Utah State University held a ceremony Friday night to officially induct its 2017 class into its Athletics Hall of Fame.
The 2017 class includes: Kent Baer, a former football great and assistant football coach; Gordon "Dutch" Belnap, the third-winningest basketball coach in school history; Shane Bingham, a two-time track and field All-American; Chris Cooley, an All-American football player and school-record holding tight end; Christy Denson-Pettiette, a two-time gymnast of the year; Jayme Gordy, a record-setting soccer player; Nate Harris, the only three-time first-team all-conference basketball player in school history; and Stew Morrill, the most successful and winningest basketball coach in school history.
A total of 103 individuals and three teams have now been inducted into the Utah State Athletics Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame was founded in 1993 with 12 initial members, followed by eight members in 1994 and seven in 1995. The addition of any inductees was stopped until 2006 when five more individuals were added, followed by six recipients in 2007 and five in 2008, to go along with the first-ever team inducted. Seven more inductees were added in 2009, followed by six in 2010; five in 2011, plus two more national championship teams; eight in 2012; six inductees in 2013, 2014 and 2015; and eight inductees in 2016 and 2017.
2017 Utah State University Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame Class
Hometown: Providence, Utah
Sport: Football, Assistant Football Coach
Years: 1970-72, 1979-85
Described as a 'Student of the Game' during his collegiate playing days, Baer was a three-year letterwinner and two-year starter at linebacker for Utah State. As a senior in 1972, Baer set the then-school record for tackles in a single season with 116, a mark that stood for 10 years, as he earned the team's Hustle Award. During his junior and senior seasons, Baer helped the Aggies post back-to-back 8-3 records, which included a 5-0 mark against in-state schools, as USU notched consecutive wins against BYU and Utah to win the Beehive Boot (the state's collegiate football championship trophy) in each of its first two years in existence. Following his playing career, Baer immediately began coaching and became a graduate assistant for the Aggies in the spring of 1973. Baer then spent the next four years at the Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan, where he eventually became athletic director and head football coach. He returned to Utah State in 1977 and spent two years as a graduate assistant and seven years as a full-time assistant, as he coached the linebackers for four seasons (1979-82) and then spent three seasons as USU's defensive coordinator and secondary coach (1983-85). In two of his three years as defensive coordinator, the Aggies led the conference in total defense. In all, Baer has been a collegiate football coach for more 40 years and is currently the defensive coordinator at UNLV. In fact, UNLV is the 10th Football Bowl Subdivision program where Baer has served as defensive coordinator, as he held that title for 29 combined seasons at, in order, Utah State, Idaho, California, Arizona State, Stanford, Notre Dame, Washington, San José State and Colorado. During his time at Notre Dame, Baer was one of five finalists for the 2002 Broyles Award, presented to the nation's top assistant. He was also a nominee for the Broyles Award in 2012 while at SJSU. Baer has coached under several of the game's outstanding head coaches, including Bruce Snyder (Utah State, Cal and Arizona State), Tyrone Willingham (Stanford, Notre Dame and Washington) and Dick Tomey (San José State). A veteran of nine bowl games, Baer twice served as interim head coach in the postseason, winning the 2012 Military Bowl while leading San José State and losing the 2004 Insight Bowl while leading Notre Dame. Baer graduated from Utah State in 1973 with a degree in physical education and recreation, following a fine prep career at Sky View High School in Smithfield, Utah.
