Featuring former outstanding student-athletes from all 12 Southeastern Conference member institutions, the 2006 class of the SEC Greats Program will be honored at the SEC Women's Basketball Tournament March 2-5 at alltel Arena in North Little Rock, Ark. announced SEC Commissioner Mike Slive.
"We are excited to continue this program and to showcase the talent in women's athletics in the Southeastern Conference," Slive said. "Honoring these former standouts gives the conference the opportunity to thank those who helped establish the rich athletic tradition in our conference."
The 2006 class includes Penney Hauschild Buxton (Gymnastics), Alabama; Bettye Fiscus Dickey (Basketball), Arkansas; Carolyn Jones (Basketball), Auburn; Paula Welch (Basketball), Florida; Teresa Edwards (Basketball), Georgia; Patty Jo Hedges Ward (Basketball), Kentucky; Sue Gunter (Basketball), LSU; Jennifer Gillom (Basketball), Ole Miss; Polly Branch Pund (Basketball), Mississippi State; Kristy McPherson (Golf), South Carolina; Kara Lawson (Basketball), Tennessee; Jackie Cowan Ransom (Basketball), Vanderbilt.
Each Great will be introduced during half-time of their teams first game of the tournament, all 12 individuals will also be introduced as a group between games of the second session on Friday, March 3. The Greats will then participate in an autograph session at the Dr Pepper SEC Fan Fare, located at alltel Arena before game eight. Complimentary posters of the Greats will be available at the session.
Also on Friday, March 3, the Greats will honored with a breakfast in Little Rock. More information on this program will be available at a later date.
This marks the sixth year of the Greats program. The previous honorees were: 2001 - Niesa Johnson, Alabama; Ruthie Bolton-Holifield, Auburn; Delisha Milton, Florida; Courtney Shealy, Georgia; Tiffany Waite, Kentucky; Esther Jones, LSU; Genevieve Chapman, Ole Miss; Angela Taylor, Mississippi State; Charmaine Howell, South Carolina; Bridgette Gordon, Tennessee; Jim Foster, Vanderbilt. 2002 - Lilli Leatherwood, Alabama; Wendi Willits, Arkansas; Reita Clanton, Auburn; Merlakia Jones, Florida; La'Keshia Frett, Georgia; Valerie Still, Kentucky; Madeline Doucet West, LSU; Keil Purdom, Ole Miss; Kunshinge Sorrell Howard, Mississippi State; Trinity Johnson, South Carolina; Daedra Charles, Tennessee; Sheri Sam, Vanderbilt. 2003 - Linda Burgess, Alabama; Amber Shirey, Arkansas; Marianne Merritt Melton, Auburn; Tammy Jackson, Florida; Cornelia Gayden, LSU; Sheila Sullivan-Hickman, Ole Miss; LaCharlotte Smith, Mississippi State; Dawn Ellerbe, South Carolina; Michelle Marciniak, Tennessee; Wendy Scholtens-Woods, Vanderbilt. 2004 - Yolanda Watkins, Alabama; Christi Smith Flowers, Arkansas; Vicki Orr Wiley, Auburn; Brandi McCain, Florida; Sherelle Warren, Georgia; Leslie Nichols, Kentucky; Dana "Pokey" Chatman, LSU; Glenda Springfield Scott, Ole Miss; Wanda Calhoun Carter, Mississippi State; Sheila Foster, South Carolina; Jill Rankin Schneider, Tennessee; Heidi Gillingham, Vanderbilt. 2005 - Pauline Davis Thompson, Alabama; Tracy Webb Rice, Arkansas; Mae Ola Bolton, Auburn; Talatha Bingham, Florida; Katrina McClain, Georgia; Lisa Collins, Kentucky; Julie Gross Stoudemire, LSU; Kimsey O'Neal Cooper, Ole Miss; Sharon Thompson, Mississippi State; Shannon Johnson, South Carolina; Tamika Catchings, Tennessee; Barbara Brackman Capobianco, Vanderbilt.
Biographical sketches of the 2006 honorees follow.
Penney Hauschild Buxton, Alabama (Gymnastics, 1983-86)
Penney Hauschild Buxton was the first woman ever to win back-to-back NCAA championships (1985-86) and was a two-time Broderick Award winner as best collegiate gymnast in the country. She also represented the United States twice in the World University Games. A 10-time All-American, she was the NCAA champion on both the Uneven Bars (1985) and the Floor Exercise (1986). She was also named SEC Athlete of the Year in 1985.
Bettye Fiscus Dickey, Arkansas (Basketball, 1981-85)
Bettye Fiscus Dickey set the definition by which all other Arkansas women's basketball players are judged. In a career of firsts, Fiscus received perhaps her final and most unique honor in 1994 when she became the first female athlete inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Honor. Fiscus was the first player to score over 1,000 points in a career, and broke the school record in only two seasons. She went on to become the only Lady'Back over 2,000 points, and until Razorback all-American and NBA standout Todd Day in the early 1990s Fiscus was the University's all-time leading scorer.
Carolyn "C.J." Jones, Auburn (Basketball, 1989-91)
C.J. was a two-time Kodak All-American for the Tigers (1990 and 1991) and the first person in SEC history to be named the SEC Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons. Jones remains Auburn's fourth-best scorer with a career 1,831 points and still holds the record for points in a season with 703. In addition to her All-America honors, Jones was named the Alabama Female Athlete of the Year, a finalist for the Champion/WBCA and Naismith Player of the Year and the 1990 SEC Tournament Most Valuable Player. Internationally in 1990, the Laurel, Miss., native helped the U.S. capture a title in the World Championships and Goodwill Games. Following her career at Auburn, Jones helped lead the 1992 U.S. Olympic team to a bronze medal.
