Wednesday, August 31, 2011

University of Memphis Hall of Fame Grand Opening

The crowd that gathered Tuesday evening at 570 Normal included University of Memphis fans, boosters, former student-athletes and civic leaders.

Dr. Kenneth Whalum Jr., a Memphis City Schools board member, was among them. So was U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, former Tigers point guard Andre Turner and longtime boosters Charles Rafael and his wife, Rebecca Dinstuhl.

All of them had come to see the grand opening of the University of Memphis Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway Athletics Hall of Fame.

Penny Hardaway, who donated $1 million to help fund the 30,000-square-foot addition to the Athletic Office Building, was joined at the ribbon-cutting ceremony by U of M president Shirley Raines, athletic director R.C. Johnson and associate athletic director Bob Winn.

"It's all about dreaming, and first of all God for even allowing this to happen," Hardaway said. "I mean, I lived out an unbelievable dream, and now I'm able to bless some people that have helped me along the way.

"The University of Memphis has been a huge part of my life, and I'm so happy to be a part of giving back to the University and seeing my name on a building on the University of Memphis campus."

Inside were exhibits spanning 100 years of Tigers athletics.

There was a basketball jersey worn by Herb Hilliard, the first black scholarship athlete in UofM history. There was a piece of the goalpost torn down by UofM fans in 1996 after the Tigers' 21-17 upset of a Peyton Manning-led Tennessee team at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. There were the remains of former Tigers mascots Tom I (1973-1992) and Tom II (1991-2008).

The walls of the building were dedicated to former Tigers coaching greats, such as Billy Murphy, Gene Bartow and Larry Finch, and former All-Americans, like Hardaway, Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts.

Click here for complete Commercial Appeal story

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