RALEIGH, North Carolina – The North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame is honored to announce its 2023 induction class. The new members listed alphabetically, include Rick Barnes, Jason Brown, Jeff Davis, Donald Evans, Tom Fazio, Ellen Griffin, Tom Higgins, Clarkston Hines, Bob “Stonewall” Jackson, Trudi Lacey, Ronald Rogers, John Sadri, Jerry Stackhouse, Curtis Strange and Rosie Thompson. Their planned induction will bring the total number of inductees to 400.
This esteemed group will be enshrined during the 59th annual Induction Celebration on the evening of Friday, April 21, at the Raleigh Convention Center, starting at 7 p.m. A news conference will be held earlier that day at 2 p.m. at the convention center. “This year’s class joining the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame once again reflects the great variety and rich sports heritage that the hall highlights for our state,” said Dr. Jerry McGee, president of the hall’s Board of Directors. “This group and their collective accomplishments in specific areas, from great athletes to highly successful coaches to special contributors, create another exciting chapter for the hall. We are extremely excited about honoring these outstanding individuals in our induction celebration.”
A brief biography of each 2023 inductee follows; deceased inductees being inducted posthumously are indicated by an asterisk:
North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame
Rick Barnes—Hickory native and Lenoir-Rhyne University graduate Barnes has established himself as one of the nation’s top men’s college basketball coaches. He has had successful stints at George Mason, Providence, Clemson, Texas, and currently at Tennessee, and his career head coaching record exceeds the 750-victory mark. That includes 402 wins at Texas from 1998 to 2015, and he is just the third coach to lead three different Division I programs to the Sweet 16, where his teams have gone seven times. Barnes was named the Naismith College Coach of the Year in 2019 after leading the University of Tennessee to a school-record-tying 31 victories.
Jason Brown—A star athlete at Northern Vance High School in football and track and field, Brown had a stellar career at the University of North Carolina, starting as a tackle and eventually playing three years at center, where he was first-team all-ACC in 2004. He was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens of the NFL, starting all 16 games at guard for the Ravens in 2007 and then all 16 at center the following year. He signed a five-year deal in 2009 with the St. Louis Rams that made him the highest-paid center in the league, but he retired from football in 2012 and became a farmer in Louisburg, maintaining First Fruits Farms, where he grows produce and donates crops to food pantries.
Jeff Davis—Davis was the captain of Clemson University’s 1981 national championship football team, and during that season, he was the ACC Player of the Year and a first-team All-American. Third all-time in Clemson history in tackles, he was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL and played six years there, leading the team in tackles on three different occasions and was captain of the team for four seasons. Davis started every game in three different seasons and only missed one start in two other years. He is a member of the Clemson, Guilford County Sports, South Carolina Athletics, and College Football halls of fame.
Donald Evans—Evans was a standout football player at Winston-Salem State University, playing both tailback and linebacker there from 1983 to 1986, including 10 sacks in his
senior year. He was a second-round draft choice of the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams in 1987. Although he played little in his first two pro years, he found his place by signing with the
Pittsburgh Steelers, starting in 62 of 64 games over four years for Chuck Noll and then Bill Cowher. He closed his pro career with the Jets. Evans is a member of the Winston-Salem
State Hall of Fame and the CIAA Hall of Fame, and also was an HBCU Living Legends honoree. His philanthropy in his post-football career has benefited several historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
Tom Fazio—Fazio is known as one of America’s top golf course architects, and during his career, he has designed more than 200 courses, of which 46 have been ranked by Golf Digest among its greatest 200 courses in the United States. He also has been named Best ModernDay Golf Course architect by Golf Digest three times. He began his career in course design with his family’s firm in suburban Philadelphia, then established his own firm in Florida in 1972. He currently maintains an office in Hendersonville. Fazio was only the second-course architect to receive the highest recognition awarded by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America.
Ellen Griffin*—This pioneer in women’s golf was an amazing coach and instructor, as well as helped to found the Women’s Professional Golf Association, the forerunner of the LPGA. After earning a master’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 1940, she taught the game for 28 years at her alma mater and then developed her own facility in Randleman, where she worked with amateurs and pros alike. Griffin was the 1962 LPGA Teacher of the Year and was among the first LPGA Master Professionals. She wrote golf instruction manuals and also spent time as educational director of the National Golf Association. Griffin was the first recipient of the National Golf Association’s Joe Graffis Award for service to the game.
