The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Vanderbilt Hall of Fame Class of 2022: Honoring a Tradition of Excellence and Groundbreakers

Vanderbilt Athletics Officially Inducts 2022 Hall Of Fame Class
Vanderbilt Athletics
On February 2, 2023 the Vanderbilt University Athletics Department hosted an induction ceremony for its 2022 hall of fame class (Vanderbilt Athletics).

On February 2, 2023 the Vanderbilt University Athletics Department hosted an induction ceremony for its 2022 hall of fame class. As is the case for hall of fame inductees at any collegiate university, these members are phenomenal athletes, coaches and contributors to the athletic department. What stands out most about Vanderbilt hall of fame inductees in particular is the success and excellence obtained by these individuals long after they don the Vanderbilt black and gold. The thirteen individuals that compose the 2022 class are no different — obtaining highly successful careers as lawyers, university presidents, professional athletes, coaches, teachers, and so much more. Both Chancellor Daniel Diermeier and Athletic Director Candice Lee expounded on the excellence personified by the class.

“They embody our proudest traditions that helped create compelling memories, moments, games, and seasons that unite our community,” said Diermeier.  

“The men and women we honor tonight helped write some of the most thrilling chapters of these memories,” Lee said. 

The Hustler takes a look at each of these members, the careers they led — and continue to lead. 

Steve Chandler, Baseball, 1975-1977

Growing up in Lexington, Kentucky, it was apparent from a young age that Steve Chandler was a premiere athlete. At Henry Pruitt High School, Chandler broke the record for most varsity letters earned  – 10 total – which earned him 50 scholarships. The trend of record setting continued for Chandler almost as soon as he stepped foot on campus. In 1976, he led the team with the highest batting average (0.357) and number of walks (49) while helping the team to a 27-23-0 record and fourth place conference finish. His season was impressive enough to earn him an All-SEC selection. In 1977, Chandler had another standout season, leading the team in RBI’s (26), triples (7), and walks (32), collecting All-SEC, and Vanderbilt Athlete of the Year honors. He also won  the Jim Ribbons award for outstanding leadership before he graduated. After leaving Vanderbilt, Chandler played in the minor league baseball system for a year before working as a high school coach from 1979-1992. Following his stint in coaching Chandler served as a scout for the New York Yankees before going back to high school to teach. Today Chandler still holds the Vanderbilt baseball program record for career walks (146).

Leonard Coleman, Football, 1980-1983

During his career at Vanderbilt, Coleman was a four year starter for the football team. Coleman finished the 1982 season with a team-high of eight interceptions. During this time, Coleman raked in numerous national accolades, including being a consensus All-SEC selection. When he left Vanderbilt, Coleman was ranked as the No.1 cornerback in the nation and set the team record for interceptions (15). His career in football continued after he graduated, as he joined the NFL, playing for the Indianapolis Colts and starting all 16 games for the team in the 1984 season. 

Jacqui Conciolino, Womens Golf, 2006-2009

A native of Orlando Florida, Conciolino played for the Vanderbilt women’s golf team for three years . During her first year she was named a second team All-American,first team All-SEC, and finished as the highest ranked player in the SEC. In 2007, she was named a first team all American, first team all SEC and an NCAA Central Region low medalist. Over the course of her career for the Commodores, Conciolino won four individual tournament medals. In a 2008 interview, she was asked what her favorite part of the Vanderbilt community was. 

The diversity. There are so many different people here from so many different backgrounds,” Conciolino said. “The people here are brilliant and it is a privilege to go to Vanderbilt.” 

After leaving Vanderbilt, Conciolino started playing pro golf for the LPGA in 2012, where she has recorded eleven career top ten rankings. 

Jackie Cowan, Women’s Basketball, 1983-1986

Jackie Cowan was a standout for the Commodores Women’s Basketball team. In her four years at Vanderbilt, Cowan tallied up record-setting numbers across the board, with career stats of 1,875 points,  51% field goal percentage, 760 rebounds, and 233 assists. In the 1985-86 season, Cowan was the team leader for points per game (20.4). She was named Vanderbilt’s female athlete of the year in 1986 after leading the Commodores to a 22-9 record and the program’s first berth in the NCAA tournament. In the same year, she was an All-SEC coaches selection and was named to the SEC all-tournament team. Cowan has continued her success off the field, where she is currently an interior designer. 

Randy Johnson, Mens and Womens Soccer, 1973-2001

There is one name and face that permeates the story of Vanderbilt soccer — Randy Johnson. In twenty seasons at Vanderbilt, Johnson built up both the men’s and women’s soccer teams.  From 1973 to 2001, the men’s team rose to varsity standing under Johnson’s tutelage. The team attained an overall record of 257- 238 – 45. Impressively, Johnson also held the reins of the women’s soccer team from 1986 to 1989. 

Lucy Jones, Administration, 1983-2011

Lucy Jones never suited up in the black and gold but was still an integral part of the Commodores team. Over the course of nearly three decades, Jones held several different roles in the Vanderbilt athletics department, including ticket manager and National Commodore Club Staff Member. Lucy brought people together to make sure that student athletes felt supported both on and off the field. Upon Lucy’s retirement from the athletics department in 2011, one of her colleagues and director of communications at the time – Rod Williamson – noted her impact.

