MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE ANNOUNCES 2017 HALL OF FAME CLASS

MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE ANNOUNCES 2017 HALL OF FAME CLASS

Six iconic names in MAC history—Jen Brown-Mascari, Dwight Gardner, Antonio Gates, Betsy Kuhle, Dan Majerle and Ron Oestrike—will be inducted into the MAC Hall of Fame on May 31, 2017.

Cleveland, Ohio – The Mid-American Conference announced today the 2017 MAC Hall of Fame Induction Class as six new members will be inducted in the MAC Hall of Fame on Wednesday, May 31 during the MAC Honor’s Dinner at the Cleveland Renaissance Hotel.

 

The six inductees are Jen Brown-Mascari (Ball State, field hockey), Dwight Gardner (Ohio, wrestling), Antonio Gates (Kent State, men’s basketball), Betsy Kuhle (Western Michigan, women’s tennis), Dan Majerle (Central Michigan, men’s basketball) and Ron Oestrike (Eastern Michigan, baseball).

 

“It is only appropriate for our Conference to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of our former students, coaches and administrators, specifically these six individuals, and their achievements during their time competing in the Mid-American Conference,” said Dr. Jon Steinbrecher, MAC Commissioner.  “We are honored to welcome them to the Mid-American Conference Hall of Fame.”

 

“The Mid-American Conference Hall of Fame is a testament to the achievements of those that have competed and served in this great Conference,” added Steinbrecher.

 

The MAC Hall of Fame was approved by the MAC Council of Presidents in 1987.  The charter class was inducted in 1988 and subsequent classes were added in 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1994.  After six induction classes, the MAC Hall of Fame maintained 52 members until it was reinstated in May of 2012.  This year’s class brings the number of MAC Hall of Fame inductees to 87 individuals from 12 classes.

 

Tickets are available for the MAC Honor’s Dinner on Wednesday, May 31 at 6:00 pm ET at the Cleveland Renaissance Hotel.  Individual tickets ($100 each) and a table of ten ($950) are available for purchase. Contact Julie Kachner at the Mid-American Conference office at 216-566-4622.

 

Complete bios for the 2017 MAC Hall of Fame Class are listed below.

 

MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE

Founded in 1946, the Mid-American Conference is an NCAA Division I, 12-member conference that sponsors 23 championships and is one of 10 members of the Football Bowl Subdivison (FBS). With total enrollment of nearly 300,000 students, the league represents institutions of higher learning in five (5) states – Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, and Ohio.

 

Current MAC schools that hold full membership and the year they joined are — East Division: University of Akron (1992), Bowling Green State University (1952), University at Buffalo (1998), Kent State University (1951), Miami University (1947), Ohio University (1946). West Division: Ball State University (1973), Central Michigan University (1971), Eastern Michigan University (1971), Northern Illinois University (1975-86, rejoined in 1997), University of Toledo (1950), Western Michigan University (1947). The conference office is based in Cleveland, Ohio.

 

Bios on the 2017 MAC Hall of Fame Class:

 

Jen Brown-Mascari – Ball State (field hockey):

Jen Brown-Mascari was part of the class that helped Ball State to a four-year 70-19-2 overall record. During her collegiate career, her Cardinals teams went undefeated in MAC play with a record of 45-0, won four MAC Championships and appeared in three NCAA Tournaments, including two final-eight appearances.

 

As a midfielder, Brown set school and MAC records in goals scored with 80 and total points with 193. She started in all 91 games during her career and was a 1994 All-MAC Second Team selection and was named MAC Freshman of the Year in 1994. Brown was a three-time All-MAC First Team selection (1995-97) and was named 1996 MAC Player of the Year.

 

Her senior year in 1997, Brown was named Woody Hayes National Female Scholar Athlete and Indiana’s NCAA Woman of the Year, an All-America First-Team selection. She was named a two-time All-America Second Team selection (1995 and 1996) and a three-time All-Midwest Region First-Team honoree (1995-97).

 

Brown was a three-time Academic All-MAC selection, was twice named MAC Commissioner’s Award for academic excellence, selected as the 1997 Presidential Award for academic excellence, named GTE At-Large Academic All-District V selection (1996, 1997) and three-time National Academic Squad honoree (1995, 1996, 1997).

 

Since her graduation, Brown has taught and coached at both Culver Military Academy and Guerin Catholic School. She was named the 2002-03 Ball State Alumnus Softball Coach of the Year and was inducted into the Ball State Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006.

 

Brown graduated in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science in physical education and currently resides in Indianapolis, Ind., and is married to husband, Tom, and the couple have three children.

 

Dwight Gardner – Ohio (wrestling):

Dwight Gardner was the 1998 NCAA National Champion at the 158-lb weight class and during his collegiate career at Ohio was a four-year letter winner, was team MVP in both his junior and senior seasons and was named the Green and White Senior Student-Athlete of the Year in 1998. Gardner finished his career with a 123-27 record and was a first ballot selection to the Ohio Athletics Hall of Fame in 2003.

