CONTACT – Doug Ireland, 318-288-6388, DougIreland@LaSportsHall.com
NATCHITOCHES – Outdoorsman Phil Robertson, recognized internationally as the Duck Commander, and former LSU football coach Nick Saban, who won 75 percent of his games and the 2003 national championship in five seasons with the Tigers, join eight-time Mr. Olympia world bodybuilding champion Ronnie Coleman and another global sports figure, Sweet Lou Dunbar of the Harlem Globetrotters, among a star-studded group of eight 2020 competitive ballot inductees chosen for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.
The LSHOF Class of 2020 also includes a pair of multiple-year Pro Bowl NFL standouts, New Orleans Saints receiver Joe Horn and Chicago Bears cornerback Charles “Peanut” Tillman, a star at UL Lafayette, along with two extraordinary basketball players: New Orleans native Kerry Kittles, a two-time All-America guard at Villanova who averaged 14 points in an eight-year NBA career, and Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters legend Angela Turner, who helped her teams to four straight national championship game appearances including wins in 1981 and 1982.
Robertson, a Vivian native, was Louisiana Tech’s starting quarterback ahead of a young Terry Bradshaw until he gave up football to focus on his love of hunting and fishing. His passion, personality and business acumen ultimately led to a multi-million dollar business in West Monroe and inspired the wildly successful “Duck Dynasty” reality TV show. Robertson becomes only the third outdoorsman elected to the Hall from the competitors’ ballot, joining Grits Gresham (1989) and BassMasters Classic champion Jack Hains (2018).
Saban went 48-16 from 2000-04 at LSU before jumping to the NFL for two seasons as head coach in Miami, then returning to college football at Alabama, where he has captured five more national championships since 2009. His Tigers won Southeastern Conference championships in 2001 and 2003, reigning as SEC West Division champs from 2001-03, and he won his first national and SEC coach of the year awards while guiding LSU to the 2003 BCS national crown. He is the first sitting college coach elected to the Hall since Grambling’s Eddie Robinson (1985).
North Louisiana natives Coleman (Bastrop) and Dunbar (Minden), like Robertson, achieved worldwide celebrity status in their sports. Coleman, a linebacker for some of Robinson’s 1980s Grambling teams, won a record 26 International Association of Bodybuilders professional titles. Dunbar, the state’s Mr. Basketball at Webster High School, averaged 22 points while starring for the University of Houston before embarking on a 27-year playing career and 43 ongoing years of involvement with the Globetrotters.
Horn’s unlikely and colorful 12-season NFL career included four Pro Bowl appearances, all with in his seven seasons with the Saints (2000-06), when he set several franchise season and career receiving records, including career touchdown catches (50). A second-round 2003 NFL Draft pick after being a four-year starter for the Ragin’ Cajuns, Tillman was a two-time Pro Bowler who had 38 career interceptions and forced 44 fumbles as he played 13 pro seasons, all but a few games with his hometown team, the Bears, from 2003-14.
After averaging 22 points while leading St. Augustine to the 1992 Class 5A state championship, Kittles became a record-shattering All-American at Villanova and the No. 8 pick (Brooklyn Nets) in the 1996 NBA Draft, leading to a successful pro career. At tiny Shady Grove High School in rural Bienville Parish, Turner was a three-time state Most Valuable Player and two-time prep All-American before her dynamic all-around game helped the Lady Techsters go 143-10 in her incredible four-year (1979-82) college career.
Turner will join former Techster teammates Pam Kelly, Janice Lawrence and Kim Mulkey, and their co-head coaches Leon Barmore and Sonja Hogg, in the Hall of Fame next summer.
Saban will be the eighth former LSU head football coach enshrined, joining Gaynell Tinsley (1959), Bernie Moore (1963), Biff Jones (1966), Jerry Stovall (1981), Charlie McClendon (1982), Paul Dietzel (1988) and Les Miles (2019).
Horn will become the 17th former Saints standout, coach (Jim Mora) or administrator (Tom Benson, Jim Finks) inducted, and will be only the third player from this century so far to join the LSHOF ranks, along with running back Deuce McAllister and Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive tackle Willie Roaf.
Coleman is the first bodybuilder elected to the Hall.
