BALTIMORE — The Coppin State department of athletics announced today its inaugural Hall of Fame class. The six Hall of Fame members will be honored at a ceremony from 7-8 p.m. in Baltimore at the Forum Caterers on Friday, Feb. 17. The Hall of Fame class will also be honored during halftime of the Coppin State-Howard men’s basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 18 at the Physical Education Complex.
The inaugural Hall of Fame class includes former men’s basketball coach John Bates, men’s track and field performer Nicholas Eugene, men’s basketball and men’s track and field athlete Clayton McNeill, men’s basketball player Joe Pace, women’s track and field athlete Diana Pitts and men’s basketball player Larry Stewart.
“Our inaugural class showcases the rich history and tradition of Coppin State,” said director of athletics Derrick Ramsey. “We take great pride in honoring and recognizing the special talents displayed by our Hall of Fame members during their time at Coppin State.”
Bates led Coppin State to its only national championship when he guided the men’s basketball team to the NAIA Championship in 1976. The Eagles compiled a 39-2 record during the 1975-76 season, which culminated with a 96-91 victory over Henderson State in the championship game. He led the Eagles to a 32-3 record the following season and compiled a 209-121 overall record in 12 seasons at Coppin State. He ranks second all-time in victories and led CSU to the Potomac Intercollegiate Conference Championship in 1974-75, 1975-76 and 1976-77.
Eugene stands as one of the top distance runners in Coppin State track and field history. He is the Coppin State indoor record holder in the 1500 meters and ranks third all-time in the 1500 meters outdoors. He helped lead the Eagles to back-to-back Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Cross Country Championship in 1991 and 1992. He finished third overall at the 1991 championships and then finished first overall at the 1992 championships. He won the 5000 meter indoor MEAC championship in 1994 and earned six top-five finishes during his indoor career. He also had three top-five finishes at the MEAC Outdoor Championships.
McNeill left a lasting impression on Coppin State University as a student-athlete and an administrator both within the athletic department and the University. McNeill was a student-athlete at Coppin State from 1966-69 and participated in basketball, baseball and track and field. He was a guard and forward on Coppin State’s first conference championship team, which won the 1968 Potomac Intercollegiate Conference Tournament. He earned his bachelor of science degree in mathematics and education from Coppin State in 1969, his master’s of education from Coppin State in 1975 and his doctor of education degree from Temple in 1986. He served as the athletic director at Coppin State from 1992-96 and led the Eagles to seven MEAC Championships in four different sports. He served as the Coppin State director of Coppin Urban Resource Exchange, director of student activities, director of auxiliary enterprises, acting associate dean of the university and vice president of student life.
Pace ranks as one of the greatest players in Coppin State history and led the Eagles to the 1976 NAIA National Championship. He scored 43 points in leading Coppin State to a 96-91 victory over Henderson State in the championship game and was named the tournament’s most valuable player. He ranks ninth in Coppin State history with 1,313 points and is second with 978 rebounds. He is the all-time leader at Coppin State with career averages of 22.3 points and 18.6 rebounds per game. He was named an NAIA All-American in both 1975 and 1976 and was named to the Associated Press College Division All-American team in 1976. Pace was drafted in the second round of the NBA draft by the Washington Bullets where he spent two seasons.
Pitts was the first Coppin State track athlete, male or female, to earn All-America honors. She earned outdoor All-America accolades at the 1993 and 1994 championships in the 800 meters and remains the only two-time honoree in school history. She captured seven conference championships including winning the 800 meters, the 1500 meters and the 3000 meters at the 1994 MEAC Indoor Championships. She is the Coppin State record holder in the 500 meters, 1000 meters, 1500 meters and the mile indoors and the 400 meters, 800 meters and 1500 meters outdoors.
Stewart was a two-time Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Player of the Year and was a three-time All-MEAC selection. He helped lead Coppin State to its first-ever berth in the NCAA Tournament in 1990 and helped lay the groundwork for the success that would follow. He ranks as the third leading scorer in Coppin State history with 1,824 points and is the all-time leader with 1,052 rebounds. He is the only player in school history to surpass both 1,000 career points and rebounds. After leaving Coppin State he played for four seasons in the National Basketball Association with the Washington Bullets and the Seattle Supersonics and became the first undrafted rookie named to the NBA All-Rookie Team.
The Coppin State University Athletic Hall of Fame was established to pay tribute and give recognition to former student-athletes, coaches and administrators who have significantly contributed to the athlete success and history of the institution.