“It’s going to be difficult for all of us to get used to a McGugin Center world without Lucy Bird — her million dollar smile, her upbeat attitude, her stories,”said Williamson

Billy McCaffery, Men’s Basketball, 1993-1994

Billy McCaffery played his junior and senior seasons for the Vanderbilt Commodores after previously playing for ACC powerhouse Duke University, where he won a national championship in 1992. Upon arriving at Vanderbilt, McCaffery continued to shine. In the 1993 season, he averaged 20.6 points per game and was named co-SEC player of the year en route to a Sweet 16 berth in the NCAA tournament. His hot streak continued into the next season where he also averaged 20.6 points per game, establishing himself as Vanderbilt’s second all time points per game scorer. After his time at Vanderbilt, McCaffery declared for the 1994 National Basketball Association draft, but after going undrafted played for five seasons overseas in Italy, Germany, and Australia. After retiring, he obtained a job as the assistant coach at St. Bonaventure before taking a head coaching job at the University of Maine. He now works as a private basketball coach. 

Hunter Stewart, Mens Golf, 2012-2015

Hunter Stewart was a standout for the Commodores men’s golf team. In 2015, he collected SEC player of the year and first-team all-American awards. He won three individual tournaments before he tied for third place in individual stroke play at the 2015 NCAA Championship, with a score of 282 (-6). This rise in success prompted Stewart to turn pro for a brief stint before recurring injuries from a non-golf related accident sidelined him. Stewart did not let his passion die out, however, and has since become a trailblazer in the world of sports analytics.

“Legends” Induction

In addition to a regular class of hall of fame inductees, Vanderbilt University also decided to induct five former football players and coaches who are in the National Collegiate Hall of Fame but had yet to be inducted into Vanderbilt University’s Hall of Fame. 

Lynn Bomar, Football, 1921-1924:

Lynn Bomar was the first ever player to start a game by kickoff at Vanderbilt’s old stadium, Dudley Field. The defensive blocker and end helped his team to three consecutive conference championships under legendary coach Dan McGugin. Nicknamed “the blonde bear” Bomar was named a Walters Camp All-American in 1923. Bomar was honored for his stellar career in 1956 when he was inducted into the National Collegiate Football Hall of Fame. 

Jess Neely, Football, 1920-1922

Jess Neely was yet another standout under the management of Dan McGugin, but his connection with Vanderbilt Athletics spanned for more than five decades. He served as captain for the 1922 team that won the southern conference championship. After his career as a player, Neely became a coach. Most notable of Neely’s coaching stints were with Clemson and Rice Universities where he accumulated an overall career record of 207-176-19, winning four bowl games. After retiring from coaching, Neely returned to Vanderbilt, where he held the director of athletics position from 1967-1971. He is credited with leading Vanderbilt Athletics out of a near dark age. After his long and successful career, Neely was inducted into the Collegiate Football Hall of fame in 1971.

Henry “Red” Sanders, Football, Player 1924-1926, Coach 1940-1942 and 1946-1948

Henry Sanders was a student athlete at Vanderbilt playing football, baseball and basketball from  1924-1926. He then carried the lessons he learned under legendary football coach Dan McGugin and served as the team’s head coach from 1940-1942 and 1946-1948. Under Sanders, the Commodores compiled a 32-22-2 record, and a No. 12 ranking in 1948. Sanders was later inducted into the college football hall of fame in 1996.

Bill Spears, Football, 1925-1927

Bill Spears served as the first-string quarterback in the latter years of McGugins golden era of Vanderbilt football. In 1927, he earned first-team all southern conference honors, in addition to all-America accolades. Spears pursued a career in law based out of Chattanooga, but was still deeply involved with Vanderbilt Athletics, serving on the board of trustees from 1954 until his death in 1992. Spears was inducted into the national college football hall of fame in 1962. 

John Tigert, Football, 1901-1903

John Tigert competed for the football team at the turn of the century when it was just starting to lay down its roots. After his time at Vanderbilt, Tigert went on to serve as university president at both Kentucky-Wesleyan and Florida. He then served as the U.S commissioner of education, where he worked tirelessly as an advocate for collegiate sports. He was part of the group responsible for the implementation of the federal athletic grants in aid system. 

Looking back to direct us forward

Whether you consider yourself a die hard sports fan or not, it is impossible to ignore how those honored at the ceremony were both masters of their sport and exemplary public servants. These ceremonies, while easy to overlook, are immensely important to learning about and recognizing the efforts that have led Vanderbilt to the point where it is today – a fast growing program which is increasing its competitiveness, influence and recognition across the country.

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About the Contributor
Grace Hall
Grace Hall, Deputy Sports Editor
Grace Hall (‘26) is from Belfast, Maine, and is majoring in public policy studies in the College of Arts and Science. Grace is also the vice-president of the Vanderbilt Club Field Hockey Team. When not writing for The Hustler you can find her watching the Boston Red Sox or Celtics, reading or at a concert. You can reach her at [email protected].
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