Legends return for MSU Athletics Hall of Fame induction

The Murray State University Athletics Hall of Fame class of 2020 included, from left, Tara Isbell, Joi Scott, Walter Powell, John Beaton, Jackie Mounts Nick Newcomb and Billy Kennedy. Not pictured are Jenna Bradley, Cameron Payne and Patrick Newcomb, all of whom were unable to attend.

MURRAY – After a long wait through the pandemic, the 2020 class of the Murray State Athletics Hall of Fame was honored with an in-person gathering at Roy Stewart Stadium Saturday night.

Being on the turf at the old stadium made for a beautiful backdrop as most of the 10-person class and their presenters reminisced about outstanding achievements and memories that helped the group produce 31 Ohio Valley Conference awards of all kinds, including 11 annual awards. Those awards included OVC coach, player, freshman, defensive or athlete of the Year and 11 OVC team championships. The class came from seven Murray State sport programs as the 38th class in the history of the MSU Hall of Fame since the first class in 1965.

The 2020 class and presenters included John Beaton-baseball (1965-66), presented by his brother, Ron Beaton; Jenna Bradley-softball (2010-11), presented by Coach Kara Amundson, who was an assistant coach at the time; Tara Isbell-soccer (2007-10), presented by teammate Kellyn Robison; Coach Billy Kennedy-men’s basketball (2006-11), presented by Coach Steve Prohm, who was an assistant coach; Jackie Mounts-women’s basketball (1975-79), presented by one of the players she coached at MSU, Diane Oakley; Nick and Patrick Newcomb-men’s golf (2007-10, 2009-13), who were presented by their coach, Eddie Hunt; and Cameron Payne-men’s basketball (2013-15), who was presented by Prohm. Walter Powell-football (2010-13) was presented by former Racer coach Chris Hatcher and Joi Scott-women’s basketball (2005-07) was presented by Coach Rob Cross, who recruited her to MSU.

In a rare summer gathering, some of the class couldn’t attend. Jenna Bradley, the first from Racer Softball to be inducted, was about to give birth to her third child. Cameron Payne is busy with the Phoenix Suns, as his team has advanced to the semifinals of the NBA Tournament and professional golfer Patrick Newcomb was playing on the PGA Latino America Tour in Bucaramanga, Columbia.

Almost eight months after the class inductions were postponed because of the pandemic, family and friends finally had the chance to gather in person. Murray State Director of Athletics put the evening in perspective.

“Murray State University is a great place because of the community and you’ve heard it time and time again, it’s the people who make the place,” Saal said. “Murray State Athletics is a great place because of the student-athletes and coaches who have come through here. I think it was about 14 months ago when I made calls to this 2020 class and it’s the best day of the year for me, calling the inductees with news that they’ve been selected for the MSU Hall of Fame. It was absolutely worth the wait to do this in person and share this event with you all.”

A bonus of the day was honoring Coach Connie Keasling for her recent induction into the Ohio Valley Conference Hall of Fame. Coach Keasling, a 2018 MSU hall of famer, coached Racer women’s tennis from 1984-87 and again from 1992-11.