2023 Pitt Athletics Hall of Fame Class Unveiled

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PITTSBURGH—University of Pittsburgh Director of Athletics Heather Lyke announced today the 2023 Pitt Athletics Hall of Fame induction class, a distinguished 12-member group representing seven different sports.

 

“On behalf of the University of Pittsburgh, I am incredibly proud to announce our 2023 Pitt Athletics Hall of Fame induction class,” Lyke said. “I’m continually amazed at our wonderful history of achievement across each of our sports. This group really embodies that excellence. We are greatly looking forward to hosting them this September for their formal inductions.”

 

Nominations for the Pitt Athletics Hall of Fame were solicited from the general public. Candidates had to be five years removed from their final year of collegiate competition and not currently be playing professional sports.

 

The Pitt Athletics Hall of Fame selection committee then evaluated the candidate pool and provided a recommendation on the class to the director of athletics.

The 2023 class will receive induction at the Pitt Athletics Hall of Fame Dinner presented by PNC on Friday, Sept. 22, at the Petersen Events Center. On Saturday, Sept. 23, the inductees will be introduced at Acrisure Stadium when the Panthers take on North Carolina.

2023 Pitt Athletics Hall of Fame Class Biographies

Richard Bradshaw (Swimming and Diving Coach)

Bradshaw ranks among the most accomplished coaches in Pitt Athletics history, regardless of sport. Initially joining the Panthers as an assistant swimming coach in 1969, he would serve two tenures as head men’s coach (1971-78 and 1987-90) and also led the women’s program for six years (1975-81). In 10 seasons directing the men, Bradshaw compiled a 76-24 record (.760). In three seasons of Big East competition, he won the men’s conference title each year. As head women’s coach, he led the Panthers to a 46-8 mark (.852). In addition to sparkling team success, Bradshaw oversaw the development of 13 All-Americans and five Olympians. His list of protégées reads like a “Who’s Who” of Pitt swimming, including four-time All-Americans Kathy Stetler, Suzanne Pulley, Amy Jackson and Sue Heon, as well as two-time Big East Men’s Swimmer of the Year Mike Kozlina.

Ruben Brown (Football)

Brown was a four-year starter at offensive tackle for Pitt from 1991-94. Initially a defensive line prospect, he moved to offense as a redshirt freshman and would become a three-time All-Big East selection and, as a senior, earn first team All-America accolades. In the 1995 NFL Draft, Brown was selected in the first round (14th pick overall) by the Buffalo Bills. As an offensive guard, he was voted to eight consecutive Pro Bowls (1996-2003). Brown concluded his career by spending four seasons in Chicago (2004-07). In 2006, he was a vital contributor to the Bears’ first Super Bowl berth in nearly two decades and was named to his ninth Pro Bowl. Brown was named to Buffalo’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 2009. He received enshrinement in the College Football Hall of Fame in 2015.

Matt Cavanaugh (Football)

One of the greatest quarterbacks in Pitt history, Cavanaugh’s career (1974-77) coincided with the Panthers’ reemergence as a national power. He was the starting signal-caller during Pitt’s undefeated march to the 1976 national title, capping that magical season with an MVP performance in the Sugar Bowl, a 27-3 demolition of Georgia. Cavanaugh scored the first touchdown of the game and the celebration of that score became a Sports Illustrated cover (Jan. 10, 1977). His effective blend of passing and running made him a first team All-American as a senior in 1977. In his final collegiate game—a 34-3 win over Clemson in the Gator Bowl—Cavanaugh threw for 387 yards and four touchdowns to take home his second bowl MVP award.

A second-round selection of New England in 1978, he played five seasons (1978-82) with the Patriots before moving on to stints with the San Francisco 49ers (1983-85), Philadelphia Eagles (1986-89) and New York Giants (1990-91). Cavanaugh earned three Super Bowl rings: two as a player (with the 49ers in 1984 and the Giants in 1990) and one as an offensive coordinator (Baltimore Ravens in 2000).

