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July 13, 2010

Vanderbilt announces third Hall of Fame class

Ten new members will be inducted into Vanderbilt's third Hall of Fame class this fall, school officials announced on Tuesday.

The new members include men's basketball all-time leading scorer Shan Foster, former football standouts Will Wolford and Ernest "Bucky" Curtis, former women's basketball All-American Heidi Gillingham Jackson, baseball All-American Jeff Peeples, basketball assistant coach Ed Martin, tennis greats Ann Hutcheson Price and Chris Groer, former swimming champion Frank Lorge and sports pioneer Grantland Rice.

Foster, perhaps the most popular of the group, enjoyed a brilliant basketball career from 2004-2008, scoring a Commodore record 2,011 points. Known for his great outside shooting, Foster also ended his career as one of the Southeastern Conference's top all-time three-point shooters and was the consensus league player of the year as a senior. Also a All-American selection by the Associated Press in 2008, Foster won the Lowe's Senior Class Award that same year. He led the Commodores to the back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances for just the second time in the school's storied basketball history. One of the most beloved Commodores of the past 30 years, Foster is currently pursuing an NBA career with the Dallas Mavericks summer team.

Wolford, considered one of the best offensive linemen to ever play football at the school, started as a true freshman in 1982, helping the Commodores reach just the programs third bowl game. The Kentucky native went on to start every game during his last three years at the school, earning unanimous first team All-SEC honors as a senior in 1985. In 1986, he became the first Vanderbilt lineman to ever be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft and enjoyed a 13 year career in the league, going to three Pro Bowls and playing in three Super Bowls as well.

Curtis was one of Vanderbilt football's top standouts during the programs first 60 years, earning first team All-American honors as a senior in 1950. Led the nation in receiving during that year, averaging nearly 30 yards per catch. He led the team in receiving for three straight years and finished his career with 17 touchdown catches, which still stands as fifth best in school history. Vanderbilt went 26-15-1 during his four year career and went 3-0-1 against Alabama. Earned MVP recognition after a standout performance in the Senior Bowl following his Commodore career. Drafted in the second round by the Cleveland Browns, Curtis chose to serve in the Navy for four years, earning distinguished honors.

Heidi Gillingham was perhaps the first true superstar in Vanderbilt women's basketball. Standing at a then record 6-foot-10, Gillingham towered over opponents and set a SEC record in blocks (131) that still stands today. Led the Commodores to a No.1 ranking nationally for six weeks during the 1993 season and helped Vanderbilt reach its first and only NCAA Final Four that same year. Named a first team All-American in 1993, Gillingham was also a All-SEC selection for three straight seasons. Led the league in field goal percentage during each of those seasons and still ranks ninth on the school's all-time scoring list. A very popular student athlete during her time on campus, Gillingham may also be one of the tallest Homecoming Queens in collegiate history.

Long before Tim Corbin rejuvenated Vanderbilt's baseball program in the 2000's, Jeff Peeples was the face of the Diamond Dores during the program's first brush of success in the early 1970's. A storied high school athlete at Nashville's Montgomery Bell Academy, Peeples went on to play four years in both baseball and football at Vanderbilt. Earned first team All-SEC honors for three years in a row due to his work on the mound, Peeples became VU baseball's first All-American in 1973. Still leads the program in all-time wins (29) and in earned run average (1.68). Led the Commodores to the school's first SEC Baseball Championship in 1973 after leading the program to three straight Eastern Division championships from 1971-1973. Peeples was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals after his Vanderbilt was over.

Ed Martin's Vanderbilt sports contribution may have only been through 1985-1989, but the legendary former Tennessee State University basketball coach made the most of his time for the Commodores, helping develop one of Vanderbilt's greatest centers in Will Perdue as well as fellow NBA forward Jeff Turner. His efforts also helped the Commodores struggling basketball program return to respectability and the NCAA Tournament, including a memorable 1988 Sweet 16 run. As a head coach at TSU, Martin won a Associated Press National Championship in 1973 and won 290 games for the historic basketball program. Also coached at South Carolina State and finished career with 508 coaching wins. A respected man throughout the entire Nashville community, Martin also contributed to the university as a leader in the school's Human and Organization Development program to help the community. Inspired young students to volunteer their time with his tutelage of a freshman course. Named associated professor of human development at Peabody in 1989. He passes away in 2005 at the age of 75 and is still remembered as one of Nashville's greatest public citizens.

Ann Hutcheson was one of Vanderbilt women's tennis first true standouts, lettering from 1969-1971. Made the round of 16 at the National Women's Tennis Tournament in 1970 and 1971, Hutcheson was a three-time collegiate champion in the state of Tennessee and was also a state college doubles champion in 1969. Played during the days of non-scholarships for tennis players and served as the team's co-captain. Went on to serve as chief resident at Vanderbilt and now serves as the Associate Dean of Alumni affairs for Vanderbilt School of Medicine. A member of the Tennessee Tennis Hall of Fame and the Metro Nashville Public School's Hall of Fame.

Chris Groer made his collegiate tennis impact at Vanderbilt in the mid 1990's, becoming the school's first All-American in modern history in 1996. A walk-on who came to the school on a academic scholarship, Groer qualified for both singles and doubles NCAA championships in 1996 and reached the semifinals of the ITA All-American Tournament that same year. Still holds the best Vanderbilt doubles winning percentage with partner Krunch Kloberdanz and earned Academic All-SEC honors all four years on the tennis team. He was also a Academic All-American in 1995 and 1996. Won 14 doubles titles as a pro and one singles title. Groer became an intelligence specialist for the Department of Defense and now works as a researcher in the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Lorge was perhaps the best male swimmer in Vanderbilt history. A two-time SEC champion in 200-yard backstroke in 1969 and 1970, Lorge was a three-time NCAA championships qualifier and went undefeated during dual meets during his Vanderbilt career. Went on to receive his undergraduate, doctorate and masters in engineering and environmental at Vanderbilt from 1973 through 1982. Received the Stein Stone Memorial Award by the School of Engineering. In 1990, he won the Masters National Championship in the 200-meter backstroke and plans to compete for another championship this year.

Grantland Rice may be the most history member of the class, due to his effect on the sports world and Vanderbilt during the early 1900's. Regarded as America's greatest all-time sportswriter, Rice helped shape the nation's sporting eye for generations and penned some of the most famous words in sports during the 20th century. Greatly Rice's value to sports journalism was recognized in 1962 when he was the first inductee into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame. Received several awards for his contributions in football and baseball. A former football and baseball player at Vanderbilt, Rice served as the baseball team captain in 1901. Elected to the Vanderbilt Board of Trust in 1926, the Murfreesboro born Rice always stayed true to his roots at Vanderbilt despite his immense national appeal. Vanderbilt still honors Rice to this day as a part of the Grantland Rice-Fred Russell Sports Writing Scholarship, awarded each year for an incoming Vanderbilt freshman who intends to pursue a career in sports journalism.

Vanderbilt will hold a Hall of Fame Weekend on September 3rd-5th, with the Induction Dinner Friday, September 3 at Vanderbilt's Student-Life Center. The Class of 2010 will be presented during Saturday's football game with Northwestern.

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