Pitt Athletics Hall of Fame Reveals Class of 2024

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PITTSBURGH—The Pitt Athletics Hall of Fame will enshrine 10 new members in its 2024 induction class, it was announced today by the Panthers’ Director of Athletics Heather Lyke.

The honorees, who will receive induction at the Pitt Athletics Hall of Fame Dinner presented by PNC on Friday, Sept. 13, at the Petersen Events Center, are:

  • DeJuan Blair (Men’s Basketball)
  • Dick Groat (Broadcaster; Posthumous)
  • Bill Hillgrove (Broadcaster)
  • Amy Jackson (Women’s Swimming)
  • Brianna Kiesel (Women’s Basketball)
  • George McLaren (Football; Posthumous)
  • Jamie Pelusi (Women’s Soccer)
  • Darrelle Revis (Football)
  • Al Romano (Football)
  • Steve Lewis (Track and Field Coach; Posthumous)

“Our Hall of Fame classes annually showcase not only the greatest athletes in Pitt history but also the very best to ever compete in their respective sports,” Lyke said. “These ten honorees embody that same legendary excellence.

“This class features iconic performers representing six different sports and, for the first time ever, the field of broadcasting. Their achievements truly inspire Pitt pride and we look forward to celebrating their richly deserved inductions this fall.”

In addition to the Sept. 13 induction dinner, the inductees will be introduced at Acrisure Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 14, when the Panthers take on historic rival West Virginia.

“The Pitt Athletics Hall of Fame induction dinner has become one of Western Pennsylvania’s must-attend events,” Lyke said. “We look forward to celebrating our honorees in style with our guests.”

Nominations for the Pitt Athletics Hall of Fame were solicited from the general public. Candidates must 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.

2024 Pitt Athletics Hall of Fame Class Biographies

DeJuan Blair | Men’s Basketball | 2007-09

A product of Pittsburgh’s historic Hill District who lived a mere 600 yards from the Petersen Events Center, Blair is one of the most dominant and decorated players in the history of Pitt basketball. A 6-foot-7 center, he bullied taller opponents with a rugged and relentless style. Blair averaged a double-double (15.7 points and 12.3 rebounds) during his final collegiate season, leading the Panthers to a 31-5 record and the Elite Eight of the 2009 NCAA Tournament. Pitt twice ascended to its first-ever No. 1 national ranking that season. Blair was a 2009 consensus All-American—becoming the first Pitt basketball player to earn that stature since Don Hennon in 1959—and the Big East’s Co-Player of the Year. He burst onto the scene as a freshman, averaging 11.6 points and 9.1 boards, to earn 2008 Big East Co-Rookie of the Year and Freshman All-America accolades. Blair’s play lifted Pitt to the 2008 Big East Tournament title. He was selected by the San Antonio Spurs in the 2009 NBA Draft and later played with the Dallas Mavericks and Washington Wizards over a seven-year pro career.

Bill Hillgrove and Dick Groat (Posthumous) | Broadcasters

Hillgrove and Groat formed one of the most beloved sports broadcasting duos in Pittsburgh history, calling Pitt men’s basketball games on the radio from 1979 to 2019. Reflecting their iconic status, Hillgrove and Groat are the first inductees into the Pitt Athletics Hall of Fame who did not play or coach for the Panthers. Hillgrove has been the play-by-play voice for Pitt basketball since 1969. He was Pitt football’s color analyst from 1970-73 before taking over play-by-play duties for the 1974 season. Hillgrove has received three of the most prestigious awards in sports broadcasting: the Lindsey Nelson Award, Chris Schenkel Award and Woody Durham Voice of College Sports Award. Groat is one of Western Pennsylvania’s greatest multi-sport athletes. He was a college basketball All-American at Duke and the 1960 National League MVP and N.L. batting champion with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Groat was recruited by Hillgrove to serve as his analyst for Pitt basketball broadcasts prior to the 1979-80 season. They served together for 40 seasons, providing the soundtrack for some of the most thrilling moments in the history of Pitt basketball.

Amy Jackson | Women’s Swimming | 1978-82
Jackson became one of the most decorated athletes in Pitt history regardless of sport. She was a four-year All-American, becoming at that time just the fourth Pitt athlete to accomplish the feat (joining football’s Tony Dorsett and fellow women’s swimmers Kathy Stetler and Suzanne Pulley). Jackson earned All-America citations in an incredible 20 events: the 50-yard butterfly (twice); 100-yard butterfly (four); 200-yard butterfly (once); 100-yard freestyle (twice); 200-yard freestyle (twice); 200-yard free relay (once); 400-yard free relay (four); 800-yard free relay (three); and 400-yard medley relay (once). She also captured Eastern championships in the 50 butterfly, 100 butterfly, 200 freestyle and 400 free relay. Her name is inscribed on the Varsity Walk as a recipient of the prestigious Blue-Gold Award.

