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Statewide Sports 0

2024 Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame Inductees

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The Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame has released the names of the 2024 inductees chosen as the institution’s 65th honorees. The first members of the ASHOF, selected in 1959, represented college coaching, baseball, Razorback football, and AAU women’s basketball. Since that first class, the Hall has recognized accomplishments across dozens of sports at all levels. The new members continue the ASHOF’s tradition of inclusiveness and diversity.

The 2024 group includes three former Razorback football stars and two of the state’s legendary golfers. Also selected is a girls’ basketball coach who was part of four conference titles as a college player and four state championships as a coach. Inductees feature a college basketball star who won seven state titles as a coach at Little Rock Parkview and a former Harding All-American basketball standout from the 1970s. The Hall adds its ninth honoree from thoroughbred racing and the first Hall of Famer from a new category called Adaptive Sports. The ten new inductees represent six sports categories and accomplishments that span six decades.

Three New Hogs in the Hall

Peyton Hillis was a nationally recognized football star while still a student at Conway High School. He was a Super-Prep All-American and rated by “Super Scout” Max Emfinger as the best fullback in the nation. In addition to All-State honors, Hillis won the prestigious Landers Award in both his junior and senior years. Even his training regimen was attention-getting. His newsworthy workouts included photos of the teenage prodigy pulling a truck down the street.

As a Razorback, Hillis rushed for 959 yards, posted 1,195 receiving yards, and led Darren McFadden and Felix Jones through gaping holes. Saturday’s Down South writer Brad Crawford called the trio the “SEC’s best backfield ever.”

Hillis played 81 games in the NFL. His best year was 2010, when he rushed for 1177 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. Always a fan favorite for his determination and grit, Hillis was selected in a nationwide vote to appear on the cover of Madden 12.

Ryan Mallett was chosen as the Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior at Texas High School in Texarkana, Texas. He spent a year at Michigan before transferring to the University of Arkansas in 2008. In his first year with the Hogs, Mallett was named second-team All-SEC and selected as the MVP of the Liberty Bowl.  In his two seasons at Fayetteville, Mallett led Arkansas to an 18-8 record and a Bowl Championship Series berth.

Mallett was selected in the third round of the NFL Draft by the New England Patriots and played in 21 games in his pro career for New England, Houston, and Baltimore.

Ryan Mallett was preparing for his second season as head football coach at White Hall when on June 27, 2023, he drowned in a swimming accident in Florida.

Jason Peters came to Arkansas from Queen City, Texas, as a defensive tackle but was converted to offense immediately.  He will forever be remembered in Arkansas as a 270 lb. tight end. In his third season with the Hogs, he caught four touchdown passes and was selected as second-team All-SEC.

Peters currently ranks fifth in NFL career games played by an offensive lineman. He was named to the NFL All-Decade team in 2010. He has been selected All-Pro six times and chosen for the Pro Bowl seven times. He is currently in his 19th pro season.

Golf Champions

Glen Day won the 1999 MCI Classic on the PGA Tour. In a career that spans 45 years, Day has made 277 cuts on various PGA Circuits. He has placed second in four events and third five times. A native of Mobile, Alabama, Day now lives in Little Rock.

Ed Harris has won more than 100 amateur golf tournaments. Among his titles, Harris has won the Little Rock City Championship seven times. He was chosen the Senior Player of the Year in Arkansas six times and selected for the ASGA Hall of Fame in 2000. Harris was voted ASGA’s Golfer of the Decade for the 1990s.

Girls Basketball Coaching

Carla Burruss Crowder has won more high school girls’ basketball games than any female coach in Arkansas history. Crowder grew up in White County and played at Bradford High School for legendary coach Ronnie Johnson.

In 40 years of coaching, Crowder has won three state titles at Bryant and a fourth championship at Cabot in 2004. She was voted NFHS National Coach of the Year in 2004 and 2012.

Men’s Basketball All-American and a Coaching Legend

Al Flanigan was a two-time All-AIC selection as a point guard at Southern Arkansas University. Flanigan is fourth in career scoring at SAU with 1,609 points. As a coach, Flanigan has enjoyed a highly successful career at Little Rock Parkview, with seven state championships and 11 conference titles.

Parkview plays its home games on Al Flanigan Court at Ripley Arena.

Butch Gardner was a four-time All-AIC selection for Harding University from 1974-1977. Gardener was a third-team All-American in 1975 and a second-team selection in 1976 and 1977.

Gardner is still the Harding career leader in points scored. One of 12 children, Gardner was born in Mississippi, but since college, he has made Harding University and Searcy his home.

In 1991, he became Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students, and in 1999, he was selected as Harding’s Director of Minority Student Services and the First-Year Experience. After earning his Ed.D. at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 2007, he moved to Director of the University’s Career Center, holding that position until his 2021 retirement.

Oaklawn’s Innovative Leader

Eric Jackson has worked in an administrative capacity at Oaklawn Park since 1978. After serving as general manager for 30 years, he became vice president in 2015. During his time at Oaklawn, he helped develop the park’s merged pool wagering system which currently accounts for 80 percent of the horse racing wagering in North America.

His innovative Instant Racing idea resulted in the higher purses that bring quality racing to Hot Springs.  He has served on the Oaklawn Park Board of Directors since 1994.

World Class Athlete

Jeff Glasbrenner is a world-class amputee basketball player who also does triathlons and climbs mountains. He has won both gold and silver medals in the Paralympic games. Glasbrenner has excelled at wheelchair basketball, triathlons, and mountaineering. In 2016, he became the first Paralympian to climb Mt. Everest.

More About the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame

The ten new members of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame will be officially inducted at a banquet and ceremony in April. To learn more about the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, as well as how to nominate a future Hall of Famer and become a voter for the 2025 selection, click the link below.

Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame

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Jim Yeager is a baseball historian who resides with his wife, Susan, in Russellville. A member of the Society for American Baseball Research and the Robinson-Kell Arkansas Chapter of SABR, Yeager is a frequent presenter on the history of rural baseball in Arkansas. His books titled Backroads and Ballplayers and Hard Times and Hardball feature stories of Arkansans who played professional baseball in the first half of the 20th century. More information on Backroads and Ballplayers, Hard Times and Hardball, and other publications – www.backroadsballplayers.com

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