Two contributors, a coach, two former players, and a long-time trainer, will be inducted next Tuesday into the University of Utah Crimson Club Hall of Fame. The annual affair, which also honors the 1991 Ute seniors, will be held at the Red Lion Hotel (255 So. West Temple).
Social hour is at 6:15 p.m. with dinner at 7:15 p.m.. Cost is $25 per person and the banquet is open to the public. Seating is limited so reservations must be made by Wednesday by calling 581-5456 or 581-8171.Robert L. Rice and Spencer F. Eccles will be the first two inducted into the Hall in the contributors category. Pres Summerhays, who coached four sports at Utah, will join baseball player Archie Skeen and football player Steve Odom as inductees this year. Inducted posthumously will be former Ute trainer Einar Nielsen.
For 40 years Nielsen and University of Utah Athletics were synonymous. "Doc," as he was known, became a fixture as the Ute trainer. He worked under four football coaches and two basketball coaches. He also conducted his own private practice out of his office in the Deseret Gym. He was the one who first conceived and initiated the idea of contacting businessmen and alumni for donations to assist young athletes.
Nielsen's greatest honor came on June 26, 1954 when the fieldhouse was officially named the "Einar Nielsen Fieldhouse" in his honor. Nielsen passed away December 13, 1954.
Spence Eccles, a former Ute All-America skier, graduated from Utah in 1956. He continued his education at Columbia University's school of Business where he received his Masters Degree in 1959.
During the winter of 1958 he was also a member of the United States FIS Ski team. Eccles began his banking career with the First National City Bank in New York in 1959. In 1960 he joined First Security Bank of Utah and began his climb up the corporate ladder. He is currently chairman and chief executive officer of First Security Corporation. Donations by the Eccles family have helped build the George S. Eccles Tennis Center, the home for Ute tennis teams. Eccles was also responsible for setting up the David and Blanch Freed Scholarship Fund to benefit University of Utah tennis players. His continued help with the ski program has kept Utah with one of the top collegiate ski programs in the United States.
In 1972 Bob Rice donated $1 million for the renovation of the football stadium at the University of Utah and the building of a scholarship box. He is currently the chairman of the board of Spa Fitness Centers and the president of Rice-Melby Enterprises, a national real estate investment company. He served on both President Nixon and President Ford's Council of Physical Fitness and Sports from 1972-77. He spent 10 years as the chairman of the Utah High School Football and Basketball All-Star Games, held annually to benefit cerebral palsy. Rice was honored with the Golden Plate of Achievement Award in 1972 from Lowell Thomas and the Horatio Alger Award in 1975 from Norman Vincent Peale.
Perhaps his greatest honor came when the University renamed the football stadium Robert L. Rice Stadium in honor of his contributions to the athletic program.
Archie Skeen played baseball for the Utes during the 1958 and 1959 seasons. His first year he played backup catcher and hit .320 for the season. As a senior helped the Utes to the Skyline Conference championship and the NCAA district playoffs. He led the conference in hitting, batting .490 for the season. He also won the national home run title and the national RBI title. He was named all-conference and all-district and was a first team All-American catcher. Skeen played five years in the Boston Red Sox organization making the all-star team three times and belting five grandslam home runs. Since retiring from baseball has worked in private business and is currently director of the Weber County Parks and Recreation Department.
Pres Summerhays coached at the university for 21 years. During that time he served as an assistant football coach and head baseball, golf and ski coach for various lengths of time. He was an all-conference football player for the Utes playing halfback on four unbeaten teams. As the football coach at Carbon High School he won two state championships and made it to the playoffs 17 of the 19 years he coached. In 1952 Summerhays joined the Ute football staff as backfield coach under Jack Curtice. He also coached under Ray Nagel and Mike Giddings until giving up his football duties in 1965.
He served from 1953 to 1973 as Ute baseball coach. His teams compiled a 322-282 record during those years. Under his leadership the Utes won five conference titles. In 1955 Summerhays took on the additional duties on ski coach. He coached the Ute skiers for eight years. He is an avid golfer and at 85 can still shoot his age.
Steve Odom was a wide receiver and kick return specialist for the Utes from 1971-73. He set five NCAA records and five Utah records during his career. He led the nation in kickoff returns in 1972. As a senior he led the team in touchdowns scored, receiving, punt returns and kickoff returns. He was named All-WAC and a first team All-American by the Football Writers of America. He was also named an Academic All-American and was chosen as the 1973 Utah Sportsman of the Year. He played in five post-season all-star games and was the number two selection by the Green Bay Packers in the 1974 NFL draft. As a Packer he set a club record with a 95-yard punt return against the Bears and was chosen Packer Rookie of the Year after the 1974 season. He played in the 1976 Pro Bowl and in 1978 led the NFL in kickoff returns. He currently resides in Berkeley, California where he is a detective with the Berkeley Police Department.