On May 27 during the MAC Honors Dinner at the Cleveland Renaissance Hotel, five honorees will be inducted into the MAC Hall of Fame.
"It is only appropriate for our Conference to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of our former student-athletes, coaches and administrators, specifically these five individuals, and their achievements during their time competing in the Mid-American Conference," MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said in a release. "The MAC Hall of Fame is a testament to the achievements of those that have competed and served in this great Conference."
Ben Roethlisberger- Miami RedHawks football
You might know Roethlisberger as a two-time Super Bowl winner with the Pittsburgh Steelers. But before he was a first-round Draft pick turned NFL Rookie of the Year (2004) and Pro Bowl star, he was one of the best quarterbacks to ever play in the MAC.
From 2001-2003, Roethlisberger had nearly 11,000 passing yards, completing 65 percent of his 1,304 passes. His junior year, the RedHawks went 13-1 with a MAC Championship win at #23 Bowling Green Falcons and GMAC Bowl win over the Louisville Cardinals. With over 11,000 yards of total offense that season, he was the MAC's MVP, won the Vern Smith Award and earned third-team All-America honors.
Gary Pinkel- Toledo Rockets/Kent State Golden Flashes football
Pinkel used to be a tight end for the Golden Flashes in the early 1970's. In his senior season, Pinkel earned All-MAC and honorable mention All-America honors. Keeping that in mind, he was a much better coach than he was player.
Spending ten years with the Toledo Rockets (1991-2000), Pinkel's teams totaled 73 wins with a winning percentage of .659. Both of which are school records. The 1995 team went 11-0-1, finishing no. 22 in the coaches' poll. The 1995 and 1997 MAC Coach of the Year left Toledo after the 2000 season and continued his winning ways with the Missouri Tigers as their all-time leader in wins with 113.
George Dales- Western Michigan Broncos men's cross country and men's track & field
A Miami University graduate with cum laude honors in 1942, Dales immediately served three years in the U.S. Navy during World War II. After discharge, Dales' coaching roots began at East High School in Cleveland, then continued his education at Michigan.
In short, he's turned Western Michigan into a national championship-winning program, worked with the world's first 18-foot pole vaulter Christos Papanicalaou, coached Olympic Gold Medalist and world record holder Ira Murchison and NCAA standout John Bork. There's even an award named after him given by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, given to a "distinguished individual" that has enhanced the profession of coaching the sport.
Bob Parks- Eastern Michigan Eagles men's track & field and men's cross country
Parks ran for EMU when it wasn't EMU; it was still Michigan Normal College from 1951-1955. He ended up being an assistant coach for WMU, but eventually accepted a head coaching job at EMU in 1967. He ended up coaching at EMU until 2001. In those 34 years, his teams have won 31 MAC titles, named MAC Coach of the Year on 22 times, winner of six NAIA and NCAA team titles, NCAA regional Coach of the Year nine times and NCAA National Coach of the year in 2000.
Every Olympic Games ranging from 1960-2004 included an athlete coached by Parks. He coached a total of eight that have gone on to 13 Olympic Games. Hasely Crawford won Gold in 1976, Clement Chukwu was a Silver Medal winner in 2000 and Earl Jones won bronze in 1984 in their respective events. He's also coached over 110 All-Americans.
Casey Cunningham- Central Michigan Chippewas wrestling
Easily one of the best wrestlers in CMU history, Cunningham was not only a threat against the MAC, but against everybody else in the 157-pound weight class around the nation. A three-time MAC champion, Cunningham was a two-time All-American, named MAC Wrestler of the year his junior and senior years after already earning MAC Freshman of the Year honors in 1996.
Cunningham would later be an assistant coach for CMU for seven years. CMU was the outright MAC Champion for all seven years.
The MAC Hall of Fame has only been around since the 1987, approved by the MAC Council of Presidents which had its first inducted class in 1988. This will only be the MAC's tenth Hall of Fame class, bringing the total number of those inducted up to 77. All five honorees are expected to be in attendance for the event.