Gordon "Dutch" Belnap
Hometown: Ogden, Utah
Sport: Head Men's Basketball Coach, Head Men's Tennis Coach
Years: 1974-79; 1969-71
Belnap spent 11 years associated with Utah State basketball, including six seasons as its head coach. Following his graduation from Utah State in 1958, Belnap spent several years coaching at Weber High School in Pleasant View, Utah, and led the Warriors' baseball team to the state championship in 1961, prior to assuming the head basketball coaching duties in 1966. During that time, Belnap also spent time in professional baseball as the general manager of the Ogden Dodgers, where he was named minor league baseball's Executive of the Year in 1967. Belnap began his Aggie coaching career during the 1968-69 season as an assistant under then-head coach LaDell Andersen and helped USU to 80 wins and a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances as an assistant, including the 1970 NCAA Western Regional Championship game against UCLA. As an Aggie assistant, Belnap spent three years directing the freshman team, which recorded a 47-13 record under his tutelage. He later spent two years as the chief assistant coach, before being named Utah State's 11th head basketball coach prior to the 1973-74 season. During his six seasons (1974-79) in charge of the Aggie cagers, Belnap compiled a then-school record 64.6 winning percentage, a mark that still ranks third all-time in school history, as his teams posted a 106-58 record. As Utah State's head basketball coach, Belnap led the Aggies to three postseason appearances, playing in the 1975 and 1979 NCAA Tournaments, along with the 1978 National Invitation Tournament. In all, Belnap's teams never had a losing record and two of his teams notched 20 wins as the 1974-75 team went 21-6, while the 1977-78 team went 21-7. In fact, USU's 21-6 record during the 1974-75 campaign was the second-best mark in school history at the time and Belnap was honored by being named the National Association of Basketball Coaches District Seven Coach of the Year. Furthermore, the 1974-75 team won a then-school record 13-straight games and finished the season ranked 13th in the final United Press International (UPI) Board of Coaches Poll. USU's 1977-78 team also finished the season in the nation's top 20, ranking 17th in the UPI Board of Coaches Poll as that team set the then-school record for shooting in a season at 51.1 percent. In his final season as USU's head men's basketball coach, Belnap led the Aggies to a 19-11 record and another NCAA Tournament appearance in their first year as a member of the Pacific Coast Athletic Association, as they tied for second in the league and had three players garner all-conference honors. During his head coaching tenure, Belnap coached five players who were drafted into the NBA, along with another player who set the school record for assists with 562, a record that still stands today. He is also one of just three head coaches to post an undefeated home season as his 1973-74 club went a perfect 14-0 at home. Belnap's teams also won the Old Oquirrh Bucket (the state's collegiate basketball championship trophy) in 1975 and 1976 and his teams combined to post a 9-3 record against BYU. In addition to being a basketball coach at Utah State, Belnap spent three seasons (1969-71) as the head men's tennis coach. In those three years, the Aggies compiled a 31-10 record, including a then-school record 16 wins in 1970 as he sent five players to the NCAA Tournament that year, USU’s only NCAA Tournament participation in the sport.
Hometown: Honeyville, Utah
Sport: Track and Field
Years: 1993, 1996-98
One of the most decorated track athletes in Utah State history, Bingham was a two-time All-American and is one of just 17 track and field athletes in school history to earn multiple All-America honors. As a senior in 1998, Bingham earned All-American honors during the indoor season in the mile, finishing 10th with a time of 4:09.76. Bingham also earned All-American honors during the 1997 outdoor season by finishing ninth in the 1,500 meters and qualified for the 1998 NCAA Outdoor Championships in the same event. Along with being a two-time All-American, Bingham was a three-time Big West Conference champion in the 1,500 meters as a sophomore, junior and senior, while earning second-team all-conference honors in the 3,000-meter steeplechase twice and second-team all-league honors in cross-country three times. During his senior season, Bingham recorded the top-three times in the indoor mile and still holds the school record in that event with a time of 4:02.17. Bingham was also a member of the indoor distance medley relay team that set the then-school record with a time of 9:58.00, a mark that still ranks third in school history. His best time in the 1,500 meters during the outdoor season was 3:43.64, a mark that ranks second all-time at USU, while his time of 1:49.86 in the 800m ranked second all-time in school history at the time and still ranks seventh all-time. During his collegiate career, Bingham helped Utah State win Big West Conference Outdoor Championships in 1996 and 1998, along with a runner-up finish in 1997, a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Indoor Championship in 1993 and a Big West Conference Championship in cross-country in 1992. As a junior, Bingham set two stadium records, winning the indoor mile at Montana State and winning the 1,500 meters at the Utah Collegiate Meet, hosted by Weber State. In fact, Bingham won the 1,500 meters at the Utah Collegiate Meet (the only meet that included competitors from each Division I program in the state) three-consecutive years. In all, Bingham claimed medalist honors in the 1,500 meters 19 times in his career, including eight times as a senior.