Paula Welch, Florida (Basketball, 1974-76)
In July 1974, Dr. Paula Welch was hired to coach the Lady Gator basketball team and teach in the Women's Physical Education Department. Players soon dubbed her "Dr. Coach." Welch became the first "official" women's basketball coach because the club had been elevated to team status when she took over the program.
Teresa Edwards, Georgia (Basketball, 1982-86)
For more than three decades, Teresa Edwards was one of the premier players in the world. Edwards was a two-time All-American at Georgia where she led the Lady Bulldogs to a combined record of 116-17, an NCAA runner-up finish in 1985, another Final Four appearance in 1983 and SEC Championships in 1983, ‘84 and ‘86. The summer following her sphomore year, Edwards earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic team for the Los Angeles Games. In 2000, she captained the U.S. team to a Gold Medal at the Sydney Games, her fifth Olympics. She is the only basketball player to represent the U.S. in five Olympics.
Patty Jo Hedges Ward, Kentucky (Basketball, 1979-83)
Patty Jo Hedges is one of the most recognizable names in Kentucky women's basketball annals. The point guard donned the Blue and White from 1979-83, finishing her career with an impressive 1,176 points, 441 rebounds, 731 assists and 272 steals. Hedges ranks 16th all-time in scoring and is still the school's all-time assists leader. She dished out a single-game record for assists at UK with 16 vs. Cincinnati in 1982 and led the team in assists each of her four seasons. She also was a solid defender, charting 272 steals which ranks third all-time in school history. Hedges was named to the 1982 SEC All-Tournament team after helping the Cats win their first SEC Tournament championship. She started all but 14 games of her career.
Sue Gunter, LSU (Basketball, 1983-2004)
Sue Gunter, a Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer and a Women's Basketball Hall of Famer, finished her career with 708 victories, the fourth most in women's basketball history. She collected 442 of this wins while serving 22 seasons as the head coach of the LSU Lady Tigers. During her stint at LSU, the Lady Tigers won two SEC tournament titles and advanced to 14 NCAA Tournaments with one Final Four appearance. Gunter also served as the 1980 USA Olympic head coach and was an assistant coach at the 1976 Olympic Games.
Jennifer Gillom, Ole Miss (Basketball, 1982-86)
One of the most accomplished players in the history of Lady Rebel basketball, Jennifer Gillom's name still can be seen at or near the top of several single-season and career records, including her 2,186 career points which is second only to her sister, current Ole Miss assistant Peggie Gillom-Granderson. The two sisters are the only Lady Rebels to ever score more than 2,000 points in a career. A three-time All-SEC first-team selection, Gillom earned SEC Female Athlete of the Year and All-America honors. She also played on the USA Women's Basketball Team which captured the gold medal at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.
Polly Branch Pund, Mississippi State (Basketball, 1982-87)
Polly Branch Pund became the first Lady Bulldog to contribute both as an athlete and an assistant coach for the Mississippi State women's basketball program. During her playing career she became the fourth Lady Bulldog to reach 1,000 career points, still sitting in sixth place on the all-time chart with 1,518. She still ranks fifth in assists (391), ninth in steals (159) and 10th in blocks (40), 18 years after graduating. She was a three-time Academic all-SEC honoree, graduating from State in accounting in 1986 and then earned a master's degree in business administration in 1988. Upon graduation, Pund became the first Lady Bulldog to move into coaching under then head coach Brenda Paul from 1987-89. She helped coach the 1987-88 team to a 19-13 record, the most wins in program history at the time. That team also went on to receive a WNIT bid, only the second postseason bid in program history.
Kristy McPherson, South Carolina (Golf, 1999-2003)
One of the most decorated players in the history of South Carolina women¹s golf competed for the Gamecocks from 1999-2003, re-writing the record books in the process. A three-time All-America honoree in 2001, 2002 and 2003, she was also recognized as the 2003 SEC Golfer of the Year. An Individual medalist at the SEC Championships in 2001 and 2002, she helped lead the Gamecocks to the 2002 SEC Championship.
Kara Lawson, Tennessee (Basketball, 1999-2003)
Far and away the most prolific long-range shooter in Tennessee history, Lawson connected on 256 shots from over her career . Following her senior season she was name a Kodak All-American and was picked by the coaches as a first-team All-SEC member for the forth consecutive season. She raised her career-point total to 1,950, ranking her fourth on UT's all-time list. Awarded the prestigious Frances Pomeroy Naismith award for the premier senior women's basketball player 5'8'' or under, Lawson was also the recipient of the SEC Community Service Postgraduate Scholarship. Tabbed as a Verizon first-team Academic All-American in 2003, she was also named the Arthur Ashe Female Student-Athlete of the Year for her work on the hardwood and in classroom.
Jackie Cowan Ransom, Vanderbilt (Basketball, 1983-86)
Jackie Cowan was a high-scoring forward who still ranks fourth on Vanderbilt's all-time career scoring charts. Cowan is also still listed among the top 10 in nearly every Commodore scoring category. She was voted to the Coaches' All-SEC team in 1986, the SEC's all-tournament team in 1986 and was twice an All-America pick by the American Sports Federation.