Athletes gather to recognize 2008 Hall of Honor inductees
A retired Harlem Globetrotter, an NFL head coach and special former Olympians, all linked by where their careers began – the University of Houston.
It wasn’t a typical reunion for the former UH athletes – they gathered as nine individual Cougars and one team were inducted into the Hall of Honor as the 2008 class at the Hall of Honor gala on Friday at the Hyatt Regency hotel, 1200 Louisiana Street.
"Every great university recognizes people who have distinguished themselves on the field of play," UH Athletics Director Dave Maggard said.
"You folks have done that while representing the University of Houston. We thank you… because you have helped establish tradition at the University of Houston, and we want our younger athletes to really learn from this and model after you."
Former quarterback David Klinger, whose records for touchdown passes (91), career yards (9,430) and total offense (9,327 yards) still stand, said he was proud to be part of the school’s athletic history.
"There’s such great tradition at the school," he said.
Dallas Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips, who was a linebacker on the Cougar football team from 1966-68, credits the experience he gained as a player and as a graduate assistant working with the defensive unit under former head coach Bill Yemon for his success as an NFL head coach.
"It’s a great honor for me. I enjoyed my time here. I kind of grew up here as a coach, and so it’s very important to me," Phillips said.
For Louis Dunbar, who played for the Cougar basketball team from 1972-75 and professionally with the Harlem Globetrotters for over 25 years, his time at UH still stands as a highlight of his career.
"I had the four best years of my life at the University, so it’s always a pleasure to come back and see (old teammates) and have some old memories come back," Dunbar said.
UH head football coach Kevin Sumlin said the athletes in the 2008 class reflect highly on the University.
"It speaks to success in the past," Sumlin said. "Just walking around up there with (former UH head football coach) Jack Pardee and (former players) Ken Bailey and David Klinger… guys who have been inducted, guys who are going in tonight… just shows what kind of world-class University we really have."
Sumlin said being able to interact with UH legends was a positive experience not just for him, but for his players as well.
"It is important when the guys see somebody that (they’ve) seen on TV and that person is in front of them, and it becomes tangible," Sumlin said.
Other inductees include sprinter Kirk Baptiste, who won a silver medal at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles behind Carl Lewis, who won gold; volleyball player Rita Crockett, who helped the US team place second at the 1984 Olympics and the 1967-68 men’s basketball team, which played in its second consecutive NCAA Final Four in 1968.
Proceeds from items auctioned at the gala will provide scholarships for student-athletes. The 2008 class was introduced at halftime of Houston’s game against Tulsa on Saturday, and a nameplate will be added for each inductee in the Hall of Fame in the Athletics/Alumni Center.