Five distinguished student-athletes and a pair of legendary football coaches make up the 2018 University of Nebraska Athletic Hall of Fame Class, announced on Monday, April 9.
The class includes student-athletes Darin Erstad (baseball 1993-94-95; football 1994), Peaches James (softball 2001-02-03-04), Sarah Pavan (volleyball, 2004-05-06-07), Mike Rozier (football, 1981-82-83) and Tom Schlesinger (men’s gymnastics 1985-86-87-88), along with football coaches Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne, who will be the first coaches enshrined in the Nebraska Athletic Hall of Fame.
Each student-athlete in the 2018 class boasted historic accomplishments. Erstad was the first Husker baseball player to be named the conference player of the year, and he went on to become the first player in Major League Baseball history to win a Gold Glove Award at multiple positions. James was the first pitcher in Big 12 history to be a four-time first-team all-conference selection and was also a two-time finalist for national player of the year. Pavan is the only individual in NCAA history to be a two-time national Academic All-American of the Year, and she is one of only five volleyball players in NCAA history to be a four-time first-team All-American. Rozier was the second player in NCAA history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season when he ran for 2,148 yards in 1983 en route to winning the Heisman Trophy. Schlesinger, the first Husker gymnast to be an Academic All-American, was a multi-time All-American both in competition and in the classroom, in addition to being an individual and team national champion and an Olympian.
The first coaches to be enshrined in the Nebraska Athletic Hall of Fame are both members of the College Football Hall of Fame who also served as Husker Athletic Directors. Devaney guided Nebraska to a 101-20-2 record over 11 seasons from 1962 to 1972 and won eight Big Eight titles and the first two national championships – in any sport – in school history (1970 and 1971). Osborne served on Devaney’s staff each year before taking over as head coach. He won 14 conference titles and three national championships in his 25 seasons (1973-97), guiding Nebraska to a 255-49-3 record. Devaney served as Nebraska’s Athletic Director from 1967 to 1992, while Osborne was the Huskers’ Athletic Director from 2007 to 2012. Devaney and Osborne were just the third coaching duo to post back-to-back 100-win careers at the same institution and the first to do so in 22 years after Osborne recorded his 100th victory in 1983.
The 2018 class will be formally inducted into the Nebraska Athletic Hall of Fame on Friday, Sept. 7, before being recognized the next day during the Husker football game against Colorado. In conjunction with the enshrinement ceremony, a granite plaque with the names of the five members of the 2018 Hall of Fame class will be added to the University of Nebraska Athletic Hall of Fame Plaza.
The Nebraska Athletic Hall of Fame Plaza is located on a renovated walkway, stretching from the columns above the Ed Weir Outdoor Track and Field Stadium and continuing to the historic NU Coliseum. The University of Nebraska Athletic Hall of Fame plaza is accessible to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week at no charge and is lit for night viewing. The plaza serves as a grand entryway to Ed Weir Stadium and recognizes each annual Hall of Fame class, along with columns dedicated to the history and successes of each of Nebraska’s athletic programs.
2018 Nebraska Athletic Hall of Fame Class
· Darin Erstad, Baseball/Football (1993-95/1994)
· Peaches James, Softball (2001-04)
· Sarah Pavan, Volleyball (2004-07)
· Mike Rozier, Football (1981-83)
· Tom Schlesinger, Men’s Gymnastics (1985-88)
· Bob Devaney, Head Football Coach (1962-72); Athletic Director (1967-92)
· Tom Osborne, Head Football Coach (1973-97); Athletic Director (2007-12)
Nebraska Athletic Hall of Fame Bios
Darin Erstad, Baseball/Football (1993-95/1994), Jamestown, N.D.
Darin Erstad was a history maker on the diamond, and he was also the starting punter on the Huskers’ 1994 national championship football team. Erstad helped Nebraska to 103 wins as a three-year baseball letterwinner from 1993 to 1995. He was the first Husker to be a conference player of the year and was NU’s first finalist for a national player-of-the-year award. Despite playing only three seasons, Erstad ended his career with a school-record 261 hits. At the conclusion of his career, he also ranked second all-time in doubles (46), third in home runs (41) and RBIs (182) and fifth in runs scored (188). In his final season in 1995, Erstad was a first-team All-American, the Big Eight Co-Player of the Year and a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award. He hit .410 that season with 19 homers and 79 RBIs and a school-record 46 extra-base hits. Erstad left Nebraska following his junior season after being selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1995 MLB Draft. Erstad went on to a 14-year career, where he became the first player in MLB history to win Gold Glove awards at multiple positions. He was a three-time Gold Glove winner overall and a two-time All-Star. In 2000, Erstad led the majors with 240 hits, won a Silver Slugger Award and became the first leadoff hitter in MLB history to drive in 100 runs. Erstad returned to Nebraska as a volunteer coach in 2011 and has served as the Huskers’ head coach since 2012. He led NU to its first Big Ten title in 2017, when he was the conference coach of the year. On the football field, Erstad accepted Tom Osborne’s invitation to join the Huskers in 1994, when Erstad ranked 14th nationally in punting average (42.6) as Nebraska went 13-0 and won the national title.