 

Gardner became the fourth NCAA wrestling individual national champion when he beat No. 1 ranked Hardell Moore of Oklahoma State by a 7-1 decision to become the 1998 NCAA 158-lb. National Champion.

 

That season, Gardner went 32-1 and maintained a top 10 national ranking throughout the season and defeated the top two seeds in his 5-0 run at the NCAA Tournament. His win helped Ohio to a ninth-place team finish in the NCAA that season. Finishing seventh as a junior in the 1997 NCAA Championships, Gardner was a two-time All-American and three-time NCAA qualifier with an at-large selection as a sophomore after finishing as the runner-up in the 1995 MAC Championship.

 

Gardner won the 158-lb. MAC Championship in both his junior and senior seasons, and was named MAC Wrestler of the Year and MAC Tournament Outstanding Wrestler in both seasons.  As a freshman, he finished third in the MAC.

 

Gardner earned his degree in 1998 in business information systems and currently resides in West Palm Beach, Fla., with his wife, Suzette, and sons Ethan and Hayden.

 

Antonio Gates – Kent State (men’s basketball):

Antonio Gates played two seasons as a power forward on the Kent State men’s basketball team and finished with a record of 52-15 in two seasons with the Golden Flashes. Gates guided Kent State to their second consecutive MAC Tournament title and earned berths in the 2002 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament.

 

During the NCAA Tournament, Gates’ performances helped Kent State reach the Elite Eight as a 10-seed by upsetting 7-seed Oklahoma State, 2-seed Alabama and 3-seed Pittsburgh. Gates helped Kent State capture its first regular season MAC Championship in school history after a 24-5 overall record with a 17-1 record in the MAC.

 

Gates earned Honorable Mention All-American honors from the Associated Press his senior season after averaging 20.6 ppg and 7.7 rpg. Gates was a two-time All-MAC selection & ranks 16th in school history with 1,216 points. His jersey number, 44, was retired on Feb. 27, 2010, making him just the fourth Golden Flash to receive the honor.

 

Following his career at Kent State, Gates turned his athletic ability into a legendary tight end with the NFL’s San Diego Chargers. Gates holds the all-time NFL record for touchdowns by a tight end with 111 touchdowns. He is one of three tight ends to ever record more than 850 receptions (897), is the third tight end in NFL history to surpass 11,000 receiving yards.

 

Gates is an eight-time Pro Bowl selection, a five-time All-Pro selection, including three on the First Team, a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team (2000-2009), was named one of the San Diego Chargers’ 50 Greatest Players of All-Time. Gates is the Chargers’ all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns, and was voted by his teammates as the Chargers’ Offensive Player of the Year (2014) for the fourth time in his career.

 

Betsy Kuhle – Western Michigan (women’s tennis):

Betsy Kuhle led the Western Michigan women’s tennis program for 33 years as head coach from 1983-2015 and is the all-time winningest women’s tennis coach in the history of the MAC with 545 career wins.

 

Kuhle ranks second in the history of the NCAA Division I for wins in women’s tennis and is one of only two MAC women’s tennis coaches with 250-plus wins, next highest career mark is 276. Kuhle is one of only 15 MAC coaches across all sports (male & female) to reach 500 career wins, which ranks 10th all-time for career wins, third among females and is the longest tenured coach ever at Western Michigan.

 

Kuhle was named MAC Women’s Tennis Coach of the Year eight times during her coaching career, won 11 MAC regular season championships, five MAC Tournament championships (tournament began in 1997) and guided Western Michigan to four NCAA Tournament appearances.

 

Kuhle coached three MAC Players of the Year (award began in 1998), five MAC Newcomer/Freshman of the Year recipients (award began in 1994), and five fellow Western Michigan Athletics Hall of Fame inductees.  She coached 68 of Western Michigan’s 73 All-MAC recognitions in school history and 60 Academic All-MAC selections. She also coached four players with 200-plus career wins & four players with over 100-career singles wins.

 

During her career, Kuhle had 11 undefeated MAC seasons, including a run of four-straight from 2005-2008 (33-0 during that span).  Western Michigan finished first or runner-up in the MAC in 24 of 33 seasons, had a 30-year streak of never finishing lower than third in the MAC (1983-2012), had seven seasons with 20-plus wins, including school record 23-win season and finished with a career winning percentage of .649 (545-295).

 

Kuhle was honored by the United States Tennis Association as a Blue Ribbon Tournament Director – involved with USTA summer events for 25-plus years.  She served on the ITA Midwest Regional committee form 1992-95 and 2000-03, and also served on ITA Board of Directors.  Kuhle was a 2006 inductee into the Western Michigan Athletics Hall of Fame.

