Inaugural HPU Hall Of Fame Induction Set For Sunday

Posted by Press Release on June 2, 2015 at 3:15 pm under College | Comments are off for this article

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The inaugural eight member class of the High Point University Athletics Hall of Fame will be inducted in a special ceremony Sunday, June 7, inside the Millis Center.

The inaugural High Point University Athletics Hall of Fame class was announced in March 2015. The group includes Andreia Blanchard (’81, basketball), Dick Culler (’36, baseball/basketball/soccer), Karen Curtis (’98, basketball), Bob Davidson (’55, cross country/track head coach), Otis Foster (’75, baseball), Gene Littles (’69, basketball), Brian Payne (’93, track & field) and Jerry Steele (men’s basketball head coach/HPU athletic director).

For more information on each inductee, see the individual capsules included below.

Andreia Blanchard ’81 – Women’s Basketball
One of the first female stars in HPU athletics history, Andreia Blanchard ranks second on High Point University’s all-time scoring list with 2,374 points and led HPU to the school’s only national championship, the 1977-78 AIAW crown. A three-time All-American, she is one of just two 2,000 point scorers in school history and is tied for the single-season rebounding record with 403 in 1978-79. HPU’s all-time leader in career field goals made (1,035), Blanchard also is first all-time in single-season field goals made (331) and single-game field goals made (18 vs. VCU, 1981). Over her four seasons, Blanchard led HPU to a 107-30 record, including a school record 33 wins during the national title season.

Dick Culler ’36 – Men’s Basketball, Soccer, Baseball
Arguably the greatest all-around athlete in school history, Dick Culler played basketball, soccer and baseball for High Point College in the 1930s. He served as captain of the basketball team and his No. 9 jersey in basketball is the first-ever retired at High Point. Culler also served as a player-coach for the men’s soccer team and played as a pitcher and an infielder for the baseball team. He was the first freshman to be named to an All-Conference team and was named the most outstanding athlete in High Point College’s history at his graduation. Culler played in 472 Major League Baseball games as a shortstop for the Philadelphia Athletics, Chicago White Sox, Boston Braves, Chicago Cubs and New York Giants from 1936-1949. He totaled 1,527 at bats, 195 runs, 372 hits, 39 doubles, six triples, two home runs, 99 RBI, 19 stolen bases and 166 walks with a .244 batting average, a .320 on-base percentage and a .281 slugging percentage. Culler was named to the Guilford County Hall of Fame in 2009.

Karen Curtis ’98 – Women’s Basketball
A true Panther with an HPU career that spanned two decades, Karen Curtis holds High Point’s all-time records in career scoring (2,612), single-season scoring (778), career points per game (22.7), single-season points per game (25.1) and career assists (645). She also ranks fifth all-time in rebounds with 904. A two-time Kodak All-American, Curtis also was a three-time Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference (CVAC) Tournament MVP. She was later named to the All-Time CVAC Women’s Basketball Team. Curtis played professionally in Switzerland from 1998 to 2000 where she averaged 25 points per game as a point guard. After her playing career, she returned to campus to serve as HPU’s lead assistant and recruiting coordinator for seven seasons from 2004-11. The Panthers posted an overall record of 118-94 during her seven seasons with a 65-37 record in Big South play. During Curtis’ tenure, the Panthers won the Big South regular season title in 2006-07 and earned the program’s first-ever bid to the WNIT.

Bob Davidson ’55 – Men’s Basketball, Baseball
Head Coach: XC & Track
A true coaching legend, Bob Davidson served as head coach of the HPU men’s and later women’s cross country and track programs for a school-record 39 seasons. He is still the longest tenured coach in High Point’s history. He was selected as men’s and women’s track & field Coach of the Year 21 times and Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference Coach of the Year twice (1994, 1995). Davidson also earned Carolinas Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year honors 11 times and was named NAIA District 26 Coach of the Year on eight occasions. HPU cross country teams won 18 conference championships during his tenure – including men’s and women’s titles in 1997 – while men’s track won 14 conference and division titles. Davidson also was a member of the faculty at HPU and taught exercise science, physical education and sport training classes. He was given the Meredith Slane Teacher of the Year Award (1988), which is one of the highest academic honors bestowed at High Point University. As a student at HPU, Davidson was captain of the HPU men’s basketball team from 1951-54 and was a member of two conference championship teams. Davidson also played shortstop for the baseball team in 1951-52 and went on to play professional baseball for two seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies and Milwaukee Brewers organizations.

