The University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and it will also host the 48th annual UM Sports Hall of Fame Banquet on Thursday night. The dinner, which will be held at Jungle Island, will include the induction of seven former student-athletes and a former coach into the UM Sports Hall of Fame: basketball players Will Allen and Tamara James, tennis player Megan Bradley, swimming coach Charlie Hodgson, baseball player Jon Jay and football players Joaquin Gonzalez, Willis McGahee and Kellen Winslow Jr.
Executive Director John Routh discussed the qualifications required to get into the UM Sports Hall of Fame. Since so many players leave school early, graduating from Miami is not a requirement. Athletes must wait 10 years before they are eligible to be inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame so that the voting committee can truly analyze the athletes’ bodies of work.
“You want a little clarity of someone’s career,” Routh said. “A lot of times, male and female athletes come out and people think, ‘Wow, they’re the greatest thing ever.’ But sometimes, you need to take a step back and say, ‘Alright, let’s compare them with other people.’”
Between seven and 10 inductees are chosen each year by a secret committee. Although anyone can nominate a former student-athlete or coach to be in the Sports Hall of Fame, only the secret committee, which is largely made up of Hall of Fame members, votes on the candidates.
“The president [of the UM Sports Hall of Fame] picks the selection committee chairman; only he knows who that person is,” Routh said. “The selection chairman picks the committee members, so even the president doesn’t know who’s on the committee until they meet in the summer to decide. That way, people can’t pressure someone to ‘help get my buddy in.’”
The Tom Kearns University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame building is located between the Hecht Athletic Center and the track and field facility. The museum is free to the public and open from noon to 5 p.m. on weekdays. Although it is filled to the brim with artifacts, the Sports Hall of Fame is always open to collecting more pieces of memorabilia – and so is Routh.
“Last year, Duke Johnson broke the record for most rushing yards. We have his jersey, helmet and shoes from the game,” Routh said. “The other night, [baseball] Coach Jim Morris won his 1,500th career game. We got a ball from the game signed by Coach Morris. We’re constantly adding to the collection.”
“You never know what you have in a closet, so don’t throw anything away,” Routh said.
Feature photo courtesy Pixabay user PDPics.