Los Angeles Clippers Head Coach and former University of South Carolina stand-out guard Mike Dunleavy headlines the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame's Class of 2008, which will be inducted tonight in a ceremony at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center in Columbia, South Carolina.
Rounding out the class of 2008 are NFL defensive stalwarts Levon Kirkland of Clemson and Ernie Jackson of Duke, 13-year Major League Baseball pitcher Bob Bolin, former LPGA golfer Dottie Pepper of Furman, South Carolina high school basketball coach Carl Williams and the late University of South Carolina sports information director Tom Price.
In addition to the actual Hall of Fame inductions, several other awards will be presented, including the Bobby Richardson Sportsmanship Award. Some 40 past inductees will return for the banquet's famous parade-of-stars entrance to the banquet hall.
Dunleavy, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., started all four years at South Carolina under then head coach Frank McGuire, and finished his four-year collegiate career as USC's third all-time leading scorer with 1,586 career points. The 6-2, 175-pound all-purpose guard averaged 14.3 points over his career, including 16.0 ppg as a sophomore and 16.3 ppg as a junior. He appeared in 111 consecutive games for the Gamecocks, starting his last 105. A straight-A psychology major, Dunleavy went on to an 11-year NBA playing career, compiling career averages of 8.0 points and 3.9 assists.
In 2008, Dunleavy completed his fifth season as head coach of the Clippers by permanently etching his name in the franchise record books despite a difficult season that saw the team suffer through a league-high 321 games lost due to injury and illness. He became the Clippers all-time franchise leader in victories when he won his 159th game on Dec. 7, 2007, surpassing Dr. Jack Ramsay. Dunleavy’s 410 games on the Clippers sideline is the most games coached in club history, as he passed Ramsay (1972-76) and Bill Fitch (1994-98) on Nov. 2, 2007.
Prior to joining the Clippers, the 15-year NBA coaching veteran guided the Portland Trail Blazers for four seasons (1997-2001), leading them to a 190-106 (.642) record and four straight playoff appearances. Under Dunleavy, the Blazers made two consecutive trips to the Western Conference Finals in 1999 and 2000 with the 1999-00 club winning 59 games, matching the second-best victory total in Blazers history. Dunleavy earned the 1999 NBA Coach of the Year award after leading the 1998-99 Blazers to a Pacific Division-winning 35-15 record. Dunleavy’s first head coaching opportunity came with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1990-91, when he led them to a 58-24 record and a berth in the NBA Finals, where they lost in five games to the Chicago Bulls. During the Lakers’ run through the 1991 NBA Playoffs, Los Angeles defeated Houston (3-0), Golden State (4-1) and upset Portland (4-2) in the Western Conference Finals, after the Blazers had posted the league’s best regular season record (63-19) and two straight NBA Finals appearances. The following year, the Lakers posted a 43-39 record and dropped a first-round series to Portland. Dunleavy moved on in 1992 to Milwaukee, where he compiled a 107-221 (.326) record over four seasons while holding the dual title of Vice President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach.
Lamar, SC native Kirkland, an All-American at Clemson, went on to become an All-Pro with the Pittsburgh Steelers while fellow-inductee Jackson starred at Columbia's Lower Richland High School before becoming a two-time All-American at Duke and playing eight years in the NFL.
Bolin, from Hickory Grove, SC, pitched for the Giants, Brewers and Red Sox from 1961-1973. The side-arming right-hander recorded the National League's second lowest ERA of 1.99 in 1968. At career end, he ranked No. 9 in MLB history in career-low ERA among pitchers with 500-plus innings.
Pepper helped establish Furman as a women's golf power before winning 17 LPGA tournaments, including two majors. Williams won state championships at three different Columbia-area schools --- Booker T. Washington, Flora twice, and Lower Richland --- while compiling more than 500 victories and sending Xavier McDaniel, Tyrone Corbin and Leon Benbow to the NBA.
Price publicized USC athletes for more than 40 years and authored several books on Carolina sports. He will be only the third person to be inducted in the contributor category following USC announcer Bob Fulton and Clemson publicity director Bob Bradley.