Brianna Kiesel | Women’s Basketball | 2011-15

Kiesel is one of the most versatile and prolific talents to ever step on a basketball court at Pitt. The lightning-quick guard became the only player in Pitt women’s basketball history to compile at least 1,500 points, 500 rebounds and 400 assists in a career. Moreover, Kiesel is the only player to lead Pitt in scoring and assists in four consecutive seasons. Starting all 122 games of her career, she averaged 15.9 points and posted at least 20 points in 42 contests. As a senior, she led the Panthers to the NCAA Tournament while averaging a career-high 18.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists. She was a 2015 first-team All-ACC honoree and was also named to the ACC’s All-Defensive Team that season. In addition to her excellence on the court, Kiesel was a three-time All-Academic honoree, earning the honor twice in the ACC (2014-15) and once in the Big East (2013). She became just the second female student-athlete to win the Panther Award and Blue-Gold Award, etching her name twice on Pitt’s prestigious Varsity Walk. Kiesel was selected in 2015 WNBA Draft by the Tulsa Shock—just the second Pitt player ever drafted—and played six professional seasons, including time overseas in Poland, Sweden, Hungary and Israel.

George McLaren (Posthumous) | Football | 1915-18

Playing under legendary coach Glenn “Pop” Warner at Pitt, McLaren was a hard-charging fullback who was never thrown for a loss in four varsity seasons. His 91-yard touchdown run against Syracuse in 1917 stood as the Pitt record for 100 years. McLaren was twice selected a first team All-American (1917-18), earning consensus status in 1918. Pitt went a combined 30-1 during his career, including three undefeated seasons (1915-17). His 1916 and 1918 squads were unanimously selected national champions. McLaren was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1965.

Jamie Pelusi | Women’s Soccer | 2002-05

Pelusi established herself as the standard-bearer for Pitt goalkeepers. Starting 53 consecutive games at the position, she finished her career as the Panthers’ all-time leader in saves (456), save percentage (.786), goals against average (1.75), shutouts (13) and wins (19). Nearly two decades following her final collegiate contest, she still ranks first in saves, second in save percentage, shutouts and wins, and fourth in goals against average. Pelusi was a two-time All-Big East honoree and the conference’s 2004 Goalkeeper of the Year. An accomplished student, she earned Big East All-Academic recognition each of her four seasons. As a senior, Pelusi was awarded the Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup, a prestigious national honor presented to an athlete who displays excellence on and off the field and proved to be a role model as an athletic performer and person. Her name is inscribed on the Varsity Walk as a recipient of the prestigious Blue-Gold Award.

Darrelle Revis | Football | 2004-06

The man who became known as “Revis Island” for his ability to blanket NFL receivers in man-to-man coverage displayed that same dominance at Pitt. Recruited out of nearby Aliquippa—a longtime talent pipeline for Pitt—Revis was an instant impact performer beginning in 2004. He earned Freshman All-America status while helping the Panthers to the Big East title and a Fiesta Bowl berth, Pitt’s first Bowl Championship Series (BCS) bid. Over three collegiate seasons, he played in all 35 games and made 34 starts. Revis was a two-time first-team All-Big East cornerback who also shined as a punt returner. He scored five touchdowns at Pitt—three on interceptions and two via punt returns. Perhaps his most memorable collegiate play was a dazzling 73-yard punt return TD against West Virginia that was selected ESPN’s 2006 “College Football Play of the Year.” Revis was a first-round NFL Draft selection of the New York Jets in 2007. Over 11 NFL seasons, he was a seven-time Pro Bowler and four-time first team All-Pro. In 2023, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Al Romano | Football | 1973-76

A member of Johnny Majors’ first Pitt recruiting class in 1973, Romano helped build the foundation that produced one of the most dramatic turnarounds in college football history. Over his four seasons, the Panthers rose from Eastern doormat to undefeated national champions. A nose tackle who played figuratively and literally at the heart of Pitt’s defense, Romano was a consensus All-American and Outland Trophy finalist in 1976. He was responsible for the biggest defensive play of the 1976 title season when he halted a Syracuse ball carrier deep in Pitt territory on fourth-and-short, protecting a seven-point lead in an eventual 23-13 win. Romano was named the Most Valuable Lineman in the 1975 Sun Bowl, a 33-19 win over Kansas that served as the launching pad to Pitt’s national championship campaign.

Steve Lewis (Posthumous) | Track and Field Coach | 1984-2002

Lewis coached some of the most accomplished track and field performers in Pitt history during his nearly two-decade tenure with the Panthers. He arrived at Pitt in 1982 as an assistant men’s track and field coach. Lewis became head women’s track and field coach in 1984 and also continued to work with the men’s sprinters and hurdlers. In 1994, he took over as head coach for both programs and served in that capacity for the next eight years. His incredible list of athletes includes two-time Olympic gold medalist Roger Kingdom, four-time NCAA champion Lee McRae, two-time NCAA champion Najuma Fletcher and seven-time NCAA champion Trecia-Kaye Smith. Under Lewis’ direction, the 1998 women’s track and field team finished third at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Five of his Pitt squads won Big East team titles. From an individual standpoint, he coached nearly 70 All-Americans and more than 130 Big East individual champions.

Source/Image: EJ Borghetti/Pitt Athletics