The Class of 2020 will be enshrined Saturday, June 27, in Natchitoches to culminate the 61st Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Celebration June 25-27.
The 2020 Induction Class will be showcased in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Museum, operated by the Louisiana State Museum system in a partnership with the Louisiana Sports Writers Association. The striking two-story, 27,500-square foot structure faces Cane River Lake in the National Historic Landmark District of Natchitoches and has garnered worldwide architectural acclaim and rave reviews for its contents since its grand opening during the 2013 Hall of Fame induction weekend.
A 35-member Louisiana Sports Writers Association committee selected the 2020 inductees. The panel considered a record 150 nominees from 31 different sport categories on a 33-page ballot, said Hall of Fame chairman Doug Ireland.
The eight new competitive ballot inductees will raise the total of Hall of Fame members to 350 competitors honored since the first induction class — baseball’s Mel Ott, world champion boxer Tony Canzoneri and LSU football great Gaynell Tinsley — were enshrined in 1959 after their election a year earlier.
Also to be spotlighted next summer will be four other Hall of Fame inductees, the winner of the 2019 Dave Dixon Louisiana Sports Leadership Award, the recipients of the 2019 Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism presented by the LSWA, and a newly-initiated Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Ambassador Award. Those inductees from contributor ballots will be announced later this year.
The complete 12-person Class of 2020 will swell the membership in the Hall of Fame to 445 men and women, including 358 from the competitors’ ballot.
The Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame includes 24 Pro Football Hall of Fame members, 18 Olympic medalists including 11 gold medal winners, 11 members of the Basketball Hall of Fame, seven of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players, seven National Baseball Hall of Fame inductees, 37 College Football Hall of Fame members, nine National High School Hall of Fame enshrinees, jockeys with a combined 16 Triple Crown victories, six world boxing champions, seven Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame members, seven College Baseball Hall of Fame inductees, 10 College Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinees, four NBA Finals MVPs, four winners of major professional golf championships, five National Museum of (Thoroughbred) Racing and Hall of Fame inductees and two Super Bowl MVPs.
Just this summer, LSHOF members Kevin Mawae (inducted in 2013), Ed Reed (2017) and Johnny Robinson (1984) were enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, two weeks after Lee Smith (2004) joined the Baseball Hall in Cooperstown and a month before 2010 LSHOF inductee Teresa Weatherspoon’s Sept. 6 entrance in the Basketball Hall in Springfield, Mass.
Biographical information on all 433 current Hall of Fame members is available at the LaSportsHall.com website, with a steady stream of info available at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Facebook page and the @LaSportsHall twitter account.
Saban carved his prominent place in state sports history with the 2003 BCS national title win by his LSU squad over Oklahoma in the Superdome. His Tigers compiled a 48-16 (28-12 SEC) record in Baton Rouge, part of his 232-63-1 mark as a college head coach entering 2019.
Saban is the first coach to win a national title with two different FBS schools since the inception of the Associated Press rankings in 1936. Saban and Bear Bryant are the only coaches to win SEC crowns at different schools. His collection of national championships equals the record set by Bryant.
Among Saban’s coaching tree, former LSU assistants Jimbo Fisher, Will Muschamp and Kirby Smart are current SEC head coaches and Derek Dooley was coach at Tennessee. He is a 2013 inductee in the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.
Robertson, recognized on sight around the world thanks to his iconic long, rugged beard, began his Duck Commander business in a dilapidated shed, where he spent 25 years making duck calls from Louisiana cedar trees. Robertson built his first call from a piece of walnut in 1972.
From its humble beginnings, the Duck Commander brand has become a household name in quality duck calls and has branched off to make an array of other products, from DVDs, Duck Commander shotguns to Cajun-style marinade to television shows. The Robertson family had a wildly successful venture into the entertainment industry through their reality show “Duck Dynasty” on the A&E Network.
After graduating cum laude in accounting from Grambling, and taking a position in law enforcement, Coleman quickly emerged as one of America’s top professional bodybuilders. He shares the record of eight straight wins (1998-2005) as Mr. Olympia, and holds the record for most overall wins as an International Federation of Bodybuilders professional with 26 career victories, breaking the previous mark of 24 in Moscow in 2004.
