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  • James "Boots" Donnelly

    Inducted: 1993
    Sports: Football, Baseball

    If James F. "Boots" Donnelly had a mantra, it would be "hard work brings success." It's a philosophy he applies in his personal, athletic and coaching lives. An MT defensive back during three winning seasons under Coach Charles "Bubber" Murphy in the 1960s, Donnelly honed his coaching craft at Father Ryan High School and Vanderbilt University in Nashville and Austin Peay in Clarksville, Tenn. As head football coach at MT from 1979-98, his 140-87-1 record led to multiple accolades and repeated OVC championships.

    As AD, Donnelly took Blue Raider football to prominence in its early I-A years. He also spearheaded improvements to MT's athletic complex, including renovation of the tennis facilities and construction of the women's basketball locker room as well as renovation of the Alumni Gym and the securing of $1.5 million for the Rose and Emmett Kennon Blue Raider Hall of Fame.

    Class of 2013

    Dewon Brazelton
    Baseball

    Roger Carroll
    Football

    Dwone Hicks
    Football

    Priscilla Robinson Murray
    Basketball, Volleyball

    James "Doug" Shrader
    Basketball, Baseball

    History of the Hall of Fame

    In the early spring of 1975, a pair of long-time supporters of Middle Tennessee State University's athletic program decided that the University should honor its greatest athletes. Homer Pittard, alumni director, and Gene Sloan, public relations director, came up with the idea and asked sports information director Jim Freeman to join them in setting up an athletic hall of fame.

    After getting approval for the Hall of Fame from President M. G. Scarlett, the trio began laying the groundwork to select the first inductees. Others, including Bob Womack and Joe Nunley, were also involved.

    "We decided not to have categories but to put all candidates in one group," said Freeman. "We also decided against inducting a large group to start with and felt that three per year was the ideal number. That way, everyone got a good share of the spotlight."

    The nominating and voting for the first several years was done by members of the old "T" Club, now reorganized and called the Varsity Club. Nominations were solicited, and the the list of candidates was mailed to the voters. They selected Horace Jones, Charles "Bubber" Murphy and Teddy Morris as the initial inductees in 1976.

    The Blue Raider Hall of Fame was originally housed in the old Blue Raider Room under the west side of the football stadium. It had to be torn down when then stadium was expanded in 1998. After several years without a home, the Hall of Fame moved into the new Rose and Emmett Kennon Sports Hall of Fame building in 2004.