Don Nixon, one of the most successful and colorful, men’s basketball coaches in University of Central Arkansas history, will be one of eight new inductees into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame at its 55th indudction banquet on Friday, March 8, at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock.
For the first time in history, the new class includes two female members, former University of Central Arkansas golfer and LPGA star Stacy Lewis and former Arkansas State basketball standout Sonja Tate.
Also to be indicuted are former West Memhis basketball star Marcus Brown, sports business executive Jeremy Jacobs, former Arkansas track standout Frank O’Mara, state golf legend Wyn Norwood and the late John Outlaw, a UCA graduate and former highly successful high school coach in Arkansas and Texas.
Nixon, a UCA Sports Hall of Fame member, had a coaching career that spanned Pulaski Robinson High School, Mabelvale High School, Little Rock Central High School and the University of Central Arkansas. After coaching at the junior high level from 1959-67, Nixon coached the boys team at Little Rock Central High School from 1968-72 and the men’s team at UCA from 1972-79. Nixon’s Central Tigers won the Class AAAA state championship in 1970 and 1972 along with winning the state’s first overall championship in 1972.
Outlaw, who died of a heart attack in December of 2011, went 84-20-1 in nine seasons at Arkadelphia, winning state titles in 1979 and 1987. His undefeated 1987 team was the first Arkansas school ever to be ranked in the USA Today Super 25. After moving to Texas, Outlaw’s teams went 57-21-1 at Sherman and 162-46-1 at Lufkin, giving him a 303-87-3 record.
Lewis, who was named last month by the Golf Writers Association of America as the 2012 Player of the Year for the LPGA, won four times in 2012 to become the first American since Beth Daniel in 1994 to finish first on the Rolex Player of the Year points list. She also had three runner-up finishes, including a share of second at the LPGA Championship. Lewis finished third on the LPGA money list in 2012, earning $1.87 million. She was the 2007 NCAA champion and won 13 tournaments at the collegiate level while putting the Arkansas women’s golf program on the map. Lewis earned All-American honors in each of her four years at Arkansas. She won Southeastern Conference championships in 2005 and 2008.
Tate, who played at ASU from 1989-93, remains the career scoring leader at ASU with 2,312 points. In addition to being the school’s career scoring leader, Tate holds the single-season scoring record with 820 points during the 1992-93 season. She has the top five single-game scoring performances at ASU. Tate remains the only ASU women’s player to have scored 40 or more points in a game, a feat she accomplished five times.
Brown is Murray State University’s third all-time leading scorer with 2,236 points and had a highly successful professional career in Europe. He ended his 13-year professional career as the Euroleague’s all-time leading scorer, winning five most valuable player awards. As a high school basketball player, he led West Memphis to the 1991 Class AAAA state championship and the overall championship. In his senior year at Murray State, Brown finished as the nation’s second-leading scorer behind California’s Shareef Abdur-Rahim. He was drafted in the second round of the 1996 NBA draft by Portland. After playing briefly at Portland, Vancouver and Detroit, he became the highest-paid American player ever in the Euroleague.
Jacobs, the owner of Southland Park at West Memphis, who is among the nation’s top business leaders. He has been the chairman of the NHL’s board of governors since 2007. Jacobs became the chairman and CEO of Delaware North in 1968. That company operates more than 50 professional sports venues around the world.
O’Mara, who was a star for legendary UA track coach John McDonnell, competed for the Irish national team in three Olympic Games – 1984 at Los Angeles, 1988 at Seoul and 1992 at Barcelona. At Arkansas, he was an All-American and Southwest Conference champion his sophomore and junior years and then became McDonnell’s first outdoor NCAA champion in 1983 when he won the 1,500-meter run at Houston. O’Mara was the world indoor champion twice in the 3,000-meter run.
Norwood, who was a two-time Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference golf champion while playing at Arkansas Tech and a longtime leader in the Arkansas State Golf Association, won three state amateur titles and participate in 14 national amateur championships. He revived the men’s program and started the women’s program at Arkansas-Little Rock. He spent his first 13 years at UALR as the head coach of both programs. He was named the Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year for both men’s and women’s golf in 1994. Those were the first of five such awards he would earn.
The new inductees were determined by both a vote of the organization’s overall membership and its board of directors from a submitted nomination list, culled from a long master list, by the board’s selection committee.