The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

75 years of MSSU Sports

September 18, 2012

Missouri Southern Hall of Fame began in 1984

Dave Evans, a senior tight end on Missouri Southern’s 1972 NAIA football championship team, made another contribution to the school just over 10 years after that title run.

He got the ball rolling on the Missouri Southern Athletics Hall of Fame.

“Dave Evans, who was on my staff at the time,” came up with the idea for the Hall of Fame,” said Jim Frazier, former head football coach and athletics director. “I contacted Aldo Sebben at SMS (Southwest Missouri State) and got a copy of their (hall of fame) bylaws, and we wrote our variation of their bylaws.”

Evans, also the president of the Missouri Southern Letterman Alumni Association at the time, announced Glen Wills as the first Hall of Fame inductee in 1984.

Wills, 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, played center in the final days of Joplin Junior College and the early days of Missouri Southern. He graduated in 1971 and went on to coach at Wisconsin-Whitewater before dying on New Year’s Day in 1981 of a brain tumor. He was 32 years old.

“Glen exemplified what we were looking for in an inductee,” Evans said at that time. “He was an outstanding individual. He was an overachiever who really had desire and enjoyed the game of football.”

Said teammate Al Potter: “Glen had pride, integrity, guts and a love for people and a love for Missouri Southern.”

Wills also was active in campus activities, and according to one report, his cool head helped avert a racial disturbance on the football team at one point in the 1970 season.

Since Wills’ induction, the Hall of Fame has grown to 101 members and two national championship teams — 1972 football and 1992 softball.

The hall of fame honors graduates who have shown distinctive, unique or exceptional ability while on camps or since graduation. People have also been inducted for meritorious service.

Bylaws require a lapse of at least 10 years between the final year of competition and hall of fame induction. An exception was made in 1995 when basketball player Chris Tucker was inducted a little more than a year after he was killed in an automobile accident in the summer of 1994.

Most of the early inductees were associated with football. In the first eight classes, nine of the 13 inductees were football players or coaches, and they were joined by basketball players John Thomas (1985) and Russell Bland (1991) and media members Don Gross and Wendell Redden.

Sallie Beard, who served as coach and athletics director at the school, was the first female inductee in 1992.

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75 years of MSSU Sports