Sept. 25, 2003
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Six outstanding individuals will be inducted into the University of Louisville Athletic Hall of Fame on Friday, Nov. 14 at the Brown and Williamson Club in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
The list includes Nell Knox-Blackford, U of L's career scoring leader in women's basketball; Denny Crum, a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame who won 675 games as U of L's men's basketball coach for 30 seasons; Pervis Ellison, an All-America center for the Cards who is the only player in U of L history to total both 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds; Tom Jackson, an All-America linebacker at U of L and currently a football analyst for ESPN; Laurie Maxwell-Londot, an All-America volleyball player who is the Cardinals' all-time leader in kills and hitting percentage; and Ralph Wright, Sr., who formed and coached U of L's first swimming team in 1948.
The event will begin with a reception at 6:30 p.m., dinner at 7:30 p.m. and the induction ceremony to follow. Tickets are $45 per person. Table purchases and information on other levels of support for the event may be obtained by contacting the U of L special events office at (502) 852-1974.
The inductees will also be recognized at the Cardinals' Nov. 15 home football game against Memphis. Previously organized by the U of L Alumni Association, this is the first year that the Athletic Hall of Fame has come under the auspices of the Cardinals' athletic department with revamped criteria for inclusion.
"This is an exceptional group of individuals who each made outstanding contributions to Cardinal Athletics," said U of L Director of Athletics Tom Jurich. "We're proud of the new direction we have taken with our Athletic Hall of Fame and the strict criteria we've established to honor our truly exceptional athletes and coaches who have made impressive contributions during their careers at U of L."
Nell Knox-Blackford finished her four-year career at U of L (1989-93) as the Cardinals' all-time leading scorer in women's basketball with 1,899 points. She earned first team All-Metro Conference honors as a senior when she averaged 20.3 points per game, totalling a school-record 630 points. She was also named to the Metro Conference All-Tournament team in 1993 after helping the Lady Cards win the regular season and tournament championships and reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament. She poured in a career-high 36 points against Tulane her senior year, the third highest single-game total ever at U of L. She also excelled at the defensive end of the court, blocking 131 shots in her career, ranking her second all-time for the Cardinals.
Denny Crum directed Louisville to the 1980 and the 1986 NCAA Championships, ranking him as one of only 10 coaches in NCAA history to win two or more titles. Six times he guided the Cardinals into the NCAA Final Four, including four times in the decade of the '80s. Only three coaches all-time coached more Final Four teams than Crum. He directed the Cardinals to 23 NCAA Tournament appearances. The Cardinals captured or shared 12 Metro Conference regular season titles and 11 post-season tournament championships under Crum's guidance. Crum engineered U of L to 20 or more victories in 21 of his 30 seasons. The man admirably labeled "Cool Hand Luke" by former commentator Al McGuire was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame on May 9, 1994.
The all-time shot blocker at U of L and 18th in NCAA history with 374 career rejections, Pervis Ellison ended his playing career with the Cardinals as the No. 2 all-time scorer. In 1986, he helped the Cardinals to win their second NCAA Championship title and was the first freshman since 1944 to be named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. A consensus All-American as a senior in 1989, "Never Nervous Pervis" became the first Cardinal to be chosen as the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. He went on to play 11 seasons in the NBA with Sacramento, Washington, Boston and Seattle. His jersey number 42 is one of only four retired by U of L.
Tom Jackson spent three seasons as a linebacker for the Cardinals, leading the team in tackles all three campaigns and earning Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year honors in 1970 and 1972. Following his collegiate career, Jackson was selected in the fourth round of the 1973 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. For the next 14 seasons, Jackson would play 191 career games, the second most all-time for the Broncos. Voted to the Broncos' Ring of Fame in 1992, Jackson earned three trips to the Pro Bowl and was twice named first-team All-Pro. After his retirement from pro football in 1986, Jackson has gone on to an equally successful stint as a reporter and co-host of ESPN's award-winning NFL GameDay and Primetime shows every autumn Sunday.
Laurie Maxwell-Londot was the University of Louisville's first volleyball All-American in 1991. The left-handed middle blocker made her presence known quickly at U of L, earning 1988 Metro Conference Freshman of the Year honors. As a junior, the Metro Conference Player of the Year led the Cardinals to a league title in 1990 as Tournament MVP as U of L gained its first NCAA Tournament appearance in eight years. In 1991, she led the Cardinals to a repeat conference championship and another automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. She won a gold medal in the 1991 Olympic Festival Games and was a three time GTE Academic All-American. She is still the career leader in kills with 1,545, hitting percentage .364, block solos with 183 and total blocks with 538.
Ralph Wright formed and coached the Cardinals' first aquatic team in 1948. At the age of 15, he became one of only 14 swimmers to swim at the dedication of the Golden Gate Bridge in 1937. After serving in the Marine Corps during WWII, Wright broke Olympic and World 200-breast records in 1946 while swimming at the Hawaii University Aquatic Club. Wright founded the American Swim Coaches Association and served on its board for many years. In addition to his work at U of L, Wright also had successful coaching stints at Lakeside and Plantation Swim Clubs in Louisville. He died at the age of 45 in 1966, just before one of his swimmers went on to win an Olympic medal (Suzie Shields, bronze in 100 fly, 1968).