EUGENE – Rich Brooks, who led the University of Oregon to the 1995 Rose Bowl in addition to laying the foundation for the football program’s most successful era in school history, highlights a quintet of individual standouts who will be inducted as part of the school’s 16th class into the university’s Athletics Hall of Fame during festivities spanning the weekend of Nov. 2-3.
The inductees, who will join the previous 146 elite individuals and 16 teams who have been selected as part of the athletics showcase that originated in 1992, will be formally honored at a Friday night banquet in the Casanova Center followed by an introduction during halftime of the weekend’s Oregon-Arizona State football game. Joining Brooks, who departed Oregon for the NFL following the 1994 season as the winningest football coach in school history, will be Arne Kvalheim (track & field), Debbie Sporcich (women’s basketball), Willie West (football) and James Yuhashi (men’s gymnastics).
A limited number of tickets to the Friday night induction banquet are available to the general public for $60 each, and may be reserved by calling the Duck Athletic Fund office at (541) 346-4460. The deadline for reservations is Friday, Oct. 19.
Brooks guided the Ducks to their first Rose Bowl appearance in 37 seasons following the 1994 season and completed his 18-year tenure with 91 wins. The two-time Pacific-10 Conference Coach of the Year and 1994 national honoree led the school to its first undisputed conference championship in 46 seasons, became Oregon’s first coach to guide it to four post-season berths and the first ever to take the Ducks to back-to-back bowl appearances. While also serving as head football coach, Brooks held the post as the university’s director of athletics from 1992-94.
Kvalheim (pronounced K-VAL-hime) was an 11-time Norwegian national champion at 800, 1,500, 5,000 meters and cross country who also set Norwegian and Nordic records in the mile and 1,500. The 1968 Norwegian Olympian reigned as one of the top collegiate distance runners in the world during the springs of 1968 and ‘69, setting a collegiate record in the 2-mile run (8:33.2) as well as Oregon school records in the 1,500 (3:38.5), 5,000 (8:29.68) and 3-mile run (13:14.6) in 1968. In addition, he ran a leg on the 4-mile relay that eclipsed the world record that same year (16:05.0). The 1968 NCAA All-American (4th, 5,000) also won the Pacific-8 Conference’s 3-mile run in 1969 (13:39.4).
Sporcich became the first women’s basketball player in school history to lead the team in rebounding four consecutive years (1991-94). The 1994 first-team Pacific-10 Conference all-league choice and three-time team MVP (1992-94) completed her collegiate career as the program’s fourth-best rebounder (868) and sixth-leading scorer (1,404) of all time. She also finished third in Pac-10 history in career field goal accuracy (54.0%) and eighth in rebounding, leading her team in scoring (15.6 avg.) and rebounding (9.1 avg.) her senior season while pacing the Ducks to their first NCAA tournament appearance in seven years.
West led the Ducks in rushing (470 yards) and receiving (18 catches, 140 yards) in 1958 before returning the following year as Oregon’s scoring leader (48 points). Ranking third in the Pacific Coast Conference in rushing and second in punt returns as a junior, he earned first-team all-conference honors as a defensive back in 1958 before garnering all-coast accolades his final collegiate campaign. The honorable mention All-American played a key role on Oregon’s 1957 Rose Bowl squad before the fourth-round NFL draft choice enjoyed a nine-year professional football career. He was a second-team all-AFL selection and selected to the Pro Bowl in 1966.
Yuhashi was a two-time NCAA All-American in 1980 and ‘81, and claimed the 1981 floor exercise national championship his senior season. The Ducks’ school-record holder in the floor exercise (9.90) and the vault (9.80) helped lead Oregon to its fourth consecutive Pacific-10 Conference championship in 1980 as the team eclipsed 12 or 13 school records that season. During his collegiate career, he help lead Oregon to a two-year ledger of 27-2 en route to the team finishing third in the NCAA championships in 1980 and fifth in 1981. Each spring a selection committee reviews the list of nominees submitted by the general public, as well as from former Oregon athletes, coaches and administrators, with their eligibility for inclusion into the school’s Athletics Hall of Fame commencing 10 years following their departure from the university.