Chris Doleman (Football; Posthumous)

An immediate starter upon his arrival, Doleman was a dominant defensive end for the Panthers from 1981-84. He finished his career third all-time at Pitt with 25 sacks, a total that still ranks eighth nearly four decades later. Doleman played in the Sugar, Cotton and Fiesta bowl games, while helping the Panthers earn three Top 20 finishes, including a No. 2 ranking in 1981 and No. 9 finish in 1982. The fourth-overall pick of the 1985 draft by the Minnesota Vikings, Doleman played 15 seasons in the NFL and holds status as one of the most productive pass rushers of all time. He was an eight-time Pro Bowler, three-time first team All-Pro and earned selection to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s. Upon his retirement in 1999, Doleman’s 150.5 career sacks ranked fourth in league history and he was tied for third with eight seasons in which he recorded 10 or more sacks. Doleman received his Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement in 2012.

Larry Fitzgerald (Football)

One of the most dazzling receivers to ever play the game, Fitzgerald starred at Pitt from 2002-03 before going on to a prolific pro career. In just 26 collegiate games, Fitzgerald totaled 161 catches for 2,677 yards (16.6 avg.) and a Pitt-record 34 touchdowns. He caught a touchdown in an amazing 18 consecutive games to set an NCAA record. In total, Fitzgerald set or tied four NCAA marks, eight Big East records and 11 Pitt marks. In 2003, he was a virtually unstoppable offensive weapon, compiling 92 catches for 1,672 yards (18.2 avg.) and 22 touchdowns. Facing double and even triple coverage each week, Fitzgerald still led the nation in receiving yards per game (128.62 avg.) and TD catches. He was named the 2003 Walter Camp Player of the Year, becoming the first sophomore to earn that prestigious honor. He also won the Biletnikoff Award as the country’s top receiver and was unanimously selected a first team All-American. Fitzgerald finished as the Heisman Trophy runner-up and carried three voting regions, an unprecedented achievement for a sophomore. The third overall selection in the 2004 NFL Draft, Fitzgerald spent his entire 17-year pro career with the Arizona Cardinals (2004-20). An 11-time Pro Bowler and member of the NFL 100 All-Time Team, he ranks second in NFL history in receiving yards (17,492) and receptions (1,432), and sixth with 121 TD catches.

Keith Gavin (Wrestling)

Gavin is a major part of Pitt’s rich wrestling heritage as one of just 12 men in program history to win an NCAA championship. Competing for the Panthers from 2003-08, he compiled a 120-37 (.764) record. His victory total still ranks among the top 10 all-time at Pitt. Gavin went a combined 55-4 (.932) over his final two collegiate seasons, including a 33-0 mark as a senior when he claimed the NCAA 174-pound title. He was a two-time All-American, two-time Eastern Wrestling League (EWL) champion and two-time EWL Wrestler of the Year. Gavin received enshrinement into the EWL Hall of Fame in 2013. Gavin was a member of the U.S. national team for six years, placing third at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials before winning the U.S. National Championship in 2013 and 2014. Named Pitt’s head wrestling coach in 2017, he has led the Panthers to three consecutive NCAA Top 25 finishes. Pitt placed 11th in 2021, the program’s highest final ranking since 1970. This past season, he mentored Nino Bonaccorsi, who captured the NCAA’s 197-pound title, becoming Pitt’s first national champion wrestler since Gavin in 2008.

Bobby Lewis (Baseball Coach; Posthumous) 

Lewis became synonymous with Pitt baseball, leading his alma mater’s program for 36 seasons (1955-90). When he stepped down from the head coaching position following the 1990 season, he had compiled a 438-389 record and owned the most victories by any coach in school history. Among the Major League players he coached at Pitt were pitcher George “Doc” Medich and infielder Ken Macha. Lewis also coached on the baseball diamond future Pro Football Hall of Famer Mike Ditka. In addition to coaching, Lewis was a longtime athletics administrator and served as a faculty member in Pitt’s Health, Physical Education and Recreation Department in the School of Education. Raised just a few blocks from campus, Lewis enrolled as an undergraduate at Pitt in 1948 and was a standout centerfielder, earning three varsity letters. He captained the baseball team in 1951.

