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Tom Benson named to Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame 2014 induction class

Posted Dec 29, 2013

Benson is part of an eight-member class

NATCHITOCHES –  New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owner/Chairman of the Board Tom Benson was named to the eight-member 2014 Induction Class to be enshrined June 21, 2014 in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.

Tulane and NFL standout Lionel Washington, Baton Rouge-Catholic High School cross country and track coach Pete Boudreaux, and Olympic gold medalist Venus Lacy, who helped Louisiana Tech win the 1988 women’s basketball national championship, are also in the Hall’s 2014 induction class. Trailblazing basketball coach Beryl Shipley, who guided the UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns to national prominence in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and legendary Cottonport football player, coach and official Richard “Moon” Ducote will be honored posthumously.

Their selection was announced late Saturday. They will be officially enshrined Saturday, June 21, in Natchitoches to culminate the 2014 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Celebration June 19-21.

The 2014 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 30-member Louisiana Sports Writers Association committee selected the 2014 inductees. The panel considered 114 nominees from 26 different sport categories on a 24-page ballot, said Hall of Fame chairman Doug Ireland.

Faneca, a two-time All-America offensive lineman at LSU in 1996-97, was chosen for nine straight Pro Bowls as a guard during 13 NFL seasons with Pittsburgh (helping the Steelers win Super Bowl XL), New York and Arizona.  Faneca started 201 of his 206 NFL games and earned spots on the Steelers’ 75th anniversary team in 2007, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s All-2000s Team.

Reynolds, a Bastrop native who played at Monroe’s Ouachita Christian High School, pitched for 13 major league seasons for Houston, Atlanta and Arizona, and played in the 2000 All-Star Game.  He won 114 games, 103 with Houston from 1992-2002, winning 16 games twice and going a career-best 19-8 in 1998.

Benson has been at the forefront of sports in New Orleans and Louisiana for nearly 30 years, since buying the Saints in 1985 and quickly transforming a moribund franchise into a playoff team, including the  Super Bowl XLIV triumph. In March 2012, he bought the NBA’s franchise in New Orleans and the Pelicans have emerged as one of the league’s most exciting young teams in 2013-14.

Washington, a cornerback at Tulane from 1979-82, had a productive 15-year NFL career with three teams (Cardinals, Raiders, Broncos), intercepting 37 passes.  He played in 204 games, starting 165, with a career-high eight pickoffs with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1985 and at least one interception in 13 of his 15 seasons. Washington, later an assistant coach with the NFL’s Green Bay Packers, is co-defensive coordinator at his alma mater.

New Orleans Saints

Boudreaux has coached 39 state championship teams and another 21 state runner-up squads in cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field. Sixteen of the state titles and 10 runner-up finishes have been in cross country. His track teams at Catholic have had the four best scores in Class 5A state meets, and the Bears’ cross country teams have the three best score posted in state championships.

Lacy is the career scoring leader (20 points per game) for the storied Lady Techsters. A center on Tech’s 1988 NCAA champions, she won the 1990 national Player of the Year award from the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and ended her career playing for the 1996 USA Olympic gold medalists then with two WNBA seasons in New York.

Shipley won 70 percent of his games in 16 seasons coaching at UL-Lafayette, guiding the Cajuns to six Top 20 rankings, the last two years in the major college polls. He was the first coach at a predominantly white state university in the Deep South to award scholarships to black student-athletes, a groundbreaking move during the 1960s. Shipley’s later teams were among the highest-scoring in the country.

Ducote, a football legend at Auburn and in the early days of pro football, was compared to the great Jim Thorpe by Chicago Bears owner and coach George Halas, and was later an assistant football coach and head basketball coach at LSU. An end, halfback and fullback at Auburn, he was also a sensational kicker, booting long field goals to beat Georgia (48 yards) and Vanderbilt (51 yards).  Iconic coach Pop Warner said he had never seen a better player.

The eight new inductees will raise the total of Hall of Fame members to 310 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.

The Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame includes 16 Pro Football Hall of Fame members, 18 Olympic medalists (10 gold medal winners), nine members of the Basketball Hall of Fame, seven of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players, six Baseball Hall of Fame inductees, 34 College Football Hall of Fame members, five National High School Hall of Fame enshrines, jockeys with a combined 12 Triple Crown victories, six world boxing champions, seven Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinees, seven College Baseball Hall of Fame inductees,  seven College Basketball Hall of Fame members, four NBA Finals MVPs and two Super Bowl MVPs. Biographical information on all current 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.

