Six inducted into UTC's Althetics Hall of Fame
A basketball legend from the Mocs’ NCAA Sweet 16 team, a three-time Southern Conference Runner of the Year, a football coach who led his teams to three consecutive SoCon championships, a top-five football receiver from over 35 years ago, and the top two volleyball players in the program’s history make up The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Athletics Hall of Fame Induction Class of 2005.
Johnny Taylor, men’s basketball; Nic Crider, cross country; head football coach Joe Morrison; Rocky Turner, football and Rachel Evans and Heather Gibson, volleyball were inducted into UTC's Athletics Hall of Fame at a ceremony held recently.
“Our Hall of Fame committee has the tremendous task of selecting our all-time greatest student-athletes and sports figures,” UTC Director of Athletics Steve Sloan said. “This year, they have done an exceptional job of inducting a well-rounded, well-deserving group. These are people which nearly all Mocs fans are familiar, and it will be an experience that the honorees will always remember.”
Taylor was the SoCon Men’s Basketball Player of the Year in 1997 after leading the Mocs to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 in the program’s most successful Division I season ever.
A Chattanooga native, Taylor led UTC to the 1997 SoCon Tournament Championship, which earned the squad an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. The Mocs became the darlings of the NCAAs after upsetting higher seeds Georgia and Illinois to advance to the Sweet 16, the program’s farthest advancement in the tournament.
Taylor’s career scoring average of 17.3 points per game from 1995 to 1997 ranks fourth on the school’s all-time list, and his career point total of 1,070 stands 11th. He is the only First-Round National Basketball Association Draft Choice in school history, going to the Orlando Magic with the 17th overall selection. The two-time All-SoCon performer also played professionally with the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and continues to excel in his professional career overseas.
Crider set the standard for what is now a dominating cross country and track and field program at the University. Likely the most decorated male athlete in the track program’s history, Crider put together an unbelievable career of running championships, awards, honors, records and fast times.
Crider won the Southern Conference Cross Country Individual Championship in 1996, 1997 and 1998 and was named SoCon Men’s Runner of the Year each time. He led the men’s team to its first NCAA Cross Country Championship appearance in 1998.
In addition to his cross country achievements, he was accomplished on the track as well, at the distance and middle distance races. A two-time SoCon Men’s Indoor Athlete of the Year, he added seven Southern Conference titles during his track seasons, including championships for the Indoor 800 meters, 3,000 meters, 5,000 meters and mile run and the Outdoor 1,500.
Morrison ushered the UTC football program into the Southern Conference era in 1978 and promptly won three consecutive SoCon Co-Championships. The late Morrison served as the University’s head football coach from 1973 to 1979. He guided the Mocs to SoCon titles in 1977, 1978 and 1979. Elected SoCon Coach of the Year in 1977 and 1979, he compiled a 44-29-4 coaching record in seven seasons at UTC, including a 9-1-1 mark in 1977.
Along with Scrappy Moore, Morrison was voted the coach on the Chattanooga Times Free Press UC/UTC All-Century Football Team in 2003. He left UTC to become the head coach at the University of New Mexico and went on to be the head coach at the University of South Carolina as well.
A graduate of the University of Cincinnati, Morrison played for 14 years in the National Football League for the New York Giants where he competed in four league championship games.
Turner was an outstanding football receiver for the University’s football team in an era when passing the football was a distant second in offensive options. He currently ranks fourth in the school’s career record books in all-time receptions with 199 and fifth in all-time receiving yards with 1,864. He was a member of the 1968 Mocs squad which finished 9-1 and earned a final ranking of No. 3 nationally.
Turner was a 10th Round Draft Choice by the New York Jets of the National Football League and played for the Jets from 1972 to 1974. Named to the Chattanooga Times Free Press UC/UTC All-Century Football Team in 2003, he is currently enjoying a successful career as a pediatric dentist.
Evans was UTC’s most successful volleyball player during the program’s most successful period. She led the Lady Mocs to three straight Southern Conference Tournament Championships and three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances in 1996, 1997 and 1998. UTC won an astounding 158 matches during her career.
A dominating hitter and front-line player, the six-foot Evans was the SoCon Freshman of the Year in 1995 and the league’s Player of the Year in 1997. The Canada native was a two-time All-SoCon performer and was voted SoCon Tournament Most Valuable Player in 1997 and 1998.
Evans remains as the school’s all-time kills leader with 2,068. She ranks second in career total attacks, solo blocks, total blocks and service aces and is the single-season record-holder for kills, games played and kills per game. She ranked as high as No. 5 nationally in kills during the 1997 season.
Gibson is widely considered the first blue-chip volleyball player to play for UTC. Making her mark as a blocker, Gibson still owns the school’s career records for total blocks with 478 and solo blocks with 206. She ranks third in all-time block assists with 272, is fifth in career service aces and sixth in total attacks.
In the season record books, she still holds school marks for total blocks, block solos, block assists and blocks per game. The California native was the team leader in solo blocks and blocks per game in all four years of her career. Gibson was selected to the 1991 Southern Conference All-Tournament Team in 1991.
Evans and Gibson are the first two volleyball players to be inducted into the UTC Athletics Hall of Fame.
Women’s basketball senior Katasha Brown is the recipient of the Scrappy Moore Jr. Award as the student-athlete who best personifies the Athletic Department’s motto of Success with Integrity through Academic Achievement and Community Service.
Brown, a senior from Tazewell, Tenn., was the Preseason SoCon Player of the Year. She set the school’s all-time three-point field goal record this season and currently ranks fifth on the UTC career scoring list. Brown is a key member of a senior class which has put together a remarkable 103-16 over the last four years.
Bob Maffett is the recipient of the Gordon L. Davenport Award for an individual who has shown outstanding commitment to UTC Athletics, and Doug May is the recipient of the Joe Morrison Award for a UTC constituent who has achieved notable life accomplishments.
March 3, 2006