Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College will induct seven athletes, coaches and contributors into its athletic hall of fame and honor two individuals who were inducted into the National Junior College Athletic Association Football Hall of Fame.
The college will host an Athletic Hall of Fame weekend in honor of the nine inductees beginning Friday and culminating with an induction ceremony Saturday afternoon.
NEO’s 2009 inductees are:
4 Dr. Bruce Carter, former NEO president;
4 The 1951 Golden Norse football team, the college’s first undefeated football squad;
4 Donne Pitman, a Golden Norse football player who was named All-American in 1960;
4 Ron Yankowski, 1968 Golden Norse football player who was named All-American;
4 Chuck Bowman, Golden Norse football coach from 1967-1971;
4 Cletus Green, Golden Norse basketball coach from 1964 through 1980, and
4 Ray Judkins, head wrestling coach from 1975-1978 and from 1981-1986
The NJCAA Football Hall of Fame honorees are:
4 Richard Haynes, Golden Norse football player in 1963 through 1964, and
4 Bob Maxwell, former athletic director.
“We are proud to honor these individuals who helped shape NEO’s reputation as a national powerhouse in intercollegiate athletics,” said NEO president Dr. Jeffery Hale. “Their achievements on and off the field of competition continue to bring honor to the school they love so much.”
This is the second year that NEO will honor those who contributed to the prestige of Norse athletics, said Edie Ingram, director of the NEO Development Foundation.
The NEO Athletic Hall of Fame inductees were selected from a pool of 26 applicants by a committee of alumni, community representatives and members of the NEO Development Foundation board of directors.
The first Hall of Fame class included football coach S.A. “Red” Robertson, the 1959 Golden Norse Football national championship team, baseball coach Homa Thomas and several Golden Norse players, including Maxwell, baseball; Jack Begley, basketball; Lonnie Graham, football; Dixie Woodall, basketball; Gene Hart, baseball; Doug Mathews, football, and Matt Blair, football.
Ingram said an entire weekend will be devoted to the Athletic Hall of Fame celebration so that those being honored may have a more memorable experience.
“We are inducting individuals and an entire team of people who may not have seen each other for 50 years,” Ingram said. “We wanted to give them ample time to reconnect and reminisce about their years at NEO.”
The Athletic Hall of Fame Weekend will begin at 9 a.m. on Friday, with a reception in the ‘O’ Club Room inside the NEO Fieldhouse.
Golfers can enjoy a round at the Peoria Ridge Golf Course at noon. Non-golfers may take a tour of the Coleman Theater, also planned for noon.
Saturday, a reception will be held at 9 a.m. in the ‘O’ Club Room, followed by a banquet and induction ceremony at 2 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom.
The cost to play golf at Peoria Ridge is $60 per person.
Tickets to the Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony are $20.
To participate in the Athletic Hall of Fame Weekend, contact the NEO Development Foundation at 540-6250.
2009 NEO Athletic
Hall of Fame Inductees
Dr. Bruce Carter: As President of NEO A&M College for 27 years, Carter served longer than any NEO president to date. A native of Chickasha, Carter came to NEO in 1943. During his presidential tenure, the college grew from approximately 200 to 2,500 students. He promoted the college’s agriculture, vocational-technical programs, and athletic programs at the national level. He led the construction of five dormitories, the Library Administration Building, vo-tech buildings, Copen Hall, gymnasium, Fine Arts Building, four apartment buildings, an expansion to the football stadium, as well as other projects.
1951 Golden Norse Football Team: In 1951, the Golden Norse football team completed its first undefeated season in the history of the college and won the Oklahoma Junior College Conference Championship. The Norsemen of 1951 also became the only unbeaten college squad in the state of Oklahoma. They played in the Texas Junior College Rose Bowl.
Donne Pitman: Pitman was a receiver on the 1959 championship team and received recognition as an NJCAA All-American in 1960. Pitman earned the Carl Rigney Student Athlete Award for his outstanding traits in scholarship, leadership and athletic ability. Pitman was recruited by the University of Colorado and played for the Buffaloes for two years.
Ron Yankowski: Yankowski was a graduate of Picher High School prior to becoming a defensive tackle for the Norse. He was a member of the championship team in 1967 and was named NJCAA All-American. In 1969, Yankowski was recruited by Kansas State University, where he started as a defensive tackle for two years. There, he received the honor of being named All Big-Eight defensive tackle, knocking down 15 passes in two years. Yankowski was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1971 and played with the Cardinals for 10 years.
Chuck Bowman: In 1967, Bowman arrived in Miami to serve NEO as head football coach and athletic director. In his first year as Norse head coach, his team won an NJCAA national championship with a 9-1 record. Under Bowman’s direction, the Golden Norse of 1969 won yet another NJCAA national title. Bowman garnered recognition by being named NJCAA coach of the year in 1967 and again in 1969. He coached nine All-American players and brought home three bowl game victories in five years. Bowman’s overall record at NEO was 41-8. Bowman also served as president of the National Football Coaches Association.
Cletus Green: Green’s coaching career spanned 50 years before his retirement in 2007. As a head coach in high schools and colleges, Green directed teams for 767 wins and 421 losses. While at NEO for 16 years from 1964 to 1980, he led the Norsemen to a 326-174 mark, which included eight conference titles and 11 invitational tournament crowns. Two of his teams played in the national tournament. During his years at NEO, Green served as president of the National Junior College Basketball Coaches Association. He has received numerous honors and awards, including being named to the Oklahoma High School Basketball Hall of Fame, Seminole High School Hall of Fame, 1999 NEO Outstanding Alumni and several coach of the year awards.
Ray Judkins: An alumnus of NEO, Judkins played for Red Robertson in 1955 and 1956. He was also a starter for the NEO baseball team and was an AAU wrestler. Judkins later played football at Northeastern State University, where he was a member of NSU’s 1958 national championship team. Judkins began NEO’s wrestling program in 1975. Under his direction, the Golden Norse had two regional championships, two conference titles and a number of invitational tournament championships. Under Judkins’ tutelage from 1981 through 1985, the Norseman took 36 wins in collegiate matches. In his six years of coaching wrestling at NEO, Judkins produced 12 NJCAA All-Americans and was named regional coach of the year.
Hall of Fame Inductees
Richard Haynes: Haynes came to NEO from Sapulpa. He played for Red Robertson in 1963 and 1964. His first year at NEO he helped to lead the Norseman to the Oklahoma State football championship and an appearance in the 1963 Junior College Rose Bowl. Haynes was recognized by the NJCAA as an All-American in 1963. In 1964, Haynes reached an NEO milestone by becoming the first Norseman to receive back-to-back All-American honors. He went on to play for Central Missouri State, where he received Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association All-Conference honors.
Bob Maxwell: Not only was Maxwell an alumnus who lettered in four sports at NEO but through his service at the college he made great contributions to junior college football. Longevity and loyalty are two qualities that define Maxwell’s 35-year affiliation with the Golden Norse athletic programs. During Maxwell’s tenure as athletic director the Golden Norse football program joined the Southwest Junior College Football Conference, the Lady Norse basketball and softball teams went to national tournaments and the college built a state-of-the-art wellness center. A graduate of Miami High School, Maxwell served as an assistant football coach, head baseball and head softball coach during a 32-year coaching career.