Lipscomb may now be achieving prominent status in Division 1 athletics, but it hasn’t forgotten about the NAIA powerhouse it once was.
As part of the annual Homecoming festivities, Lipscomb will be inducting seven new members into its sports Hall of Fame: Brent McNutt, Wes Wilkerson, Emily Pleasant High, Sarah Marcrom McKamey, Wade Tomlinson, Marcus Bodie and Lynn Griffith.
Athletic Director Philip Hutcheson, who is a member of the Hall of Fame himself, said this round of inductees is beginning to wrap up the NAIA years.
“Right now, we’re at an interesting moment, because we’re just kind of wrapping up, I would say, the NAIA era, in terms of the Hall of Fame part of it,” Hutcheson said. “We’ll never…[stop to] appreciate and recognize its history, but in terms of people who are in the Hall of Fame from that era, now we’ll soon be thinking about the NCAA era.”
Part of the stipulation for being inducted into the Hall of Fame is that he or she must have finished playing at Lipscomb for at least 10 years. Hutcheson said he thinks this allows a perspective of time in order to look back and compare, in addition to allowing the recipients to have a period of time for the award to perhaps be more meaningful to them.
The first year Lipscomb was fully eligible for NCAA competition was 2003. If a student-athlete played for the entirety of his collegiate career under the NCAA, he would have finished around 2007 or 2008, just now hitting the 10-year mark.
Notably, two of the seven players to be inducted, Bodie and Tomlinson, played under legendary men’s basketball coach Don Meyer. Hutcheson, along with Darren Henrie, is already in the Lipscomb sports Hall of Fame. Now with Bodie and Tomlinson soon-to-be inducted, four from the same recruited class under Coach Meyer will be in the Hall of Fame.
“I think there’s some recognition that . . . even though the players’ numbers weren’t as great as they would have been if they had been the only person on the team that could score, the only one who could do something else, they were a part of a team that was so good . . . that made it great,” Hutcheson said.
Hutcheson noted the success of these players should partially be contributed to Coach Meyer’s legacy.
“I think it’s a real credit to Coach Meyer, and I think it’s a credit to the assistant coaches and the recruiting job they did . . . certainly the two people going in at this point, Marcus Bodie and Wade Tomlinson, both are deserving, even on their own, and then as part of this program, makes it that much more special and impressive.”
Tomlinson, who graduated in ’91, concurred with Hutcheson’s remarks, noting that his selection for induction “shocked” him, yet touched him.
“I’m telling you; it blew me away; it touched me,” Tomlinson said. Tomlinson actually roomed with Bodie his freshman year, which was atypical for two freshman to room together under Coach Meyer’s rooming system, according to Tomlinson, who added that he finds it special he and Bodie get to be inducted together.
Tomlinson noted how “surprised” he was to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, adding that it was a running joke during their senior year, since the team was comprised of such a solid, well-rounded team, that he was the only one in the class that didn’t hold a national record.
“That team I played on had so much talent . . . We joked about it a little bit, but everybody owned a national record but me. Philip [Hutcheson] owned the all-time scoring record . . . Marcus [Bodie] held the all-time steals record, so that’s the reason I was [shocked] to make the Hall of Fame, since I was the only one who didn’t hold a national record of our class.”
Putting Tomlinson’s humility aside and bringing out the stats, the basketball standout known as the “ultimate team player” grabbed more than 450 rebounds and handed out over 300 assists. He shot 45.5% from the three-point line and finished his basketball career at Lipscomb with 1,792 points, 7th in the university’s all time scorers. During his time under Coach Meyer, he helped lead the team to national recognition as college basketball’s winningest program.
Coach Meyer isn’t the only coach whose legacy will be seen during the year’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony though. Longtime tennis coach Lynn Griffith will be inducted in this year’s class as well.
Griffith has worked for Lipscomb Athletics for nearly 40 years. During his time as tennis coach, beginning in 1980, he led his teams to a match record of 365-270. He also led the tennis program in the transition from NAIA to NCAA. In 2002, he was named NCAA DI Independent Men’s Tennis Coach of the Year.
“When I left college, I actually coached basketball for quite a while . . . then Lipscomb gave me this opportunity [as tennis coach] . . . and I guess you know, we could get Biblical right here, because the Bible talks about leaving your first love,” Griffith said. “I’ve realized now tennis is my first love. I’ve left it many times, but I’ve come back to it.”
In 2013, Griffith was inducted into the Cleveland State Hall of Fame, the junior college he attended, as a tennis player. He noted that he finds it special he’s being inducted into Lipscomb’s Hall of Fame as a coach.
“I just go, ‘Wow, where has tennis taken me,'” Griffith said. “. . . The sport, I can really look back on my life and tell you that the sport of tennis has opened every professional door that has occurred to me.”
In addition to Griffith and Tomlinson, there will be two baseball inductees (McNutt and Wilkerson), two women’s basketball inductees (Pleasant High and Marcrom McKamey) and one men’s basketball (Bodie).
McNutt and Wilkerson were both known as two of Lipscomb’s best all-around players. McNutt held a batting average of .388 and is the only player in Bisons baseball history to hold a batting average higher than .400 two different years. Wilkerson was a two-way player, who doubled as both a pitcher and an offensive player. He averaged a 4.49 ERA as a pitcher, and he led the program in RBIs and was second in home runs in program history at the end of his career.
Pleasant High and Marcrom McKamey played for women’s basketball in the 1990s. Marcrom McKamey scored 1,461 points in her career and helped advance her team to the NAIA National Championship game in 1994. Pleasant High was known as both an offensive standout and unshakable defender, scoring 1,484 points and grabbing a total of 617 rebounds.
Bodie, who, like Tomlinson and Hutcheson, played under Coach Meyer, helped lead the Bisons to No. 1 nationally each of his four years at Lipscomb. He scored over 800 points, but left with national records for his defending — most steals in a single game (10), in a season (175) and in a career (440).
Stay tuned to Lumination for more coverage.
Featured image courtesy of Tomlinson
Video package by author