Tom Higgins*—This sports writing legend, who grew up in Burnsville, began his career with the Canton Enterprise and Asheville Times before moving to The Charlotte Observerin 1964 as an outdoors writer. But Higgins quickly became known for his extensive coverage of motorsports and was one of the first full-time NASCAR beat writers, helping to grow the sport tremendously. He retired after 33 years with The Observer but continued to write. A multi-time National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year, he is a member of that organization’s Hall of Fame and also received the Squier-Hall Award, the highest media award given by the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Clarkston Hines—Hines, a Duke University football star, was a three-time first-team allACC selection and the ACC Player of the Year in 1989. He’s one of the most prolific wide receivers in conference history. He was twice named first-team All-American and held 12 Duke receiving records upon graduation to go with a couple of ACC career marks in touchdown receptions (38) and 100-yard games (18). Hines earned the ACC Male Athlete of the Year, the McKevlin Award, in 1990. A member of the Duke Sports Hall of Fame, he was elected in 2010 to the College Football Hall of Fame.
Bob “Stonewall” Jackson*—Jackson was a highly decorated World War II veteran who enrolled after the war at Negro Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina (now North Carolina A&T State University), where he became a four-time all-CIAA player as a star linebacker. He made history when he became the first African American from a historically Black college to be drafted by the NFL, playing for both the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles. After his playing career, Jackson coached football at Johnson C. Smith University and then spent more than 30 years as an educator and coach at North Carolina Central University, where he taught and was an assistant football coach and longtime athletic trainer.
Trudi Lacey—Lacey has had an amazing career as an athlete, coach and administrator. Currently the athletic director at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, Lacey was a four-year basketball star under legendary coach Kay Yow at N.C. State, scoring 1,957 points during her career and winning a pair of ACC regular season titles and a conference tournament crown. Lacey has been a head coach at both the college and the professional level, including a stint with the Washington Mystics of the WNBA as both coach and general manager. She also has served as an assistant director for U.S.A. Women’s Basketball and is a member of the N.C. State Athletics Hall of Fame.
Ronald Rogers*—A native and lifelong resident of Leicester, Rogers was Western Carolina’s first three-time NAIA All-American in basketball (1951, 1952, 1953). He scored 1,960 points during his Western Carolina College (now University) career, third all-time in school history, with a career scoring average of 21.5 points per game, and was the North State Conference’s all-time leading scorer upon graduation after earning all-conference honors three straight years. Rogers scored in double figures in 82 straight games. He was a charter member of the Western Carolina Hall of Fame, and his jersey number, 15, was retired there. John Sadri—Born in Charlotte and a graduate of Myers Park High School, Sadri is one of the top tennis players to come from North Carolina. He was an all-American at N.C. State University, where he advanced to the NCAA singles finals in 1978, losing to John McEnroe. He was twice ACC singles champ and also won a pair of ACC doubles crowns. Sadri was ranked as high as 14th in the world as a professional, shortly after he had reached the finals of the Australian Open. He won two professional singles titles and three doubles championships, twice finishing second in doubles at the Australian Open. Sadri is a member of the North Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame.
Jerry Stackhouse—A native of Kinston, Stackhouse had an amazing career as a basketball player. A Parade high school All-American, he was a consensus first-team All-American at the University of North Carolina and earned ACC Tournament MVP honors in 1994. He played two seasons for the Tar Heels and then was the third overall selection in the 1995 NBA draft. Stackhouse enjoyed a stellar 18-year NBA career, in which he scored 16,409 points and twice was an NBA All-Star. He is currently the head coach at Vanderbilt University, after serving as an assistant with the Memphis Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors in the NBA and leading a G-League team to a championship as head coach.
Curtis Strange—A native of Norfolk, VA, Strange is a golf legend, winning 17 PGA Tour championships after a tremendous collegiate career at Wake Forest University. He was the 1974 NCAA individual champion and led Wake Forest to the team title. He twice won the U.S. Open championship and was one of the tour’s leading players in the 1980s, leading the PGA Tour earnings list in 1985, ’87 and ’88. Strange also played on six U.S. Ryder Cup teams and was the captain in 2002. A member of the World Golf Hall of Fame and the Virginia Hall of Fame, Strange shares time between North Carolina and Florida and also has excelled as a golf commentator on television.
Rosie Thompson—More than 40 years after her women’s basketball playing career at East Carolina University ended, Thompson still ranks as the school’s all-time leader in scoring (2,352 points), points per game (20.8), rebounds (1,183) and rebound average (10.8). A three-time all-NCAIAW selection, she is the only woman in ECU history to have her jersey number retired. She played professional basketball before returning to ECU as an assistant coach and went on to serve three years as head coach, from there moving into administration as ECU’s senior women’s administrator (SWA). Thompson is a member of the East Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.
Ticket information for the Induction Celebration is available at www.ncshof.org.
About the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame
The N.C. Sports Hall of Fame was established in 1963. A permanent exhibit, the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame is located on the third floor of the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh and features over 200 significant objects and memorabilia donated by inductees. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is free.
About the North Carolina Museum of History
The North Carolina Museum of History, a Smithsonian Affiliate, fosters a passion for North Carolina history. This museum collects and preserves artifacts of state history and educates the public on the history of the state and the nation through exhibits and educational programs. Admission is free. The Museum of History, within the Division of State History Museums, is part of the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.