Otis Foster ’75 – Baseball
Otis Foster was a sensational slugger that hit towering home runs and always seemed to come through with the big hit. He holds the HPU all-time career records in RBI (166), home runs (60) and slugging percentage (.837) and is second in career batting average (.380). In the single season annals, Foster has claimed the High Point University top spots for batting average (.476), hits (78), runs (65), RBI (76), home runs (30) and slugging percentage (1.116). During his time with the Purple & White, High Point achieved great success, posting records of 32-11, 32-10 and 42-6 from 1973-75. The team advanced to the NAIA National Tournament in his freshman season. A player that comes around once in a generation, Foster became the first and only High Point College/University baseball player selected in the first round of the Major League Baseball Draft in 1975. Foster was selected with the 15th overall pick by the Boston Red Sox. Foster played in the Red Sox organization for five seasons, including a pair of stints with Triple-A Pawtucket. He was named to the Guilford County Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.

Gene Littles ’69 – Men’s Basketball
High Point University’s all-time leading scorer with 2,398 career points, Gene Littles is one of just three 2,000 point scorers in school history. He ranks second all-time at High Point in points per game and led the Panthers in scoring in 1965-66 (23.5 ppg), 1966-67 (23.4), 1967-68 (22.5) and 1968-69 (23.4). A great all-around player, Littles also ranks eighth in school history with 773 career rebounds and is HPU’s all-time leader in field goals made (881), field goals attempted (1,773), free throws made (650) and free throws attempted (871). Upon graduation, Littles was selected in the fifth round of the 1969 NBA Draft by the New York Knicks. He played six seasons in the ABA with the Carolina Cougars and the Kentucky Colonels. After his playing career was finished, Littles enjoyed a 20-year coaching career in both the collegiate and professional ranks. He served as the head coach at North Carolina A&T from 1977-79 and led the Aggies to back-to-back MEAC titles. He also put together a trio of NBA coaching stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers (1985-86), Charlotte Hornets (1990-91) and also led the Denver Nuggets during an interim stint in 1994-95. Littles was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 2015 and the Guilford County Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.

Brian Payne ’93 – Track & Field
Brian Payne starred for Bob Davidson throughout his career on the track at High Point. Payne’s specialty was in hurdling, where he set standard after standard for the Purple & White. Payne was a two-time NAIA National Champion in the 110m hurdles, capturing the outdoor crown in both 1990 and 1991. He also won an individual national title in the 55m hurdles during the 1993 indoor NAIA National Championship. In addition to these elite performances, Payne also earned a pair of NAIA national runner-up finishes in the 400m hurdles in 1991 and 1993. He set the High Point indoor 55m hurdles school record (7.42) during his 1993 national title race that still stands today. Payne also holds current HPU outdoor records in the 110m hurdles (13.98) and 400m hurdles (51.30). In addition to his High Point diploma, Payne earned his master’s degree in divinity from Howard University in 2004.

Jerry Steele – Head Coach: Men’s Basketball
Athletic Director, 1972-1998
A man who literally built the High Point athletic department from the ground up, Jerry Steele was a prominent figure in every era of the University’s athletics history. Steele served as head coach of the HPU men’s basketball program for a school-record 31 seasons from 1972-2003. He is High Point’s all-time winningest coach with a career record of 458-412 (.526). He guided the Panthers to eight conference titles and appearances in both the NAIA and NCAA Division II National Tournaments. Steele also led HPU during its transition to Division I and guided the Panthers for the first four seasons of the DI era. Jerry was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame in 1986, the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 2002 and was a member of the inaugural Guilford County Sports Hall of Fame class in 2005. Between Guilford College and High Point, he won 608 games in his career as a collegiate coach. During a career which spanned four decades, Steele also served as HPU Director of Athletics from 1972-98. As AD, he led the Panthers to the Joby Hawn Cup – awarded to the best overall athletic program in the Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference – 12 times from 1975-1996. Steele played his college basketball at Wake Forest, where he served as co-captain of the Demon Deacons 1961 ACC Championship team.


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