A middle linebacker at Grambling, Coleman worked as a police officer in Arlington, Texas, and began training in bodybuilding. His first major title was the heavyweight crown in the 1991 World Amateur Championships, earning the title Mr. Universe. The 5-11, 297-pounder’s pro resume includes wins in Canada, Europe, Russia and New Zealand in addition to world championship events and Mr. Olympia competitions. He last competed in 2009 and is the subject of the 2018 Netflix documentary “Ronnie Coleman, the King.”
Dunbar, a Louisiana prep star at Minden’s Webster High School who was named the state’s “Mr. Basketball,” joining the likes of Willis Reed, Bob Pettit and Elvin Hayes, became one of the sport’s top entertainers with the famed Harlem Globetrotters following a pioneering college career at the University of Houston. He averaged 26 points and 12 rebounds a game as a senior at Webster and poured in 49 points in the state championship game.
The versatile 6-foot-10 Dunbar emerged as a national figure at UH from 1972-75, averaging 22.3 points and 7.7 rebounds for his career while becoming one of the first big men to play point guard at a major university. Shooting 48 percent while also playing in the frontcourt, Dunbar was inducted into the school’s Hall of Honor in 2007.
A fourth-round NBA Draft pick of the Philadelphia 76ers in 1975, he never played in the NBA and after a year in Europe was “discovered” by a Globetrotters scout while playing for the Houston Rockets in a summer league game. One of the most revered players in Globetrotters’ history, he’s been with the team for more than four decades, 27 as a player, most of those in the “clown prince” role. Dunbar has played in front of more than 10 million fans on six continents. He has also been honored as one of the “Legends of Basketball” by the National Basketball Retired Players Association.
A wiry and flashy wideout, Horn was a Saints fan favorite and a record-breaker from 2000-06, helping them to the NFC South title and a playoff berth in his first season. In seven years with the Saints, Horn came close to breaking Eric Martin’s career club records in receptions and receiving yards with 523 catches for 7,622 yards — coming up just nine catches and 232 yards short.
Horn set a club record with 11 receiving TDs in 2004, and had a record four in a Dec. 21, 2004 game with the New York Giants. Horn had a team-record 27 100-yard games in his seven-year stint with the Saints and also set club receiving marks for a single season with 94 catches and 1,399 yards — both in 2004.
He averaged a remarkable 88 catches, 1,306 yards and eight TDs over a three-year stretch from 2000-02, making the Pro Bowl each time. Horn, who didn’t play football for two years after his two seasons in junior college, watched a Jerry Rice instructional video while working at a restaurant and eventually caught on in the Canadian Football League before being drafted by Kansas City. He finished a 12-year NFL career in 2007 with 603 receptions, 8,744 yards and 58 TDs.
Following four seasons (1999-2002) starting at cornerback at UL Lafayette, Tillman was a second-round NFL Draft pick who played 13 seasons before injuries forced him to retire at the age of 34. He started all but four of his 168 NFL games and had 38 career interceptions for 675 yards, taking eight of those picks back for touchdowns.
The 35th overall selection in the 2003 draft had at least three interceptions in nine of his 13 seasons. The 6-foot-1, 196-pounder finished his career with 911 total tackles, notching a career-high 99 in 2011 when he was voted to play in the first of two consecutive Pro Bowls. He also forced 44 fumbles with 10 of them coming in 2012 when he was named an Associated Press first-team All-Pro. In 2003, he set the NFL single-game record by forcing four fumbles against Tennessee on his way to being the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and the Sports Illustrated Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Tillman, who broke up 141 passes in his career, had 16 in 2011 — one fewer than his personal-best of 17 that he had in 2008.
His Bears won the NFC title over the Saints in 2006 and played in Super Bowl XLI against 2019 LSHOF inductee Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts but lost 29-17.
Tillman won the 2013 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award — the league’s only award that recognizes excellence on and off the field with an emphasis on a player’s contributions to his community and to society in general.
In college, he was a four-year starter who had 12 interceptions, seven fumble recoveries, three blocked punts and 284 tackles in a career that made him the eighth Ragin’ Cajun to have his jersey retired. A criminal justice graduate at UL Lafayette, he is now an FBI agent.
