UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND, Va. – Five individuals whose legacies include championships, record-setting performances, All-State, All-Conference and All-America honors, plus a Team of Distinction that went where no other team of its kind had gone before comprise the 2019 University of Richmond Athletics Hall of Fame induction class.
The Class of 2019 was announced today by Director of Athletics John Hardt, and consists of Tom “Red” Booker (Men’s Basketball & Baseball 1957-1961), Jen MacKay Williams (Swimming 1994-1997), Matt McCracken (Football 2005-2009), Jill Murphy Myers (Field Hockey 1999-2002), Russell Smelley (Track & Field 1974-1977) and the 1990 Women’s Basketball Team enshrined as the Team of Distinction.
The 43rd Hall of Fame class will be inducted during a ceremony and dinner Friday night, November 1 at the Jepson Alumni Center on campus. The class will be introduced during the Homecoming football game Saturday November 2 at 3pm against Stony Brook.
Ticket information for the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony & Reception can be obtained by visiting https://uronline.net/homecoming-2019. For game tickets please contact the Richmond Ticket Office at 1-877-SPIDER-1.
Tom “Red” Booker – Men’s Basketball & Baseball – 1957-1961
If the Spiders were on the court or on the field in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, Tom Booker’s presence – red head and all – couldn’t be missed.
He was a four year starter on the baseball team, leading Richmond to winning seasons every year, and to Southern Conference championships in 1958 and 1961 under Hall of Fame head coach Mac Pitt. He was named All-Southern Conference as a senior outfielder in 1961, and went on to sign a professional contract with the New York Yankees, playing three minor league seasons before injury cut short his career.
On the hardwood, he was a three year starter for Hall of Fame coach Les Hooker. Booker averaged double figures all four seasons, concluding his Richmond career by leading the team in scoring as a senior with 17.7 points per game, earning him second team All-State honors. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Wrens of the American Basketball Association before choosing professional baseball.
Jennifer MacKay Williams – Swimming - 1994-1997
Versatility described Jen MacKay’s Richmond swimming career. Success defined it. Her record-setting performances and first place finishes came in events ranging from freestyle, butterfly, backstroke, medleys and relays. They came during regular season meets and in conference championships.
As a junior, MacKay set a pool record at Navy in the 100-meter butterfly and pool and meet records at George Washington in the 100 butterfly and backstroke. MacKay and her class started an unbeaten streak for coach Warren Hammer’s Spiders of 29 consecutive dual meets from 1996-1999.
As a sophomore at the Colonial Athletic Association Championships, she won the 100-yard butterfly and 100-yard backstroke. As a junior, she repeated in the 100-yard backstroke and was part of teams that won the 200 and 400-yard freestyle relays, and the 200-yard medley relay. She punctuated her Spider career as a senior, winning her third straight 100-yard backstroke, her second 100-yard butterfly, and was part of relay teams that again won the 200 and 400-yard freestyle events and also captured the 400-yard medley relay. Those efforts earned her CAA Championship Most Outstanding Performer.
She set Richmond records in the 100 and 200-yard backstroke and the 200 and 400-yard freestyle relay, and finished with 11 CAA titles.
As a junior, she earned All-America status from the National Strength and Conditioning Association and was honored as the 1996 Strength and Conditioning Female Athlete of the Year. Following her senior season, Jen MacKay Williams was named Spider Club Female Athlete of the Year and was also honored as the University of Richmond’s NCAA Woman of the Year nominee.
Matt McCracken – Football – 2005-2009
Offensive lineman Matt McCracken was not only one of the most acclaimed student-athletes to wear a Spider uniform, he was also one of the winningest.
From his redshirt year as a freshman to a fifth-year senior, McCracken’s Spider football teams were 50-17, with three conference titles and four playoff appearances, highlighted by the 2008 National Championship. From October 2008 through November 2009, the Spiders won 17 consecutive games, a program record.
He earned first team All-American honors in 2009 and 2008, and third team A-A honors in 2007, making him the first three-time All-America in UR history. The Associated Press, AFCA, Walter Camp Foundation, Sporting News and The Sports Network named him first team All-America following his senior season in 2009. McCracken joined fellow Hall of Famers LB Eric Johnson (1992), DB Jeff Nixon (1978) and WR Walker Gillette (1969) as the school's only consensus football First Team All-Americas.
