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MX News Update 2024

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Pitt Athletics Hall of Fame unveils class of 2024

PITTSBURGH—The Pitt Athletics Hall of Fame will induct 10 new members into the 2024 induction class, it was announced today by Panthers athletic director Heather Lyke.

The honorees, who will receive induction at the Pitt Athletics Hall of Fame Dinner presented by PNC on Friday, September 13 at the Petersen Events Center are:

  • DeJuan Blair (Men’s Basketball)
  • Dick Groot (broadcaster; posthumous)
  • Bill Hillgrove (broadcaster)
  • Amy Jackson (Women’s swimming)
  • Brianna Kiesel (Women’s Basketball)
  • George McLaren (Football; posthumous)
  • Jamie Pelusi (Women’s football)
  • Darrelle Revis (Football)
  • Al Romano (Football)
  • Steve Lewis (Track and Field Coach; posthumous)

“Our Hall of Fame classes annually showcase not only the greatest athletes in Pitt history, but also the very best athletes to ever compete in their respective sports,” said Lyke. “These ten awards embody that same legendary excellence.

“This class includes iconic performers representing six different sports and, for the first time ever, the broadcasting industry. Their achievements truly inspire Pitt pride and we look forward to celebrating their well-deserved induction this fall.”

In addition to the September 13 induction dinner, the nominees will be introduced on Saturday, September 14 at Acrisure Stadium when the Panthers take on historic rival West Virginia.

“The Pitt Athletics Hall of Fame induction dinner has become one of the must-attend events in Western Pennsylvania,” Lyke said. “We look forward to celebrating our awards in style with our guests.”

Nominations were solicited from the general public for the Pitt Athletics Hall of Fame. Applicants must be five years removed from their final year of collegiate competition and must not be currently playing professional sports.

The Pitt Athletics Hall of Fame selection committee then evaluated the applicant pool and made a recommendation on the class to the athletic director.

For information about tickets to the Hall of Fame dinner, visit www.pittsburghpanthers.com/halloffame, email [email protected] or call (412) 648-8889.

Biographies of the 2024 Pitt Athletics Hall of Fame Class

DeJuan Blair | Men’s Basketball | 2007-09
A product of Pittsburgh’s historic Hill District who lived just a quarter mile from the Petersen Events Center, Blair is one of the most dominant and decorated players in Pitt basketball history. A 6-foot-1 center, he bullied bigger opponents with a rough and ruthless style. Blair averaged a double-double (15.7 points and 12.3 rebounds) during his final collegiate season, leading the Panthers to a 31–5 record and the Elite Eight of the 2009 NCAA Tournament. Pitt climbed to the first-ever No. 1 national ranking twice that season. Blair was a 2009 All-American (consensus), becoming the first Pitt basketball player to earn that status since Don Hennon in 1959, and the Big East’s Co-Player of the Year. He burst onto the scene as a freshman, averaging 11.6 points and 9.1 boards, earning 2008 Big East Co-Rookie of the Year and Freshman All-America honors. Blair’s play led Pitt to the 2008 Big East Tournament title. He was selected by the San Antonio Spurs in the 2009 NBA Draft and later played with the Dallas Mavericks and Washington Wizards during a seven-year professional career.

Bill Hillgrove and Dick Groat (posthumous) | Broadcasters
Hillgrove and Groat formed one of the most beloved sports broadcasting duos in Pittsburgh history, calling Pitt men’s basketball games on the radio from 1979 to 2019. Reflecting their iconic status, Hillgrove and Groat are the first inductees into the Pitt Athletics Hall of Fame who did not play or coach for the Panthers. Hillgrove has been the play-by-play voice for Pitt basketball since 1969. He was Pitt Football’s color analyst from 1970-73 before taking over play-by-play duties for the 1974 season. Hillgrove has received three of the most prestigious awards in sports broadcasting: the Lindsey Nelson Award, Chris Schenkel Award and Woody Durham Voice of College Sports Award. Groat is one of Western Pennsylvania’s premier multi-sport athletes. He was a college basketball All-American at Duke and the 1960 National League MVP and NL batting champion with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Groat was recruited by Hillgrove to serve as his analyst for Pitt basketball broadcasts prior to the 1979–80 season. They were together for 40 seasons and provided the soundtrack to some of the most exciting moments in Pitt basketball history.

Amy Jackson | Women’s swimming | 1978-1982
Jackson became one of the most decorated athletes in Pitt history, regardless of sport. She was a four-year All-American, becoming only the fourth Pitt athlete at the time to accomplish the feat (joining football player Tony Dorsett and fellow women’s swimmers Kathy Stetler and Suzanne Pulley). Jackson earned All-America citations in a whopping 20 events: the 50-yard butterfly (twice); 100 meter butterfly (four); 200 meter butterfly (once); 100 meter freestyle (twice); 200 meter freestyle (twice); 200 meter free relay (one-off); 400-meter free relay (four); 800-meter free relay (three); and 400-meter medley relay (one-off). She also captured Eastern championships in the 50 butterfly, 100 butterfly, 200 freestyle and 400 free relay. Her name is listed on the Varsity Walk as a recipient of the prestigious Blue-Gold Award.