Peaches James, Softball (2001-04), Papillion, Neb.
Peaches James was a dominant pitcher during one of the most successful eras in Nebraska softball history. James was a two-time finalist for the USA Softball Collegiate Player-of-the-Year Award in her four seasons. During her career, Nebraska won two Big 12 regular-season championships and one tournament title, finished with a top-15 ranking every season and posted two top-10 national finishes, including a fifth-place showing at the 2002 Women’s College World Series. A four-time team MVP, James was a key force behind Husker teams that won 149 games in her four seasons, the most victories in a four-year stretch in program history. James accounted for 98 of those wins, compiling a 98-38 career record with a 1.19 ERA. She ended her career with a school-record 945 strikeouts and still holds the Nebraska record with 44 career shutouts. James ranks either first or second on seven of Nebraska’s 10 all-time pitching charts, and her 1.19 career ERA ranks fifth and is easily the lowest mark by a Husker since the NCAA increased the pitching distance from 40 to 43 feet in 1988. The first pitcher in Big 12 history to be a four-time first-team all-conference honoree, James was named a finalist for national player of the year as both a sophomore and a senior. In her senior season, James posted a 37-9 record and a 0.70 ERA, setting school records for strikeouts (394) and shutouts (18). James was named the 2004 Big 12 Player of the Year and Big 12 Tournament MVP while leading the Huskers to a sweep of the Big 12 regular-season and tournament titles. James was also a productive hitter, totaling 124 career hits, 63 runs, 16 doubles, 14 homers and 76 RBIs. James graduated with her degree in sociology in 2005. Her No. 42 jersey was retired by Nebraska in 2010. Following her Husker career, James pitched for four seasons in the National Pro Fastpitch league and was an all-star in her rookie season.
Sarah Pavan, Volleyball (2004-07), Kitchener, Ontario
Sarah Pavan is one of the most decorated student-athletes in NCAA history. On the court, Pavan played in two NCAA Finals, won one national championship, was a first-team All-American every season and was selected as the nation’s best volleyball player and top overall female student-athlete in 2006. In the classroom, Pavan graduated with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average in biochemistry in 2008 and was a three-time first-team academic All-American and won an NCAA Top 10 Award as one of the nation’s 10 best student-athletes across all sports and all divisions. She was named the Academic All-American of the Year across all sports as both a junior and senior, becoming the only two-time winner of the award in NCAA history. Pavan also made Nebraska history as the only Husker – and one of only five volleyball players in NCAA history – to be a four-time first-team All-American. Nebraska compiled a 126-7 record during Pavan’s four seasons from 2004 to 2007 and won the Big 12 title every year. The three-time Big 12 Player of the Year, Pavan is Nebraska’s all-time leader in kills (2,008) and kills per game (4.56). As a freshman in 2004, Pavan was a first-team All-American and became the first Husker to be named the AVCA National Freshman of the Year. In each of her final three seasons, Pavan was the Big 12 Player of the Year, a first-team All-American and first-team Academic All-American. She helped Nebraska to an NCAA runner-up finish as a sophomore in 2005 and to the national title as a junior in 2006, when she posted one of the most impressive seasons by any student-athlete in NCAA history. In 2006, Pavan was the unanimous selection as the national player of the year, and she was the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Championship. She went on to become Nebraska’s first winner of the Honda Cup as the nation’s top female athlete and was selected as the overall Academic All-American of the Year. Pavan concluded her career in 2007 by becoming the only player in program history to eclipse 2,000 career kills, while leading Nebraska to a top-five national finish for the fourth straight season. Following her Husker career, Pavan went on to play professionally and for the Canadian National Team. She also took up beach volleyball and competed for Team Canada at the 2016 Olympics. Pavan was selected for the Nebraska Athletic Hall of Fame in her first year on the ballot.
Mike Rozier, Football (1981-83), Camden, N.J.
Mike Rozier was a record-setting running back for Nebraska from 1981 to 1983, helping the Huskers to a 33-5 record and three Big Eight Conference titles. Although he played only three seasons, Rozier is Nebraska’s all-time leading rusher, and he ran for the second-most yards in Big Eight history. Rozier totaled 4,780 rushing yards in only 35 career games, not including the 340 yards he rushed for in three Orange Bowls (the NCAA did not begin including bowl game statistics until 2002). Rozier owns additional Nebraska records with 26 100-yard rushing games, seven 200-yard rushing games and a 7.2 career yards-per-carry average, and he ended his career with the most touchdowns (52) and points (312) in school history. As a senior in 1983, Rozier was a first-team All-American and the consensus national player of the year, winning the Heisman Trophy, the Walter Camp Award and the Maxwell Award. Rozier ran for 2,148 yards as a senior, which was the second-highest total in NCAA history at the time. He also set NCAA records for rushing touchdowns (29) and total touchdowns (29) while becoming the first Husker to lead the NCAA in rushing and the second to lead the country in scoring. Rozier also earned first-team All-America accolades as a junior. Rozier ran for 1,689 yards as a junior – then a school record – and was named the Big Eight Player of the Year. He was an All-Big Eight selection as a sophomore, when he ran for 943 yards. Following his Husker career, Rozier was a first-round selection in both the NFL and USFL Drafts. He was the No. 1 overall pick in the USFL Draft and was the second overall pick in the NFL Supplemental Draft. Rozier played seven seasons in the NFL and rushed for more than 4,400 yards and was a two-time Pro Bowl selection. Rozier’s No. 30 has been retired by Nebraska, and he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2007. Rozier was also named to Sports Illustrated’s All-Century Team as one of the best 85 college football players of the 1900s.