The 2014 Induction Celebration will kick off Thursday, June 19 with the press conference and reception. It includes three receptions, a youth sports clinic, and a Friday, June 20 celebrity pro-am golf scramble at Oak Wing Golf Course in Alexandria. Tickets for the Induction Dinner and Ceremonies, and golf entries, will go on sale this spring through the LaSportsHall.com website.

Also to be honored at the event will be two other Hall of Fame inductees, the winner of the 2014 Dave Dixon Louisiana Sports Leadership Award and the recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism presented by the LSWA. Those award recipients will be announced  in January.

Adding to the 302 sports competitors currently enshrined, 12 winners of the Dave Dixon Louisiana Sports Leadership award and 53 recipients of the Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism,  there are 367 current members of the Hall of Fame.

The 2014 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  Lisa Babin at 318-458-0166 or lisababin@LaSportsHall.com.  Standard and customized sponsorships are available.  

2014 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Class – Bio Capsules

TOM BENSON, sports administrator
Known for his ownership of the New Orleans Saints since 1985 which saved the NFL franchise from perhaps moving to Jacksonville, Fla., the New Orleans native has been at the forefront of sports in the Crescent City for nearly 30 years. Benson purchased the Saints from John Mecom and quickly hired Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Finks as general manager and Jim Mora as head coach, who two years later helped deliver the club’s first winning season and playoff appearance since its inception in 1967. He also presided over the team’s first division title (1991), first playoff victory (2000) and first NFL title (2009) after the Saints took a 31-17 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV on Feb. 7, 2010. He has also been instrumental in helping bring five Super Bowls to the city, including Super Bowl XLVII which was played on Feb. 5, 2013. He also owned and operated the New Orleans VooDoo of the Arena Football League from 2002-08 and in March 2012 surprised the entire region when he purchased the NBA’s New Orleans Hornets for $338 million. Benson and his wife, Gayle, are active philanthropically in New Orleans. He has been a member of numerous NFL committees as an owner, including a three stints as chairman of the powerful Finance Committee. A World War II veteran who served in the Navy, Benson was born in 1927 in New Orleans.

PETE BOUDREAUX, high school coach
Boudreaux has been head track coach at his alma mater, Catholic High-Baton Rouge, since 1968 and also served as athletic director through 2011. In the early 1970s, he added head cross country coach to his list of duties. His teams have won 39 state titles (13 outdoor, 10 indoor, 16 cross country through 2013). His teams also finished as the state runner-up 10 times at cross country, seven in outdoor track and four in indoor track. Boudreaux’s track teams have recorded the four highest (best) scores ever by a championship team in Class 5A track and field and the three lowest (best) scores recorded in 5A cross country. His 2010 track team scored a record 104 points to set the current mark, while the 2009 team had 101 points. The Bears’ 2009 cross country team had the low winning score of 33 points. Boudreaux’s 1991 squads became Louisiana’s first to sweep cross country, indoor track and outdoor track titles in the same school year. His 2008-09 and 2009-10 squads repeated that feat, becoming the first school to do it two years in a row. Boudreaux was inducted into the Louisiana High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2000 and served as president of the Louisiana High School Coaches Association in 1981. He has received state Coach of the Year honors 14 times and regional honors four times. In 2010, Boudreaux was voted the national high school coach of the year for boys track by USA Track & Field. He has also worked as an official at SEC and Big 12 track and field championships and at the Olympic Trials. In 2002, Boudreaux was co-meet director for the NCAA Championships. He graduated from Catholic High in 1959 and has spent his entire coaching career at his alma mater.

RICHARD “MOON” DUCOTE, football
A football legend at Auburn and in the early days of pro football, Ducote was a Cottonport native who later coached at LSU and Loyola and became a highly regarded football official. At Auburn from 1915-17, he played end, halfback and fullback and was a sensational kicker, making game-winning field goals of 48 and 51 yards to beat Georgia and Vanderbilt. In 1918, he provided all the scoring for the Great Lakes Cleveland Naval Reserves team to a 10-9 upset of Pop Warner’s mighty Pitt team, unbeaten for three years and the greatest collegiate team of the era. Warner said he had never seen a better player. A Cleveland sports writer wrote Ducote “simply battered the life out of the Pitt defense and ... must be rated as one of the greatest backs of all time.” Football legend George Halas compared him to Jim Thorpe and other greats of the early days of pro football in a 1971 letter. He served as an assistant football coach at LSU for two years and was head basketball coach for one season, later becoming athletic director at Loyola. He was on the officiating crew for the 1935 Rose Bowl game pitting Alabama against Stanford. He died in 1939.

