Yesterday, the University of Kentucky announced the select group of former athletes/administrators to be inducted into the UK Hall of Fame this September. The ceremony well take place on Sept. 23-24, or what is being called ‘Hall of Fame’ weekend. What else is taking place that weekend? Well, the home football where we finally beat Florida! This year’s inductees are Jeff Abbott (baseball), Pam Browning (women’s basketball), Ilkka Jantti (men’s soccer), Cedric Kauffmann (men’s tennis), Bill Ransdell (football) and Russell Rice (former administrator).
Still no word on why the intramural accomplishments of both Drew Franklin, Will Lentz, and Beisner haven’t gotten them spots in the Hall, yet. Expect that to change soon. Here’s a little bio from UK Athletics on each player:
Jeff Abbott (1991-94) Baseball All-American and a first-team All-SEC in 1994 after setting single-season school records for batting average (.445), hits (102), home runs (23), total bases (203) and slugging (.886), all standing. Also holds UK single-season on-base percentage (.533) set in 1992 and ranks in the top five in eight career offensive categories (batting average, runs, hits, doubles, home runs, total bases, slugging percentage, walks, and on-base percentage). UK won at least 30 games in each of his four years (41 wins in 1991). He played five seasons in the major leagues with the Chicago White Sox.
Pam Browning (1974-78) is one of only two players in UK women’s basketball history to be named All-American by Street & Smith’s annual publication (1977). She ranks fifth on UK’s career scoring list with 1,598 points and she continues to hold the school record for highest scoring average in a season, averaging 25.5 points in 1976-77. As a member of the first women’s basketball team at UK in the modern era, she led UK to its first two wins over ranked opponents in program history with victories over No. 2 Tennessee Tech and No. 18 Indiana during the 1976-77 campaign. Browning career avg was 14.9 ppg.
Ilkka Jantti (1998-2001) First All-American in UK men’s soccer history. The four-time NSCAA All-Region honoree was named the 2001 MAC Player of the Year, the 1998 MAC Newcomer of the Year and earned All-MAC honors in all four years at UK. Took UK to three NCAAT appearances and led UK to back-to-back MAC regular-season championships in 2000 and 2001, as well as MAC Tournament titles for three straight years (1999-2001). In addition to being on the All-Tournament team twice, Jantti was a first-team NSCAA/adidas Scholar All-American, a Verizon Academic All-American, a winner of a prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship and named to the conference academic honor roll three times.
Cedric Kauffmann (1995-98) First three-time All-American in singles play in Kentucky men’s tennis history. Went 150-54 during his four-year career at UK, finished in the top 10 in the country from 1996-98. He climbed as high as No. 2 in 1997. Kauffmann was a National Clay Court Singles Championship finalist (1997) and a National Indoor Singles Championships semifinalist (1996). Played on the ATP Tour after his time at Kentucky and was ranked 170th worldwide. Competed in the 2001 French Open and the 2000 United States Open, losing in a fifth-set tiebreaker at the 2001 French Open to tennis legend Pete Sampras. Named UK men’s tennis assistant coach in 2005 and currently serves as the associate head coach.
Bill Ransdell (1983-86) is one of the top quarterbacks in UK history. Set Wildcat season records for most offensive plays, total offense, pass attempts, pass completions, passing yardage, completion percentage and consecutive passes without an interception. He held single-game UK records for total plays, pass attempts, completions and completion percentage and notched then-school career records for total offense (5,456 yards), total offensive plays (996), pass attempts (816), completions (460), passing yardage (5,564) and completion percentage (.575). Ransdell also helped lead the Wildcats to a 9-3 record and Hall of Fame Bowl victory in 1984. H a two-year career in the NFL. An analyst on UK TV network telecasts. Served as president of the K-Association lettermen’s group.
Russell Rice (1967-87) Former UK Athletics administrator who was associated with UK Athletics for over a half-century. Rice spent 20 years on staff from 1967 to 1987, including 18 as a sports information director. Wrote several books chronicling the history of Wildcat men’s basketball and football programs. Served as media coordinator for several NCAA bball tournaments hosted by UK. Was also a president of the SEC Sports Information Directors Association. More than 20 years since retirement, Rice still writes a weekly column for The Cats’ Pause magazine and is a historical resource for UK Athletics. A WWII veteran (U.S. Marines) and a UK graduate, Rice spent 16 years in the media after graduation, including five years as sports editor of the Lexington Leader, before joining the UK staff.