Tom Schlesinger, Men’s Gymnastics (1985-88), Boulder, Colo.
Tom Schlesinger reached the pinnacle of his sport in every way possible during his four-year Husker career from 1985 to 1988. Schlesinger won two individual NCAA titles – including the 1987 all-around title – and was a key member of Nebraska’s 1988 NCAA championship team, when he won the Nissen-Emery Award as the nation’s top gymnast. In addition to being named the nation’s top gymnast, Schlesinger was a seven-time All-American and five-time Big Eight champion. He was also an outstanding student, becoming the first Husker gymnast to be named an Academic All-American by claiming the honor as both a junior and senior. He also won an NCAA Top Six Award in 1989, presented to the NCAA’s six most distinguished student-athletes across all sports and all divisions. Following his Husker career, Schlesinger made the 1988 United States Olympic team as an alternate and was a U.S. National Team member for seven consecutive years. He was inducted into the United States Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 2006. Schlesinger earned his degree in chemistry from Nebraska in 1990 and went on to earn a Ph.D. in biochemistry and his medical degree.
Coach Bob Devaney, Football (1962-72)
Bob Devaney was a prominent figure in Nebraska Athletics for 35 years, serving as head football coach (1962-72), Athletic Director (1967-93) and Athletic Director Emeritus (1993-96). He arrived in Lincoln in 1962 and inherited a football program that had not won a conference title in more than two decades and was coming off five consecutive losing seasons. But in his 11 seasons as coach, Devaney never had a losing season, leading Nebraska to eight conference titles, two national championships and a 101-20-2 record. His teams won nine or more games in nine of his 11 seasons while finishing with a top-10 national ranking seven times. Devaney’s 1970 squad was the first Nebraska team in any sport to win a national championship. The Huskers made it back-to-back national titles in 1971, when Nebraska was the first team in the modern era to post a 13-0 record. Devaney was named the national coach of the year in both 1970 and 1971, and he was a six-time regional coach of the year and five-time Big Eight Coach of the Year. Individually, he coached four members of the College Football Hall of Fame, two Outland Trophy winners, one Heisman Trophy winner and one Lombardi Award winner. Devaney also coached five seasons at Wyoming (35-10-5) before coming to Nebraska. He never had a losing record in his 16 seasons as a head coach and finished with a 136-30-7 record, good for an .806 career winning percentage that ranks 13th all-time. Devaney was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1981. Following his stint as Nebraska’s Athletic Director and Athletic Director Emeritus, Devaney retired in 1996 and lived in Lincoln until he passed away at the age of 82 on May 9, 1997.
Coach Tom Osborne, Football (1973-97)
Tom Osborne spent more than four decades at Nebraska, serving as an assistant football coach (1962-72), head football coach (1973-97) and athletic director (2007-12). One of the greatest coaches in college football history, Osborne won at least nine games in each of his 25 seasons as head coach, compiling a 255-49-3 record. His 255 victories rank eighth all-time and his .836 winning percentage ranks sixth and is the highest of any person who coached for more than 16 seasons. Osborne led Nebraska to 13 conference titles and three national championships. His achievements were so great that the College Football Hall of Fame waived its customary three-year wait for entrance into the hall and enshrined Osborne in December of 1998. Osborne’s last five Nebraska teams combined for a 60-3 record and three national championships. Nebraska won back-to-back national titles in 1994 (13-0) and 1995 (12-0), when NU became just the second school to post back-to-back perfect national championship seasons. After an 11-win season in 1996, the Huskers sent Osborne out on top with another national title in 1997 (13-0) in his final season. Osborne was the first coach in modern college football history to post two seasons with a 13-0 record or better. He was an eight-time conference coach of the year and two-time national coach of the year. The winningest coach in Nebraska football history, Osborne coached seven College Football Hall of Famers, six Outland Trophy winners, three Lombardi Award winners and two Heisman Trophy winners. Upon his retirement, the playing surface at Memorial Stadium was renamed “Tom Osborne Field” in his honor. Osborne, who earned both his master’s degree and Ph.D. from Nebraska while he was an assistant coach, served Nebraska for three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives following his coaching career. Osborne returned to Nebraska as Athletic Director in 2007 and served five years in that role. He played an instrumental part in the Huskers’ move to the Big Ten Conference in 2011.