Honoring a storied past

By MEAC Media Relations
Updated: January 21, 2011

NORFOLK, Va. — The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) has announced the five members of its’ 2011 Hall of Fame Class that will be honored during a brunch on Friday, March 11, beginning at 9 a.m. at the M.C. Benton, Jr. Convention Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

“We are thrilled to recognize another class of remarkable inductees who have made a considerable impact to their communities, institutions and our conference,” said Dennis E. Thomas, MEAC Commissioner.

“I’d like to applaud the Hall of Fame Class for all of their achievements both athletically and professionally.” The Hall of Fame class will be honored in conjunction with the 2011 MEAC Basketball Tournament, held March 7-12 at the Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem.

A limited number of tickets are available for the induction brunch at $30 per seat or $275 per table (10 persons). Tickets can be purchased by calling the MEAC Office at 757-951-2055.

The MEAC Hall of Fame includes former student-athletes, coaches, university and/or conference administrators as well as special contributors, who have enriched the legacy of the conference since its inception in 1969.

Enshrinees were selected by an 11-person committee made up of administrators from member institutions. The first Hall of Fame class was inducted on May 29, 1981, during a 10-year anniversary banquet in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Since its establishment, the Hall of Fame has enshrined 108 people, including the Class of 2011.

Inducted as a Student-Athlete:

Earl Holmes, Florida A&M played for the Rattlers from 1992 to 1995, finishing as the school’s all-time leader in tackles. Holmes, a three-time All-MEAC First Team selection, holds the school record with 509 total tackles (309 solo). During his senior season, he set school marks for solo tackles (103) and total tackles (171). He captured the NCAA Division I-AA and Black College All-American honors in 1994 and 1995. The 1995 MEAC Defensive Player of the Year and Sheridan Broadcasting Network College Defensive Player of the Year, Holmes was selected in the fourth round of the 1996 National Football League (NFL) draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He played 10 seasons in the NFL as a member of the Steelers (1996-2001), Cleveland Browns (2002) and Detroit Lions (2003-05) before retiring. Holmes currently serves as the Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers coach at his alma mater.

Stephen Stewart, Coppin State guided the Eagles to a 1993 MEAC Tournament title and was named the MEAC Tournament Outstanding Performer in his rookie season. He earned back-to-back MEAC Player of the Year honors (1994, 1995) and helped lead the Eagles to the NCAA Tournament in 1993 and the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) in 1995. The forward scored 19 points against St. Joseph’s in the NIT aiding Coppin State in its first-ever postseason victory. Stewart ranks eighth all-time in scoring at Coppin State with 1,393 points and seventh with 546 rebounds. The 1993 MEAC Rookie of the Year Stewart earned All-MEAC First Team honors in 1994 and 1995. He joins his brother Larry, another former standout at Coppin State, who was inducted in the MEAC Hall of Fame in 2005.

Natalie White, Florida A&M played point guard for the Lady Rattlers, helping them to two regular season MEAC titles (1994, 1995) and the 1995 MEAC Tournament crown. During her career, FAMU earned its’ first-ever NCAA Tournament bid (1995). White holds the NCAA Division I record as the all-time steals’ leader (624) and is second all-time in the school record books in assists (497). She led the nation in steals as a freshman (143), junior (172) and senior (191). The 1995 MEAC Player of the Year White still holds the NCAA record for total steals as freshman. The guard earned All-MEAC First Team honors in 1993-1995. She was also a four-time Black College All-America recipient (1992-95).White currently serves as an Account Executive/Dream Ambassadors Coordinator for the Women’s National Basketball Association’s (WNBA) Atlanta Dream.

Inducted as a Head Coach:

James Phillips, Morgan State guided the Bears to 13 MEAC wrestling championships from 1985-1994. Under his helm, over 75 wrestlers were named All-Americans and two earned NCAA Division II National titles. He earned MEAC Outstanding Coach accolades 12 times and was the only Head Wrestling Coach from a Historical Black College or University (HBCU) to host a NCAA Eastern wrestling regional in 1984.

Phillips was also the Head Coach of the Morgan State football team from 1983-84. On the field, Phillips competed as a member of MSU’s football team from 1963-65 and played professionally in the Canadian Football League (CFL) for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Phillips retired from Morgan State in 2004 after serving for more than 30 years as an assistant professor in the Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation.

Sanya Tyler, Howard became the Lady Bison’s first full-time women’s basketball coach in 1980. Under her tutelage, the Lady Bison earned five MEAC regular-season titles, nine MEAC tournament titles and eclipsed nearly 300 victories. In her first season at the helm, Howard became the first MEAC women’s team to participate in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. In addition to the 1982 NCAA appearance the Bison earned berths in 1996-1998. She was the first MEAC women’s basketball coach to have victories over an Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) opponent (North Carolina State). The eight-time MEAC Outstanding Coach and 1994 MEAC Coach of the Year coached five MEAC Players of the Year, seven MEAC Outstanding Performers and was the first coach in MEAC history to have a player drafted in the WNBA. Tyler was inducted into Howard University’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1998.