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WKU to induct 16 great Hilltopper squads in inaugural class of Athletic Hall of Fame Teams

The Western Kentucky University Alumni W-Club announced Thursday the 16 great athletic squads that will make up the multi-year inaugural class of the WKU Athletic Hall of Fame Teams.

The W-Club expanded the Athletic Hall of Fame last year to induct great teams, not just individuals.

Recognition of the 16 teams considered as the “Inaugural Class” began in November when the 2002 and 1952 football teams were honored on campus.

Western Kentucky’s Jim McDaniels jumps against Artis Gilmore of Jacksonville during the 1971 NCAA Tournament. The Hilltoppers advanced to the NCAA Final Four. (WKU photo)

The W-Club Board of Directors elected to select multiple teams to be honored as the Inaugural Class when faced with the daunting task of recognizing the long list of great teams in the tradition-rich history of athletics on The Hill. As a result, the 16 teams listed below will comprise the first class.

“I am so very proud of the rich athletic tradition at WKU,” W-Club Board Chairman Bryan Baysinger said. “Our history dictates and deserves a large Inaugural Class. The W-Club looks forward to honoring these teams and the others that will follow in decades to come.”

The 14 additional members of the class will recognized on campus three or four squads at a time over the next four years. The order and dates of the recognition celebrations are yet to be determined.

The complete 16-team Inaugural Class includes the following great Hilltopper and Lady Topper teams (listed alphabetically by sport):

1980 — 47-13-1 overall (most wins in school history); NCAA South Region runner-up; Ohio Valley Conference regular season and tournament champion; ranked 18th in the final Collegiate Baseball poll

Men’s Basketball
1941-42 — 29-5 overall; NIT national runner-up; Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association champion; Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic (KIAC) champion

1947-48 — 28-2 overall; NIT 3rd place; KIAC champion; best record in the nation

1953-54 — 29-3 overall; NIT 4th place; OVC champion; ranked 6th (UPI) and 8th (AP) in the final polls

1965-66 — 25-3 overall; NCAA Sweet 16; OVC regular-season and conference champion; ranked 10th in final AP poll

1966-67 — 23-3 overall; NCAA Tournament; OVC regular-season and tournament champion; ranked 6th (AP) and 7th (UPI) in the final polls

1970-71 — 24-6 overall; NCAA Final Four (3rd place); NCAA Mideast Region champion; OVC champion; ranked 7th by both AP and UPI in the final polls

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Women’s Basketball
1984-85 — 28-6 overall; NCAA Final Four (semi-finalist); NCAA Mideast Region champion; ranked 14th in the final AP poll

1985-86 — 32-4 overall (most wins in school history); NCAA Final Four (semi-finalist); NCAA East Region champion; Sun Belt Conference (SBC) regular season and tournament champion; ranked 3rd (USA Today Coaches) and 5th (AP) in the final polls

1991-92 — 27-8 overall; NCAA Final Four (runner-up); NCAA Mideast Region champion; SBC tournament champion and regular-season co-champion; ranked 3rd (USA Today Coaches) and 15th (AP) in the final polls

Men’s Cross Country
1974 — NCAA National runner-up; NCAA District III champion; OVC champion; undefeated heading into national championship meet

1952 — 9-1 overall; Refrigerator Bowl and OVC champion; 1st Hilltopper team earn a bowl bid

1963 — 10-0-1 overall; Tangerine Bowl and OVC champion; only undefeated team in WKU football history

1973 — 12-1 overall; NCAA Division II national runner-up; Grantland Rice Bowl and OVC champion

1975 — 11-2 overall; NCAA Division II national runner-up; Grantland Rice Bowl and OVC champion

2002 — 12-3 overall; NCAA Division I-AA national champion; Gateway Football Conference co-champion; ranked #1 in the nation in the final I-AA poll

From Western Kentucky University

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