ALAN FANECA, football
One of LSU’s all-time great offensive linemen from 1995-97, Faneca was a second-team All-American pick in 1996 and a first-teamer in 1997 when he was a finalist for the Outland Trophy as the nation’s top lineman. A guard who overcame epilepsy, he started his final 36 college games and allowed only one sack as a junior before declaring for the NFL draft. He was chosen in the first round with the 26th overall pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers and went on to play 10 years with them, two with the New York Jets and one with the Arizona Cardinals. He was voted to nine consecutive Pro Bowls (2001-09) and was a six-time Associated Press All-Pro first-team pick (2001-02, 2004-07). He started 201 of 206 games he appeared in and started all 16 games in his final nine seasons in the league. He played on the Steelers team that won Super Bowl XL and helped spring Willie Parker for a 75-yard TD run, the longest run in Super Bowl history, on the second play of the second half to give Pittsburgh a 14-3 lead over the Seattle Seahawks. He was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s All-2000s team and was chosen to the Steelers’ 75th anniversary all-time team in 2007. Faneca does extensive charitable work with the Epilepsy Foundation of America. Born 12-7-1976 in New Orleans.

VENUS LACY, women’s basketball
A star center for the Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters basketball team from 1988-1990, Lacy was twice named as the Player of the Year for both the American South Conference and state of Louisiana.  She played on the 1996 U.S. Olympic team that won a gold medal after starting at center on Tech’s 1988 national championship team, the last Techsters’ team to capture an NCAA title. Lacy was a 1990 Kodak All-American and was also named the national Player of the Year by the United States Basketball Writers Association. She is No. 1 in scoring average (20.0) in Tech history and is also is in the top five for career points (2,004), field goals made (793), field goals attempted (1,125) and blocked shots (164). She played in the old ABL, Europe and spent two seasons with the New York Liberty of the WNBA before retiring in 1998. Born 2-9-67 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

SHANE REYNOLDS, baseball
A Bastrop native who attended Ouachita Christian in Monroe and the University of Texas, Reynolds was one of the top pitchers in the National League and Houston Astros’ ace  in the mid- to late-1990s after being selected in the third round of the 1989 draft. He pitched 13 seasons in the majors and had a 114-96 career record with the Astros (1992-2002), with whom he earned multiple Opening Day starts, Atlanta Braves (2003) and Arizona Diamondbacks (2004). He was 103-86 with the Astros, making the 2000 All-Star game.  He led the NL in both 1998 and ’99 with 35 starts both of those seasons.  Reynolds won 10 or more games six times in his career, with his best season coming in 1998 when he was 19-8 with a 3.51 ERA and 209 strikeouts.  He also won 16 games in 1996 and ’99 and finished in the top 10 in strikeouts five times between 1994-99.  Reynolds could also handle the bat for a pitcher, posting a .141 career average with five homers. His work ethic was compared to Nolan Ryan by longtime Astros trainer Dr. Gene Coleman. Born 3/26/68 in Bastrop.

BERYL SHIPLEY, basketball coach
Shipley guided the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) to national basketball prominence and was the first coach at a predominantly white state college in the Deep South to give scholarships to black student-athletes.  He was the Ragin’ Cajuns’ coach from 1957-73 and his teams were 296-127 (.700).  He had only one losing season in 16 years. USL finished in the national Top 20 in each of his last six seasons - the first four in the college division polls, the last two in Division I.   He was the Gulf States Conference Coach of the Year four times and Coach of the Year in the Southland Conference once.  With stars like Hall of Fame member Bo Lamar, Roy Ebron and Marvin Winkler on his teams, USL went 19-5, 20-5, 16-10, 25-4 and 24-5 in his last five seasons.  The final two teams reached were rated in the national Top 10 and reached the NCAA Division I Tournament Sweet 16, but after the 1972-73 season, the USL program was disbanded for a couple of years because of alleged NCAA rules violations and USL’s legal challenge to the NCAA’s authority.  That ended Shipley’s college coaching career. He briefly was head coach of the San Diego team in the ABA. He is in the Louisiana Basketball Hall of Fame.

LIONEL WASHINGTON, football
A former Tulane cornerback from 1979-82 and a fourth-round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1985, Washington carved out a productive 15-year NFL career with the Cardinals, L.A./Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos. Playing in 204 games and starting 165 during his career, he intercepted 37 passes and returned four for touchdowns. He had a career-high eight interceptions as a rookie in 1983 and picked off at least three passes five times in his career. Washington also had at least one interception in 13 of his 15 seasons. The Lutcher native coached with the Green Bay Packers and just ended his second season as co-defensive coordinator at Tulane, helping the Green Wave to a New Orleans Bowl bid in 2013. Born Oct. 21, 1960.

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