Hometown: Logan, Utah
Regarded as the best tight end in Utah State football history, Cooley earned honorable mention All-American honors from The Associated Press following his senior season in 2003, as he led all tight ends in the nation with 62 receptions for 732 yards and six touchdowns. Cooley, who also earned first-team all-Sun Belt Conference honors as a senior, led USU in all receiving categories that season as he was named a semifinalist for the John Mackey Award, which is presented annually to the top tight end in the nation. Cooley finished his USU career ranking first all-time in school history among tight ends with 96 receptions, 1,255 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. During his senior season, Cooley caught a career-high two touchdowns in back-to-back games against North Texas and Arkansas State, and he had a career-high 10 receptions for 125 yards against Idaho in his final collegiate game. As a junior, he had back-to-back 100-yard receiving games with seven catches for a career-high 134 yards against Troy and five receptions for 105 yards with one touchdown against Middle Tennessee. Overall, Cooley caught at least two passes in each of his final 17 games as an Aggie. Following his collegiate career, Cooley was selected in the third round (81st pick) of the 2004 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins. During his nine-year NFL career (2004-12), Cooley was named to the 2007 and 2008 Pro Bowl and set the franchise record for most receptions by a tight end as he finished his career with 429 catches for 4,711 yards with 33 touchdowns. In his second season in the NFL, Cooley set the Redskins' single-season record for receptions as he caught 71 passes for 774 yards with six touchdowns. He later set career highs during the 2008 season as he caught 83 passes for 849 yards, and he set an NFL record by being the only tight end in league history to have six or more touchdowns in each of his first four seasons.
Hometown: Palestine, Texas
Arguably the greatest gymnast to ever compete at Utah State, Christy Denson-Pettiette was a 10-time all-Big West Conference performer and five-time Big West champion, capturing two all-around titles in 1999 and 2000, two bars titles in 1998 and 2000 and one beam title in 1999. As a senior in 2000, Denson-Pettiette won the Big West all-around crown with a conference-record score of 39.525. Denson-Pettiette was also tabbed the Big West Gymnast of the Year as a junior in 1999 and again as a senior in 2000, to go along with being voted Utah State’s Female Athlete of the Year in 1998, 1999 and 2000. Denson-Pettiette's name is all over the school record books as she ranks first in the all-around with a 39.550, first on floor with a 9.975 and tied for first all-time on bars with a 9.975. Her bars average of 9.856 set in 1999 still ranks first all-time, while she also has the sixth- and ninth-best beam averages (9.773 and 9.714, respectively) and 11th- and 12th-best floor averages (9.795 and 9.792, respectively). During her sophomore season in 1998, Denson-Pettiette became just the ninth gymnast in Aggie history to qualify for the NCAA Championships in Los Angeles, California, as an at-large competitor, placing 31st in the all-around with a score of 37.550. During her collegiate career, Denson-Pettiette helped Utah State qualify for four-straight NCAA Regional Championships, finishing as high as third in 1999, while also winning the 1998 Big West Championship. In fact, that third-place finish at the 1999 NCAA Regionals is USU's highest-ever team finish.
Hometown: Cheyenne, Wyo.