He was twice named College Sporting News Offensive Lineman of the Year, also earning that honor from the Touchdown Club of Richmond in 2009. McCracken was a three-time All-CAA selection.
Starting at left guard, he anchored an offensive line that helped the Spiders to the programs’ two highest scoring teams in 2007 and 2008.
Jill Murphy Myers – Field Hockey – 1999-2002
A first team All-Conference standout and Offensive Player of the Year when Richmond won its first Atlantic 10 title in 2002, Jill Murphy Myers spearheaded an era of excellence for Spider field hockey as a student-athlete and an assistant coach.
As a senior captain, Murphy helped the 2002 team reel off a program-record 14 consecutive wins en route to a 17-7 overall mark and 6-0 in the A-10. She set the single-season assists record with 19, a mark that still stands in 2019. She left the program as the career assists leader, and is currently second with 31.
The Spiders swept through the 2002 A-10 tournament and defeated Rider in their first-ever NCAA Tournament play-in game before falling to No. 1 Old Dominion. Murphy was named A-10 All-Tournament Team, All State and All South Senior All-Star. She was selected to play in the North/South Senior All-Star game.
Following her playing career, she joined coach Ange Bradley’s staff as an assistant and helped guide the Spiders to three more A-10 championships from 2003-2005. In that four-year span as a senior student-athlete and coach, Murphy was a part of Spider teams that went 69-21 overall and 25-0 in the A-10 regular season and 8-0 in the A-10 tournament.
Russell Smelley – Track & Field/Cross Country – 1974-1977
Russell Smelley’s unique college career at the University of Richmond included championships as both an undergraduate runner and as a graduate coach, putting him on track for an award-winning coaching and teaching career.
A walk-on from Prince George County, Va., Smelley ran cross country and track for Richmond Hall of Fame coaches Fred Hardy and Bill Jordan. He won the Southern Conference, state and the Virginia-Carolinas championship in the 880, and qualified three times for the NCAA Indoor Championships. He earned All-America status in the two mile relay in 1976. He was team captain as a senior, and anchored the winning mile relay team that defeated North Carolina in a dual meet in Chapel Hill. He finished his Richmond career with seven school records.
After receiving his BA degree from Richmond, Smelley remained as a graduate student and became the first head coach for the women’s cross country and track & field teams. The cross country team tied for the 1979 state championship and had an AIAW Nationals individual qualifier in cross country and track & field in its first two varsity seasons.
In 1979, after obtaining his master’s degree from Richmond, he accepted a teaching and coaching position at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA. Within three years, Smelley inaugurated the women’s cross country and track & field programs and over the next four decades guided numerous NAIA team and individual champions.
He has been honored as the 1995 NAIA National Coach of the Year and earned the 2014 NAIA Coach of Character Award. He was inducted into the NAIA Cross Country Hall of Fame in 1999 and received the NAIA Coach of Character Award in 2015. He has served as President of the NAIA Cross Country Coaches Association. Smelley has also won numerous awards in the classroom as a professor and vice chair in Westmont’s Department of Kinesiology.
Team of Distinction – Women’s Basketball 1990
A year removed from the program’s first-ever post-season appearance in the WNIT, the 1990 women’s basketball team (25-5; 11-1 CAA) gave an encore post-season performance, but this time on the sport’s biggest stage – the NCAA Tournament.
Coach Stephanie Gaitley’s team won a school record 25 games, including a program-best 15 game winning streak that was stopped on the road by perennial Top 25 women’s national power Old Dominion.
On the road to the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance, the Spiders did take care of conference power James Madison – twice. Richmond handed JMU its first home Colonial Athletic Association loss in five years during the regular season, then edged the four-time defending conference champs in the tournament title game, 47-46. Richmond won its first regular season and post-season CAA crowns.
Senior guard Pam Bryant was named CAA Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, and went on to be named CAA Tournament Most Valuable Player. She finished second in the league in scoring (17 ppg) and steals (2.5 spg). Bryant concluded her Richmond Hall of Fame career second all-time in scoring (1766 points).
In her fifth year at the helm, Gaitley was named CAA Coach of the Year. The Spiders led the CAA and were ranked nationally in scoring defense (53 ppg), free throw percentage (77%), three-point shooting (43%) scoring margin (14.5) and winning percentage (.852). Sophomore forward Amy Mallon earned Second-Team All CAA honors, freshman center Kristy Sipple was named to the CAA All-Rookie Team and Bryant to the CAA All-Defensive Team.