Continuing a long legacy

By CIAA Media Relations
Updated: January 17, 2011

HAMPTON, Va. — The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) welcomes seven individuals as its 2011 class of inductees into the John B. McLendon, Jr. Hall of Fame.

The honorees will officially be enshrined on Friday, March 4, 2011 at the Charlotte Convention Center at 11 a.m. — as part of the CIAA Tournament’s week of events. This year’s class is filled with star-power, exceptional talent and inspiring dedication to the conference through corporate support.

Anita Cooper Epps led the Lady Pirates Basketball Team to two Virginia Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (VAIAW) state championships; a CIAA tournament title, and to two appearances in the NCAA Division II national tournament. At the end of the 1986 season, Epps was named Kodak first team All-American and the American Women’s Sports Foundation’s Regional Player of the Year. She was voted to the All-CIAA team for the second time, captured Kodak All-District III honors and was named to the first team All-America by the Black College Sports Information Directors Association and made the National Association for Women’s Sports All-America team. She currently holds the Hampton University career field goal record with a percentage of .542, is second in career field goals with 762 and is third in the Hampton University record book for career scoring with 1,795 points.

Dr. Paulette Walker Johnson spent 30 years coaching the nationally recognized Virginia State University “Woo-Woos” Cheering Squad. Setting the standard for HBCU cheering programs, the Woo Woos and Dr. Johnson have been featured on the BET television network, Urban Sports Network, ESPN and have had numerous appearances on locally based television stations. In the 1990’s the squad performed at a boxing match staged by the legendary promoter Don King. In 1999, the Mayor of the City of Petersburg established “Dr.

Paulette Walker Johnson Day”. Johnson is noted as the first female athletic director in VSU history and coached the VSU softball team to win its first CIAA Softball Championship. In the conference she was the first president and founder of the CIAA Cheerleader Coaches Association. She is 2003 inductee of the VSU Wall of Fame.

Gregory Hines is a four- year starter and men’s basketball letterman (1979-1983) for Hampton University. He is the university’s second all-time scorer with 1,967 points and rebounder (1,254). Hines is ranked in the Top 30 of CIAA All-time career scorers and is 11th in CIAA career rebounding. He has been named as a three time All-American; CIAA Rookie of the Year (1980); CIAA MVP (1982), and is a member of both the 1982 and 1983 CIAA Championship teams. Even after his years as a Pirate, Mr. Hines continued to excel in his sport as an NBA draft choice for the Golden State Warriors. His professional sports career spanned for more than 12 years and included playing in Europe, South America, Canada, Mexico, and Israel. Gregory Hines was inducted into the Hampton University Hall of Fame in 2009.

Charlie Neal began his broadcasting career over 30 years ago as a radio disc jockey before turning to television as a sportscaster, working for several affiliates in the Detroit, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

markets. In 1980, Charlie Neal commentated the first nationally televised regular season CIAA Basketball game and became the television voice and face of Black College Sports. Neal and Black Entertainment Television (BET) provided a platform to bring the CIAA into American homes. Neal became a part of the CIAA by serving as an emcee for tip-off banquets and refereeing CIAA All-Star games.

Yancey Thigpen was named to the All-CIAA Football teams of 1989 and 1990. He was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the 4th round of the 1991 NFL Draft. After being drafted, he spent six seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers (1992-97); breaking and recording several records which are still unbroken today. As a Steeler, he was a Pro Bowl alternate on special teams before emerging as one of the best receivers in the NFL.

This two-time Pro Bowl honoree and most sought after free agent wide receiver, signed with the Tennessee Oilers; becoming the highest paid wide receiver in the league. Thigpen spent the next three years with the Oilers, assisting them in reaching the Super Bowl. Yancey Thigpen retired after the 2000 season with 313 career receptions for 5,081 yards and 30 touchdowns. He also rushed for four yards, returned two punts for 30 yards and gained 188 yards on eight kickoff returns.

Richard Franklin, Coca-Cola’s then African-American Consumer Marketing Manager, managed its corporate sponsor relationship with Commissioner Leon Kerry for a span of 18+ years. In 1998, he was involved in securing the first HBCU Conference $2 million dollar sponsorship commitment with the CIAA. He was also able to secure the first tournament visit of a Fortune 500 company president with the tournament participation of Coca-Cola Company President Jack Stahl. In 2003, he was instrumental in renewing the commitment for $3 million dollars and five more years. Under his guidance, Coca-Cola initiated numerous marketing programs such as the Ball Boy/Ball Girl program, the Slam Dunk Competition, the CIAA Step Show, High School Day sponsorship, the men’s and women’s tournament championship awards presentation, the Big House Gaines Men’s Commemorative Championship Trophy and the Football Championship MVP trophies and hospitality tent.

James Morgan holds the CIAA Basketball Career rebounding record with 1,741 rebounds (1967-70). While starring at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), he was a member of the CIAA’s first undefeated regular season basketball team in 1969-70, with a regular season record of 29-0. Morgan was named to the All-CIAA team in 1970 and the CIAA All-Tournament Team 1969 and 1970, where he was second in the NAIA in rebounds during the 1967-68 season (23.3). He played in the NAIA quarter finals in 1970 and was a 7th round draft pick for the Seattle Supersonics; but played in the Continental Basketball Association. Morgan was inducted into the UMES Hall of Fame in 1984.