Brianna Kiesel | Women’s Basketball | 2011-15
Kiesel is one of the most versatile and productive talents to ever grace a Pitt basketball court. The lightning-quick guard became the only player in Pitt women’s basketball history to compile at least 1,500 points, 500 rebounds and 400 assists in a career. Additionally, Kiesel is the only player to lead Pitt in scoring and assists in four consecutive seasons. When starting all 122 games of her career, she averaged 15.9 points and recorded at least 20 points in 42 games. As a senior, she led the Panthers to the NCAA Tournament by averaging 18.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists. She was a first-team All-ACC honoree in 2015 and was also named to the ACC’s All-Defensive Team that season. In addition to her stellar performance on the court, Kiesel was a three-time All-Academic honoree, earning the honor twice in the ACC (2014-15) and once in the Big East (2013). She became only the second female student-athlete to win the Panther Award and Blue-Gold Award, etching her name twice on Pitt’s prestigious Varsity Walk. Kiesel was selected by the Tulsa Shock in the WNBA Draft in 2015 – only the second Pitt player ever drafted – and played six professional seasons, including time abroad in Poland, Sweden, Hungary and Israel.

George McLaren (posthumous) | Football | 1915-1918
Playing under legendary coach Glenn “Pop” Warner at Pitt, McLaren was a hard-working fullback who was never thrown for a loss in four varsity seasons. His 91-yard touchdown run against Syracuse in 1917 stood as the Pitt record for 100 years. McLaren was selected first team All-American twice (1917–1918) and earned consensus status in 1918. Pitt went a combined 30-1 during his career, including three undefeated seasons (1915-1917). His 1916 and 1918 teams were unanimously selected as national champions. McLaren was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1965.

Jamie Pelusi | Women’s football | 2002-05
Pelusi established himself as a standard bearer for Pitt goaltenders. She started 53 consecutive games at the position and finished her career as the Panthers’ all-time leader in saves (456), save percentage (.786), goals against average (1.75), shutouts (13) and wins (19). Nearly twenty years after her last collegiate game, she still ranks first in saves, second in save percentage, shutouts and wins, and fourth in goals against average. Pelusi was a two-time All-Big East honoree and the conference’s Goalkeeper of the Year in 2004. She was a talented student, earning Big East All-Academic recognition each of her four seasons. As a senior, Pelusi received the Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup, a prestigious national award given to an athlete who demonstrates excellence on and off the field and proved to be a role model as an athletic performer and person. Her name is listed on the Varsity Walk as a recipient of the prestigious Blue-Gold Award.

Darrelle Revis | Football | 2004-06
The man who became known as “Revis Island” for his ability to cover NFL receivers in man-to-man coverage showed the same dominance at Pitt. Revis was recruited from nearby Aliquippa – a longstanding talent pipeline for Pitt – and was an instant impact performer starting in 2004. He earned Freshman All-America status while helping the Panthers to the Big East title and a Fiesta Bowl berth, Pitt’s first Bowl Championship Series. (BCS) bid. Over three collegiate seasons, he played in all 35 games and made 34 starts. Revis was a two-time first-team All-Big East cornerback who also excelled as a punt returner. He scored five touchdowns at Pitt: three on interceptions and two on punt returns. Perhaps his most memorable collegiate play was a dazzling 73-yard punt return against West Virginia, which was voted “College Football Play of the Year” by ESPN in 2006. Revis was a first-round NFL Draft selection of the New York Jets in 2007. Over eleven NFL seasons, he was a seven-time Pro Bowler and four-time first-team All-Pro. In 2023, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Al Romano | Football | 1973-76
Romano was part of Johnny Majors’ first Pitt recruiting class in 1973 and helped build the foundation that produced one of the most dramatic turnarounds in college football history. During his four seasons, the Panthers rose from the Eastern doormat to undefeated national champions. A nose tackle who played figuratively and literally at the heart of Pitt’s defense, Romano was a consensus All-American and Outland Trophy finalist in 1976. He was responsible for the biggest defensive play of the 1976 title season when he took a Syracuse ball carrier deep stopped. in Pitt territory on fourth and short, protecting a seven-point lead in an eventual 23-13 victory. Romano was named Most Valuable Lineman in the 1975 Sun Bowl, a 33-19 win over Kansas that served as the launching pad for Pitt’s national championship campaign.

Steve Lewis (posthumous) | Athletics coach | 1984-2002
Lewis coached some of the most talented track and field performers in Pitt history during his nearly two-decade tenure with the Panthers. He arrived at Pitt in 1982 as an assistant men’s track and field coach. Lewis became head women’s track and field coach in 1984 and also continued to work with the men’s sprinters and hurdlers. In 1994, he took over as head coach for both programs and served in that capacity for the next eight years. His incredible list of athletes includes two-time Olympic gold medalist Roger Kingdom, four-time NCAA champion Lee McRae, two-time NCAA champion Najuma Fletcher and seven-time NCAA champion Trecia-Kaye Smith. Under Lewis’ leadership, the 1998 women’s track and field team finished third at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Five of his Pitt squads won Big East team titles. From an individual standpoint, he coached nearly 70 All-Americans and more than 130 Big East individual champions.

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