 

Western Michigan was named ITA All-Academic Team for 20-straight years (1996-2015) (team cumulative GPA of at least 3.20). Since 1996, Broncos had 69 ITA Scholar Athletes (GPA of 3.50 or better).

 

A 1976 graduate of the University of Illinois with a bachelor’s degree in finance, Kuhle played No. 1 singles for the Illini. She received a master’s degree in business administration from Western Michigan in December of 1987. A native of Decatur, Ill., Kuhle captured the 1994 ITA 35-and-over title and ranked as high as fourth in the Western Tennis Association’s rankings.

 

Dan Majerle – Central Michigan (men’s basketball):

Dan Majerle was a three-time All-MAC First Team selection (1986-88), the only player in Central Michigan men’s basketball program history and led Central Michigan to the 1987 MAC Championship and Conference Tournament Championship, earning MVP honors.

 

Majerle was named to the All-MAC Tournament team in 1987 and 1988 and went on to win a gold medal at the 1994 World Championships and a bronze medal at the 1988 Olympic Games.

 

Majerle is Central Michigan’s second all-time career scorer with 2,055 points, second in scoring average (21.8 ppg), third in steals (171), fifth in rebounds (834) and blocks (95) and ninth in field goal percentage (53.6%). His 759 points in 1987-88 is a single-season program record, and he still holds three of the top eight season scoring averages in Central Michigan history. He tallied the fourth-most rebounds in a season with 346 in 1987-88. Majerle ranks 11th in career scoring in MAC history and his scoring total of 759 points is eighth in the Conference record books.

 

Majerle was drafted in the first round, 14th overall, by the Phoenix Suns in the 1988 NBA Draft and went on to play 14 seasons in the NBA with Phoenix, Cleveland and Miami. Majerle was a three-time NBA All-Star and a two-time All-Defensive Second Team selection. He finished his NBA career with 10,925 points, 4,265 rebounds and 2,755 assists and was inducted into the Phoenix Suns ‘Ring of Honor’ and had his No. 9 jersey retired.

 

The Suns have named the Dan Majerle Hustle Award in his honor. Was named the USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year in 1988 and was inducted in the Central Michigan Athletics Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.  Majerle continues to make an impact on college basketball, leading Grand Canyon to the Division I level.

 

Ron Oestrike – Eastern Michigan (baseball):

A 1954 Eastern Michigan graduate, Ron Oestrike was the University’s head baseball coach for 23 years (1965-87), directing the baseball program to unprecedented heights and leading the team to a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national championship in 1970, a runner-up spot in the 1976 NCAA College World Series, a fifth-place finish in the 1975 NCAA College World Series, four MAC championships, and five NCAA Regional appearances on the way to a 657-508-8 overall record.

 

Oestrike began his college career as a two-sport standout at Eastern Michigan, lettering in both baseball and football. After graduating 1954, Oestrike went on earn a master’s degree from the University of Michigan, serve a two-year tour with the U.S. Army and become a high-school football coach at Trenton High School. Oestrike returned to Eastern Michigan in 1963 and spent the next 24 years developing the Eagles baseball program into one of the very finest in the nation.

 

During his tenure, Oestrike coached six All-Americans and 22 All-MAC First Team members. The coaching legend was also tabbed as NCAA Regional Coach of the Year (’75, ’76, ’78, ’81) and MAC Coach of the Year (’75, ’76, ’78, ’82) four times each throughout his career. He developed numerous future Major League Baseball players including: Bryan Clutterbuck, Glenn Gulliver, Chris Hoiles, John Martin, Bob Owchinko, Ron Rightnowar, Pat Sheridan, Bob Welch and Mickey Weston along with long-time manager Terry Collins.

 

His 1970 team produced a record of 41-11 en route to a NAIA National Championship. As the program made the transition from NAIA to the NCAA, it wasted no time getting to the upper echelon of the NCAA.

 

In 1975, Eastern Michigan posted a 37-20-1 mark to capture a MAC championship before advancing to the College World Series for the first time in school history. One year later, Eastern Michigan built off the success to make a return trip Omaha. In arguably Eastern Michigan’s all-time best season, the team went 46-16 to collect another conference championship and advance to the finals of the College World Series, finishing runner-up to national champion Arizona.

 

Oestrike was singled out as the NCAA National Coach of the Year in 1976 by The Sporting Newsand went on to become the president of the American Baseball Coaches Association in 1985. He was inducted into the E-Club Athletics Hall of Fame in 1979 and was selected to the ABCA Hall of Fame in 1990.

 

Oestrike was preceded in death by Shirley, his wife of 55 years, and is survived by his five children, Jeffrey, Daniel, Elizabeth, Nancy and Matthew, and five grandchildren.

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