Blazer to Become 36th Member of UU Athletic Hall of Fame
URBANA, Ohio (July 10, 2012) – Urbana University announced plans to induct former coach, administrator and faculty member Bill Blazer into the Athletic Hall of Fame this February. For nearly two decades, Blazer’s dedication to the University was unmatched as he served the campus in many different capacities. For his efforts, he will become the 36th member enshrined into the Urbana University Athletic Hall of Fame on Saturday, February 2nd after a home Blue Knight basketball doubleheader.
Dave Ross, a 1976 graduate of Urbana and current University Trustee and Hall of Fame Chairman, administered the nomination and selection process.
"During the selection process, our committee heard many glowing multi-faceted testimonials about Bill's service to Urbana University as a faculty member, coach, and administrator,” explained Ross. “He touched our institution and its constituents in many positive ways."
Blazer’s Blue Knight career began as an instructor in business in 1990. Over the next 15 years, he taught as an assistant and associate professor. In 1993, Blazer began his foray into the athletics department, taking over as head coach of the men’s golf program.
Under Blazer’s guidance, the Blue Knight men’s golf team experienced unprecedented success. His 11-year reign as head coach featured a .726 team winning percentage. The Blue Knights posted a team record of 326-120-10 over that time, including a school-best 92-6 campaign in 2001-02. Five Blue Knight golfers earned first team all-conference honors under Blazer. Five more earned academic all-conference recognition, including three NAIA Academic All-Americans.
The Urbana University men’s golf program has competed for over four decades, dating back to the 1970’s. Over that time, Blue Knights have recorded 29 rounds of even par or better in competition. Eighteen of those rounds occurred on Blazer’s watch. Four more have occurred in the last year under current Head Coach Jerome Armstrong, who was recruited and played for Blazer in 1993-94.
“When Coach Blazer took over the golf team in the fall of 1993, the program was struggling,” explains Armstrong. “The team had just three golfers with high school experience. A Blue Knight baseball player and a football player helped him fill his roster in that first season, but due to his dedication, Bill turned the program into a successful one in a very short amount of time.”
Blue Knight golfer Miles Nixon was another successful Blazer recruit. Nixon enjoyed the most successful career in the program’s history. After shooting a school record 68 in 2002 and graduating as an all-conference player for the third time in four years, Nixon enjoyed a successful stint as a professional caddy. Just three years after graduating, Nixon was on the bag for LPGA golfer Birdie Kim as she claimed the 2005 U.S. Open Championship.
“Coach Blazer treated his team as a family,” recounts Nixon. “Throughout my four years at Urbana, I looked to Coach Blazer for guidance. He always made the time and helped me believe in myself. I will always think of him as a member of my family. He will make a great addition to the Hall of Fame.”
According to Armstrong, “Bill deserves to be inducted not just for his accomplishments with the men’s golf program, but also for his overall dedication to the University, its athletic department, and the countless student-athletes he helped mentor during his tenure.”
Blazer’s impact to the athletic department wasn’t limited to the men’s golf program. He served as an assistant athletic director for three years before earning a promotion to Athletic Director in 1996. Every one of the Urbana athletic programs thrived during Blazer’s era. The Blue Knight men’s and women’s basketball teams made national tournament appearances. The basketball teams, as well as the baseball, softball, and volleyball teams, set school records for wins in a season. All but baseball’s still stand today. The football program recorded its first .500 season in 1998, the same year Blazer spearheaded efforts to bring the men’s and women’s soccer programs back to UU.
Blazer’s run at Urbana ended in 2004 when he became the Athletic Director at nearby Ohio Dominican University. There, Blazer continued his successful campaign by following Urbana’s lead and guiding the Panthers from the NAIA to NCAA Division II. In 2008 and 2009, Blazer earned Athletic Director of the Year awards from both the NAIA and the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics.
Current Urbana University Athletic Director Doug Young attributes Blazer for laying the groundwork for many of the University’s recent triumphs.
“Bill has been a tremendous friend and mentor to me over the years,” said Young upon the announcement of Blazer’s selection for induction. “His influence has been positive and rewarding, both inside and outside the athletics world.”
The induction of Bill Blazer will take place following a Blue Knight women’s and men’s basketball doubleheader on Saturday, February 2nd. Both squads meet new G-MAC conference foe Trevecca Nazarene University. The women’s game tips off at 1:00 p.m., followed by the men’s contest at 3:00 p.m. The induction ceremony is scheduled to begin 45 minutes after the men’s game in the Urbana University Student Center.
If you know someone who you believe would make an excellent candidate for future consideration for the Urbana University Athletic Hall of Fame, visit http://sports.urbana.edu/support/hall-of-fame.html for more information on the nomination process.