Kittles was a high-scoring 6-foot-6 guard at St Augustine, Villanova and in an eight-year NBA career from 1997-2005 (he missed the 2000-01 season with a knee injury) after being a first-round pick (No. 8 overall) of the then New Jersey Nets in 1996. As a pro, he played in 507 games with 455 starts and posted career averages of 14.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game in seven seasons with the Nets and one with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Kittles averaged in double figures in seven of his eight seasons with at least 12.5 points per game in each of them. After being a second-team All-Rookie pick in 1997 when he averaged 16.4 points and 3.9 rebounds, he had his best pro season statistically in 1998 with career-highs of 17.2 points and 4.7 rebounds. He also averaged 12.3 points and 3.6 rebounds in starting all 54 playoff games he played.
He remains the career scoring leader (2,243 points) for the storied Villanova program, where he averaged 18.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists in a four-year career (1993-96) while shooting 47.8 percent from the field in 122 games. Kittles was the Big East Player of the Year as a junior in 1995 when he averaged 21.4 points (shooting 52.4 percent from field), 6.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.2 steals.
A consensus second-team All-American in 1995 and a first-teamer in 1996 as a senior, Kittles was a rugged defender, leading the Big East in steals in 1994 with 87. He still ranks seventh all-time in Big East history in scoring (fifth when he graduated), fifth in field goals made (821), ninth in 3-point field-goal percentage (39.4) and ninth in steals (277).
Kittles led St. Aug to the 1991 state championship game as a junior, with the Purple Knights falling by one point before they brought home the title in his final prep contest the following year.
A four-year starter from 1978-82 and a prestigious Kodak All-American in 1982, Turner helped Louisiana Tech to four Final Fours, four national title game appearances and two national titles (1981 AIAW, 1982 NCAA). The 5-foot-8 forward was a key in an undefeated season in 1980-81 when the Lady Techsters went 34-0 and defeated Tennessee 79-59 in the title game, when she was named Final Four MVP. The following season as a senior, she led Tech to a 35-1 record and the NCAA national title as Tech defeated Cheyney State 76-62.
She helped the Lady Techsters set the Division I women’s basketball record with a 54-game winning streak during the 1980-81 and 1981-82 seasons. “A.T.” scored 2,262 career points, still ranking third all-time at Tech, and averaged double figures all four seasons. Her 817 points scored in 1979-80 still ranks as the second most in a single season in school history.
Turner ranks No. 2 in field goals made (1,021), No. 3 in scoring (2,262 points), No. 3 in steals (358), No. 6 in rebounds (1,073) and No. 9 in assists (466) in the storied history of the program. Known for her picture-pretty jump shot, she made the 20-member LSWA All-Century Team for college hoops chosen in 1999. Her No. 5 jersey is retired.
After graduating as valedictorian for her senior class at Shady Grove High School, Turner was named to the U.S. National Women’s U20 team in 1978, leading the team in scoring at the Pam American Games. She scored 3,780 points in high school.
The 2020 Induction Celebration will kick off Thursday, June 25, with a press conference and reception. The three-day festivities include two receptions, a free youth sports clinic, a bowling party, and a Friday night riverbank concert in Natchitoches. Tickets for the Induction Dinner and Ceremony, along with congratulatory advertising and sponsorship opportunities, will be available early in 2020 through the LaSportsHall.com website.
Anyone can receive quarterly e-mails about the 2020 Induction Celebration and other Hall of Fame news by signing up on the LaSportsHall.com website.
Adding to the 350 sports competitors currently enshrined, 19 winners of the Dave Dixon Louisiana Sports Leadership award and 64 recipients of the Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism, there are 433 current members of the Hall of Fame before next summer’s inductions.
The 2020 Induction Celebration weekend will be hosted by the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Foundation, the support organization for the Hall of Fame. The LSHOF Foundation was established as a 501 c 3 non-profit entity in 1975 and is governed by a statewide board of directors. For information on sponsorship opportunities, contact Foundation President/CEO Ronnie Rantz at 225-802-6040 or RonnieRantz@LaSportsHall.com. Standard and customized sponsorships are available