Gordy was the first soccer player in school history to earn all-conference accolades as she was named honorable mention all-Big West as a freshman in 1997, earned second-team honors as a sophomore in 1998 and garnered first-team accolades as both a junior and senior in 1999 and 2000, respectively. In her career, Gordy played in all but two games, making 67 appearances on the pitch with 66 career starts and earned Big West Conference Player of the Week honors three times. At the conclusion of her senior season, Gordy held the school record in career goals (35) and total points (76), which now rank second and third, respectively, and still holds the school record for shots on goal with 185 in her four seasons. She was also the team’s leading goal scorer in three of her four seasons, where she still ranks second (13) and fifth (11) in single-season goals scored and third (28) and eighth (24) in single-season points. In a 9-2 win against Wisconsin-Green Bay during her junior season, Gordy became the first player in school history to record three goals in a game and is currently one of just eight USU players to have a hat trick performance. As a sophomore, Gordy ranked second in the Big West in goals scored (13) and sixth in total points (28). The next year, she remained ranked in both categories, finishing tied for third in goals scored (11) and fifth in points (24). As a senior, she tied for seventh in the conference in goals scored (five) and 11th in points (10) on the season.
Hometown: Smithfield, Utah
Sport: Men's Basketball
The only men’s basketball player in school history to earn three first-team all-conference citations, Harris was a four-year letterwinner for the Aggies from 2003-06, and he holds the school record for career field goal percentage, shooting 64.1 percent (588-of-918). During his career, Harris helped Utah State to an overall record of 96-30 (.762), including a 55-6 (.902) home record, and four NCAA postseason appearances, including three showings in the NCAA Tournament and one NIT selection. In fact, Harris was the first player in school history to play in three NCAA Tournaments. USU also posted a 53-17 (.757) conference record during Harris' career in the Big West and Western Athletic Conferences as the Aggies won Big West Tournament titles in 2003 and 2005 and tied for the regular season Big West championship in 2004. Furthermore, USU posted a 10-3 (.769) mark against in-state opponents with Harris from 2003-06, which included a 6-3 record against BYU and Utah. During the course of his career, Harris scored 1,475 points and collected 722 rebounds, 220 assists, 95 steals and 90 blocks, and he is the only player in school history to finish his career with more than 1,300 points, 600 rebounds, 200 assists and 90 blocks. Harris still ranks fifth all-time in school history in career blocks (90), sixth in games played (126), seventh in double-figure scoring games (77), eighth in both total minutes (3,422) and field goals made (588), 10th in career rebounds (722) and 12th all-time in career points (1,475). In all, Harris had 17 career 20-point games and 13 career double-doubles. Harris led the Aggies in scoring and rebounding as a senior, averaging 17.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, respectively, en route to being named first-team all-WAC. That season, Harris scored in double figures in all but two games and totaled eight double-doubles. He finished the season with 553 points, the 24th-most in a single season in school history, including a career-high 33 points at Fresno State. As a senior, he shot 62.1 percent from the field, the seventh-best mark in school history. As a junior, Harris finished second in the nation and led the Big West in field goal percentage, shooting 65.2 percent, fifth all-time in a single season in school history. Furthermore, Harris averaged 13.0 points per game and 6.0 rebounds per contest, scoring in double figures 23 times, including 11 straight during one stretch, earning first-team all-Big West honors. Harris set a USU single season field goal percentage record and led the nation as a sophomore, shooting 67.7 percent from the floor, while averaging 11.7 points and 6.1 rebounds per game en route to becoming the first Aggie to be named first-team all-Big West as a sophomore. During the year, Harris scored in double figures 19 times, including nine straight in one stretch, as he was also named the league's Sixth Man of the Year. Harris appeared in 33 games as a freshman and averaged 5.1 points and 3.2 rebounds per game and was named to the Big West All-Freshman Team. From his sophomore to senior seasons, Harris recorded three of the top seven single-season shooting performances in school history and was named conference player of the week five times, including a school-record-tying three times in a three-week period during his sophomore season. Following his collegiate career, Harris spent two seasons playing professionally overseas in Germany.
