USF proud to honor first Hall of Fame class
USF's athletic department, so often known for its relative infancy, took a night to celebrate its history Thursday, inducting the first class to its Hall of Fame at the Pepin Hospitality Centre in Tampa.
"It's a great way to recognize that our university does have a history, and a history we can be proud of," said Michelle Scarborough Julian, a two-time national champion in rifle, a 1990 USF graduate and part of the Bulls' inaugural Hall of Fame class.
It was the rare USF event that could have both football coach Jim Leavitt and men's basketball coach Stan Heath in attendance, with neither as the main attraction. Heath joked that he'd like an extra year of eligibility for former Bulls great Charlie Bradley, perhaps the best-known of Thursday's honorees.
Both Bradley and women's basketball standout Wanda Guyton have their jerseys retired in the Sun Dome, so their inclusion in a USF Hall of Fame was no surprise. It was for Julian, who made the trip from her native South Dakota to Tampa, just as she did 23 years ago.
The main ballroom in the Pepin Centre was filled with Bulls supporters who paid $125 each to be a part of USF athletics history. On a night when the Bulls showed they have been around long enough to crown their own legends, they also paused in awareness that some of the most beloved could not be there.
That included Richard "Dick" Bowers, who was USF's athletic director from 1966-82, guiding the athletic program through its first years, establishing 13 teams, helping create the Sun Belt Conference and build the Sun Dome. Bowers died in 2007, so his wife of 48 years, Madge, and son Rick accepted the honor in his behalf, the latter overwhelmed by emotion and only able to say a few proud words of gratitude.
And for the members of USF's 1984-85 women's swimming team, that included their coach, the late Bill Mann, who pushed a team of just 10 swimmers to a Division II national championship. Nearly all came back Thursday for a 25-year reunion of sorts, and swimmer Nancy Bercaw, who spoke for the team, joked that she was allotted 3-4 minutes to speak for the team, and planned to time her speech to 3 minutes, 31 seconds, matching the national record set by USF's 400 free relay that memorable season.
"You can start your watches now," she said, impressively finishing 3:25 later.
Bradley, who remains the top career scorer in USF men's basketball history, had the last speech of the night, and the shortest of the inductees in attendance.
"I just want to say thank you," Bradley said. "I want to thank my mom for instilling some good qualities in me. ... This is a great honor, and I never imagined this. I came to USF to play basketball, to have some fun. Hopefully now I can instill some qualities in some kids, and that's what I'm trying to do. I just want to say thank you."
For video tributes to each of USF's first inductees, check out GoUSFbulls.com -- Bright House Sports Network did the interviews for each clip.