Seven Athletes, One Team Inducted Into Butler Hall Of Fame
June 10, 2007
The top two scorers in Butler basketball history, one of the most successful high school football coaches in Indiana and the first Butler team to advance to the NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament were included in the 2007 induction class of the Butler University Athletic Hall of Fame, which was formally recognized on Sunday (June 10). A total of seven former athletes and one team were honored at Butler's annual induction banquet held on campus in the Riley Room at Atherton Center.
Honored as Butler's 17th Hall of Fame induction class were student-athletes Jerry Shultz (football, 1959-61), Bruce Scifres (football, 1976-78), Ken LaRose (football, 1976-79, football head coach, 1992-2001), Sarah Fee Essick (women's tennis, 1979-83) Darrin Fitzgerald (men's basketball, 1983-87), the late Chad Tucker (men's basketball, 1983-88), and Christine Essington Irbe (women's volleyball, 1983-86), plus the 1961-62 men's basketball team. The class was formally inducted by Butler Director of Athletics Barry Collier, himself a member of the 2006 Butler Hall of Fame class.
Shultz played three seasons at Butler, after transferring from Cincinnati and was a starting tackle on two of Butler's most successful football teams. He took over as a starter for graduated All-American tackle Walt Stockslager in 1960 and helped lead the Bulldogs to an 8-1 record and a championship in the Indiana Collegiate Conference. The following season, Shultz helped lead Butler to a perfect 9-0 record and another Indiana Collegiate Conference title. During his three seasons with the Bulldogs, Butler won three consecutive league championships.
Scifres was the leading rusher on Butler's football team for two straight seasons, 1977-78, and he finished his Butler career as the Bulldogs' all-time leader in rushing attempts (since broken). He was a first team all-conference running back and Butler's Most Valuable Offensive Player in 1977, when he rushed for 750 yards and nine touchdowns. The durable and hard-working back still stands eighth on Butler's all-time rushing list with 2,013 career yards. He's also been one of the most successful high school football coaches in Indiana, boasting six state championships at Roncalli High School. That total ranks third all-time among Indiana high school coaches.
LaRose, a four-year starter as an offensive lineman, was named Butler's Most Valuable Offensive Player in 1979. He was a first team all-conference performer in 1977 and 1979, and he was a Butler team captain in 1979. The four-year letterwinner returned to Butler as an assistant football coach in 1984, and he was named head coach in 1992. LaRose guided Butler's football transition from the NCAA Division II to the NCAA I-AA. He tied Hall of Fame member Bill Lynch for most wins by a first-year Butler football coach with eight victories in 1992, and he matched Lynch by winning a conference championship in his first season. He guided Butler to a co-championship in the Pioneer Football League in 1994, and he finished his coaching career in third place on Butler's all-time list for football coaching victories.
Essick was a four-year letterwinner on the Butler women's tennis team, 1979-82. She captured the Indiana women's collegiate state championship at #1 singles as a sophomore in 1980, one year after finishing runner-up at #1 singles in the state tournament. The Bloomington native helped Butler to a four-year record of 43-13 and three consecutive state runner-up finishes. She posted an 11-5 singles record as a senior, while helping Butler to a 14-2 team mark.
Fitzgerald became the first player in Butler basketball history to score 2,000 career points. He played just one season under the NCAA three-point field goal rule and set a national record for three-pointers made (158) that still stands today. The 5-9 guard averaged 5.6 three-point field goals per game in 1986-87, which was more than 270 of the 290 Division I teams that year! He set a Butler single game scoring record with 54 points against Detroit as a senior, and he established a single season scoring record (since broken) with 734 points in 1986-87. Fitzgerald, who also led Butler in assists for four consecutive seasons, finished his career with 2,019 points.
Tucker, who played three seasons with Fitzgerald, finished his career as Butler's all-time leading scorer with 2,321 points! He was a three-time Butler Most Valuable Player, three-time first team all-conference performer and a 1985 honorable mention All-American. The 6-8 forward had 108 double-figures scoring performances, including 59 games of 20 or more points. He averaged 20.9 points in Hinkle Fieldhouse and 18.9 points on the road for his 117-game career! Tucker, who passed away in 1996, still ranks on Butler's "Top 10" list for scoring, rebounding, field goal shooting and free throw shooting.
Irbe was a standout performer on Butler's volleyball teams in the mid-1980s. She was a four-year letterwinner, a team captain (1987) and a Butler Most Valuable Player (1987). As a junior, she was named Butler's Most Outstanding Offensive Player and Butler's Co-Most Outstanding Defensive Player. Irbe was a first team All-North Star Conference pick in 1985 and a first team All-Midwestern Collegiate Conference performer in 1986. She remains Butler's all-time leader with 202 solo blocks and Butler's single season record-holder with 88 solo blocks. Her .318 hitting percentage in 1985 still ranks third on Butler's single season list, and she stands third on Butler's career list for blocks with 517.
The 1961-62 men's basketball team, coached by legendary Paul D. "Tony" Hinkle, compiled a 22-6 record, won the Indiana Collegiate Conference championship and became the first Butler team to advance to the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs defeated Bowling Green in the first round of the tournament, before losing to #3 Kentucky. Butler then defeated Western Kentucky in the regional consolation game. The 22 victories compiled by the 1961-62 squad were the most by a Butler team in the first 63 years of Butler basketball history! Seven players on that team, plus Hinkle and assistant coach Bob Dietz already are in Butler's Hall of Fame.
The Butler Hall of Fame was created in 1991 to provide a forum in which those who have brought honor and respect to Butler University and its athletic program could be acknowledged and permanently enshrined in Hinkle Fieldhouse. Inductees have made exceptional contributions to the prestige of the University in the field of athletics, and continued to demonstrate in their lives the values imparted by athletics. The Hall of Fame wall is located at the front entrance to Hinkle Fieldhouse.