Hometown: Provo, Utah
Sport: Head Men's Basketball Coach
Morrill’s name is synonymous with the success of Utah State men’s basketball. Morrill, who was hired as Utah State's 17th head coach on August 7, 1998, guided the Aggie program to 14 straight seasons with at least 21 wins from 2000 to 2013 and 13 straight postseason appearances from 2000 to 2012, both of which are school records. Prior to Morrill's run, USU had never posted more than three-straight 20-win seasons and had never participated in more than three-straight postseason appearances. Along the way, Morrill led Utah State to seven conference championships (2000, 2002, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011), including four-straight in the Western Athletic Conference from 2008-11 and six conference postseason titles (2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2009 and 2011), while posting 12 of the top 13 seasons in school history in terms of wins. For all of his success, Morrill was named conference coach of the year five times during his Utah State tenure, winning the Big West honor in 2000 and 2002, while being named the WAC's Coach of the Year in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Morrill was also nationally recognized during his time at USU as he was named the 2011 Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year by CollegeInsider.com. Morrill, who is the Aggies' all-time winningest coach with 402 victories, is also the school record holder in career games coached at 558, and he ranks as the second-longest tenured head basketball coach in school history. During his 17 years at Utah State, Morrill's team's recorded an amazing 402-156 (.720) record, which included a 204-81 (.716) conference mark. USU also posted an unbelievable 248-32 (.886) home record under Morrill, which included a 122-22 (.847) mark in conference play. Morrill's teams also went 46-20 (.697) against in-state opponents during his 17 years and recorded a 26-11 (.702) record in conference tournaments. At Utah State, Morrill coached four different players who earned All-American honors five times in Tony Brown (2001), Jaycee Carroll, (2007, 2008), Gary Wilkinson (2009) and Tai Wesley (2011), while Carroll (2008), Wilkinson (2009) and Wesley (2011) were named WAC Players of the Year. Furthermore, Carroll became the school's all-time scoring leader with 2,522 points and set 10 school records under Morrill, the most by any player in Aggie history. Overall, Morrill coached 15 first-team all-league players at Utah State who won the award a total of 21 times and 22 players who earned various all-conference honors a total of 36 times, while 22 players earned academic all-conference honors a total of 38 times under Morrill's leadership. In just his second season as Utah State's head coach during the 1999-2000 season, Morrill guided the Aggies to a 28-6 record, including a perfect 16-0 mark in the Big West Conference, setting school records for overall and conference wins. During the season, USU also set the school record for consecutive wins as it won 19 straight games. The following season, Morrill again led Utah State to a 28-6 record and its second-straight conference tournament championship, followed by the school's first NCAA Tournament win in 31 years after posting a 77-68 overtime victory against Ohio State. Morrill's 2003-04 squad was his first of three nationally-ranked teams, as that group was ranked for five weeks and climbed as high as 19th in the nation in The Associated Press poll, its first ranking in the AP poll since 1971. The 2003-04 team finished the season with a 25-4 record and went 17-1 in Big West play to set the school record for conference wins. Utah State's most successful run under Morrill was from 2008 to 2011 as the Aggies won four-straight WAC titles and advanced to the NCAA Tournament three-straight years from 2009 to 2011. Along with winning the WAC's regular season and tournament championship during the 2008-09 season, Morrill's team also set the school record for victories as it finished the year with a 30-5 record and was nationally ranked for back-to-back weeks, climbing as high as No. 19 in the AP poll. Two years later, the 2010-11 team again won the WAC's regular season and tournament championships after posting a 30-4 record to tie the school record for wins. The 2010-11 team was also nationally ranked for the final nine weeks of the season and finished the year ranked No. 25 in the nation in the final ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll, marking the first time since 1978 and only the eighth time in school history that an Aggie team was nationally ranked at the end of the year. Along with having three different nationally-ranked teams, Morrill also had three of the best offensive teams in the nation during his tenure at Utah State as his teams led the country in field goal percentage during the 2004-05 (.525), 2007-08 (.514) and 2008-09 (.496) seasons, while the 2007-08 team also led the nation in free throw shooting (.792). Overall, Morrill coached for 40 seasons, including 29 as a head coach with stops at Montana and Colorado State prior to taking over at Utah State and is among the top 50 in NCAA history with 620 career victories. During his illustrious career, Morrill won 20 or more games on 18 different occasions and was involved in postseason action 16 times as he won seven coach of the year awards in three different conferences.
Doug Hoffman is the associate athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.