UNI Announces 2017 Athletics Hall of Fame Class

By Colin McDonough, UNI Athletics

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – The University of Northern Iowa will induct five individuals and one team into its Athletics Hall of Fame this September.

The 2017 class will include Mike Furrey (Football), Jacqui Kalin (Women's Basketball), Bre Payton (Volleyball), Ben Boothby (Merlin Taylor Academic Hall of Fame Award), Jim Sullivan (Dr. Jitu D. Kothari Meritorious Service Award) and the 1977-78 Panther wrestling team.

This year's induction will mark the 33rd group of Panther student-athletes, coaches, teams and supporters to join the Athletics Hall of Fame. The 2017 Hall of Fame ceremony will take place Fri., Sept. 8, in the McLeod Center.

"We are proud to announce the 2017 UNI Athletics Hall of Fame class – it is a collection of the best examples of excellence that UNI Athletics has to offer," UNI Director of Athletics David Harris said.

Mike Furrey was a three-time All-America honoree for the Panther football team from 1997-1999. Furrey caught 242 passes (3rd in MVFC history) for 3,544 yards (4th in MVFC history). Furrey earned first-team all-conference honors in 1997, 1998 and 1999. In 2006, Furrey ranked second in the National Football League in receptions (98). Furrey played seven years in the NFL for the Rams, Lions and Browns.

Jacqui Kalin set the UNI women's basketball school records for points (2,054), assists (491) and three-pointers made (261) from 2008-2013. Kalin was a two-time Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year in 2011 and 2013, while also earning the MVC Scholar-Athlete of the Year in both of those years. She was the first UNI women's basketball player to earn First-Team CoSIDA Academic All-America honors.

Bre Payton played for the Panther volleyball squad from 2008-2011 and was a member of four consecutive NCAA Tournament teams. She was a three-time MVC Player of the Year and a two-time All-America choice. She joins Molly O'Brien as the only two league players to be named a three-time MVC Player of the Year. She ranks No. 3 on UNI's all-time assist chart with 4,752 assists.

Ben Boothby will be honored as the Merlin Taylor Academic Hall of Fame Award winner. Boothby was a two-time first-team all-Missouri Valley Football Conference pick and earned first-team All-America honors as a senior in 2011. Boothby earned second-team academic All-America  accolades in 2010 and was a two-time first- team all-district academic pick. He was a finalist for the 2011 FCS ADA Postgraduate Scholarship and was a semifinalist for the 2011 William V. Campbell Trophy (Academic Heisman).

Jim Sullivan will be the Dr. Jitu D. Kothari Meritorious Service Award winner. Sullivan was a sports writer for the Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier from 1984-2016. He covered many stories in northeast Iowa which included UNI Panther athletics. His weekly column "The Sully Side of Sports" allowed him to showcase his wit and humor while telling the stories of athletes and coaches. Sully was a frequent halftime radio guest of Gary Rima during UNI Panther athletic events. Sully passed away Aug. 26, 2016, while putting the finishing touches on the sports page for the next days' paper.

The 1977-78 UNI wrestling team captured the NCAA Division II national title for head coach Chuck Patten. The squad boasted three individual national champions – Gary Bentrim at 158 lbs., Keith Poolman at 167 lbs. and Kirk Myers at 190 lbs. UNI tallied seven place-winners at the 1978 NCAA Division II national championship meet. The Panthers went 12-4 in dual competition and claimed the North Central Conference title.

To purchase tickets for the 2017 UNI Athletics Hall of Fame Banquet on Fri., Sept. 8, in the McLeod Center, contact the UNI athletics office at 319-273-2470.