark Titre (Arlington Heights, Ill./Arlington), Dave Vrany (Elmhurst, Ill./York), Terry Wight (Rockford, Ill./East), Brian Witek (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South).