Joe Luxbacher (Men’s Soccer Student-Athlete and Coach)

Luxbacher has an indelible legacy with Pitt soccer, starring as a player (1970-73) and serving 32 seasons as head coach (1984-2015). As a decorated player, he set school records for goals in a game (seven), points in a game (15), career goals (37) and career points (84). Luxbacher had a school-record four career hat tricks. He was Pitt’s captain and Most Valuable Player as a senior. Professionally, he played with the Philadelphia Atoms of the North American Soccer League (NASL) and the Pittsburgh Spirit of the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL). He has the distinction of scoring the Spirit’s first goal in franchise history. Luxbacher also played with a select team that toured Europe. After serving as a Pitt assistant in 1983, Luxbacher took over as head coach the following season and went on to compile a program-record 224 wins. A two-time Big East Coach of the Year, his 1995 team is considered one of the finest in Pitt history, winning an unprecedented 14 games, including the program’s first victory in the Big East Championship tournament. In 2000, Luxbacher directed the Panthers to 13 wins and a reached as high as No. 7 in the national polls.

Maureen McCandless (Women’s Track and Field/Cross Country)

McCandless established herself as one of the most decorated distance runners in Pitt history. Competing for the Panthers from 2002-06, she was a three-time All-American, earning national honors in cross country as well as the indoor and outdoor 5,000 meters. McCandless won two Big East individual championships (indoor 3,000 and 5,000 meters), while spurring the Panthers to three Big East team titles (2005 indoor, 2005 and 2006 outdoor). She won the 2004 NCAA Mid-Atlantic Region cross country championship and was selected the NCAA Division I Cross Country Mid-Atlantic Region Athlete of the Year. McCandless concluded her career owning no fewer than eight school records.

Suzanne Pulley-Klacik (Women’s Swimming)

Pulley-Klacik was a six-time All-American during her Pitt career from 1978-81. She earned those accolades as part of the Panthers’ 400 free relay (three times), 200 free relay, 800 free relay and 200 medley relay. She became just the second women’s swimmer at Pitt to earn All-America status in each of her four collegiate seasons (joining fellow Pitt Hall of Famer Kathy Stetler). Pulley-Klacik also was the 1979 Eastern champion in the 100 individual medley. She earned All-East in 1979, 1980 and 1981.

Clive Vaughan (Men’s Basketball)

Described by legendary coach Lou Carnesecca as “one of the best shooters I’ve seen” and a rebounder “like someone 6-9 or 6-10,” Vaughan ushered Pitt basketball into the Big East Conference and gained stature as one of Pitt’s unforgettable greats. Standing a shade under 6-5, Vaughan played much larger. He led the Panthers in both scoring and rebounding in each of his final three seasons (1981-84). Vaughan was an important contributor to the first two basketball tournament titles in school history—the 1981 and 1982 Eastern 8 Tournament championships. In the latter, he was named tournament MVP and scored 21 points in the championship game, a 79-72 win over rival West Virginia. When Pitt moved to the higher-profile Big East for the 1982-83 season, Vaughan elevated his game to the next level, averaging 21 points as both a junior and senior. He finished his career as Pitt’s all-time leading scorer with 2,033 points and currently ranks second (a mere 12 points behind leader Charles Smith’s 2,045).

Allison Williams-Murphy (Women’s Track and Field)

Williams-Murphy was a highly decorated hurdler at both the conference and national levels during her Pitt career (1989-94). She was a seven-time Big East champion, winning the indoor 55-meter hurdles four times, the outdoor 100-meter hurdles twice and also earning gold as part of the outdoor 1,600-meter relay team. Her performances helped lead the Panthers to three Big East outdoor team championships. On the NCAA stage, Williams-Murphy was a three-time outdoor All-American. She was a two-time All-American in the 100-meter hurdles and also as a member of the 1,600-meter relay. Following her final collegiate season, Williams-Murphy was honored as Pennsylvania’s NCAA Woman of the Year.

Source: E.J. Borghetti/Pitt Athletics

Image: Instagram/pitt_athletics