The University of Wisconsin Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2016 was announced on Monday.
The class is comprised of Bruce Driver, John Easker, Lee Evans, Tom Grantham, Rick Lawinger, Kari Maijala, Kirk Penney and Jeff Sauer. They’ll be officially inducted in a ceremony held at Union South on Friday, Sept. 16. They’ll also be recognized at halftime of the Badgers’ football game against Georgia State the following day at Camp Randall Stadium.
Driver is one of just 10 UW men’s hockey players to be a part of two NCAA Championship teams. A freshman on the 1981 national champions, Driver earned first-team All-America honors the following season as the Badgers again advanced to the NCAA title game. A team captain as a junior, Driver paired with Chris Chelios on the blue line and helped lead UW to its second title in three years. He went on to play 15 seasons in the NHL and helped New Jersey win a Stanley cup in 1995.
Easker’s selection is a historic one as he becomes one half of the first husband and wife tandem to both be inducted into the UW Athletics Hall of Fame, joining his wife, Cathy Branta in the hall. The first four-time All-American in UW cross country history, Easker helped the Badgers to their first NCAA title, in 1982.
Evans re-wrote the UW record book for receivers during his time in Madison. He set the Big Ten single-season record for receiving yards, a record that still stands, in 2001 (1,545). That year he earned first-team All-America honors and was one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award. Evans holds the career school records for receiving yards (3,468) and receiving TD’s (27).
Grantham, one of the founding fathers of the Crazylegs Classic, is this year’s “special service” selection. Grantham and two friends, Ken Sparks and Rich Backus, hatched the idea for the Crazylegs Classic race in 1981 and received permission from then-athletic director Elroy Hirsch to use his name for the race.
Lawinger was the first Badger individual to win an NCAA wrestling title, earning the championship at 142 pounds in 1974. He won Big Ten individual titles as both a junior and senior, earning All-America honors both years.
Maijala led the Badgers women’s soccer team to the 1991 NCAA title game as a senior, earning first-team All-America honors along the way. She still holds the UW career records for goals (47) and points (112). In addition to the 1991 title game, the Badgers played in the NCAA tournament in each of Maijala’s four seasons, also advancing to the final four in 1988.
A first-team All-Big Ten selection as a junior and senior, Penney was the first UW men’s basketball player to earn first-team honors in consecutive seasons since Ab Nicholas in 1951-52. As a freshman, Penny was a part of the Badgers 2000 Final Four team. He then helped UW to Big Ten titles in 2002 and 2003.
Sauer led the Badger men’s hockey team to two national titles (1983 and 1990) and his 489 victories are the most by a UW coach in any sport. In addition to the two NCAA titles, Sauer guided Wisconsin to two WCHA regular season titles and five playoff crowns. He was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame and currently coaches the national hearing impaired team and the U.S. Sled Hockey Team, which has won the gold medal at every major international competition since 2011.