DALLAS – As part of its 25th season celebration, Conference USA announced today its inaugural Hall of Fame Class. The 25-person class is comprised of 20 student-athletes, three coaches and two administrators. The initial class includes former southern Miss student-athletes Courtney Blades (softball) and Tori Bowie (track and field), as well as former Golden Eagle football coach Jeff Bower.
“We are very pleased to honor this outstanding group for their many lasting contributions to their universities and to Conference USA,” said Judy MacLeod, Conference USA Commissioner. “They have provided many outstanding achievements and memories and we are proud to recognize their lasting legacy to our conference.”
The inaugural C-USA Hall of Fame class features student-athletes and coaches from 13 different sports. Eleven of the eligible schools (those who were members of C-USA prior to the summer of 2013 for this class) are represented. Five different schools (Cincinnati, Houston, Rice, Southern Miss and UAB) lead the way with three representatives in the inaugural group.
Criteria to be eligible for the Hall of Fame includes the following:
*A minimum of two years played for student-athletes, minimum five years served for
coaches/administrators (coaches/administrators in current roles are eligible)
*Student-athletes are only eligible five years after their last C-USA competition
*Considerations for student-athletes will be based on but not limited to All-America selections and
national honors, C-USA superlative awards, academic standing and off-the-field contributions
*Considerations for coaches/administrators will be based on contributions to C-USA as a whole
A Committee has been put in place to select nominees and the league’s Athletics Directors serve as the voting panel for the C-USA Hall of Fame.
In the future, the C-USA Hall of Fame class size will be a minimum of one inductee and a maximum of five inductees per year.
Initial nominees not selected in this class will remain on the ballot for future years.
INAUGURAL CONFERENCE USA HALL OF FAME CLASS
Athlete School Sport
Courtney Blades Southern Miss Softball (1999-2000)
-2000 Honda Award (National Softball Player of the Year) and two-time First Team All-American
-Was first Division I player to record 600 strikeouts in a season; finished her career as Div. 1 all-time leader in K’s
-Guided Southern Miss to the 2000 C-USA regular season and postseason titles
-Led Southern Miss to back-to-back College World Series appearances (2000, 1999)
Tori Bowie Southern Miss Track & Field (2009-12)
-2011 and 2012 C-USA Field Athlete of the Year
-Two-time NCAA long jump champion, winning indoors and outdoors in 2011. She holds the school records for the long jump and was also NCAA runner-up outdoors in 2012
-Post collegiate career, she competed for USA in the 2016 Summer Olympics, winning silver medal in 100-meter, bronze medal in 200-meter dash and a gold medal as a member of the 4x100-meter relay team
Person School Sport
Jeff Bower Southern Miss Football (1995-2007)
-Led Southern Miss to five first place finishes and three outright championships in 12 seasons in C-USA
-Guided Southern Miss to winning records in all 12 seasons in C-USA, making 10 bowl appearances, including a pair of Liberty Bowl victories as league champion (1999, 1997); had 14 straight winning seasons at USM
-Three-time C-USA Coach of the Year (2003, 1999, 1997); C-USA Football Coach of the Decade (1995-2004)
-Post coaching career, served three years as a member of the CFP selection committee (2018, 2017, 2016)
About Conference USA
Conference USA is an NCAA Division I athletic conference based in Dallas, Texas, that services 14 institutions of higher education – Charlotte, FIU, Florida Atlantic, Louisiana Tech, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Old Dominion, Rice, Southern Miss, UAB, UTEP, UTSA and WKU. Now in its third decade, Conference USA has adapted to the ever-changing landscape of collegiate athletics with an unwavering commitment to excellence, integrity and leadership in competition, academics and community.