On Feb. 13, the University of North Georgia (UNG) Department of Athletics honored four alumni with induction into the sixth class of its Athletics Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony was held during a luncheon that recognized the achievements of former student-athletes Anthony Harris, Melissa Johnson, Hugh Mills, Jr. and Casey Smith.
"We are excited to honor this year's class of the Athletics Hall of Fame," UNG Director of Athletics Lindsay Reeves said. "The collective contributions that this group has made to the legacy of UNG athletics are remarkable, and it is an honor to welcome them back and to add their names to this special group of all-time UNG greats."
The induction ceremony preceded a Peach Belt Conference (PBC) basketball doubleheader against Georgia College & State University, where the newest Hall of Fame inductees and the 22 previous inductees were recognized at halftime of the women's game.
Harris, from the class of '76, in his two seasons led the basketball team to a 42-16 record, including a Georgia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship in the 1973-74 season. In his career, he averaged a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds and still holds single game and single season rebounding records at UNG with 21 and 326 rebounds, respectively. As an assistant coach, he helped lead the program to three conference championships, then was head coach at the former Gainesville State College for two seasons, leading the team to a 27-3 record in 1982-83.
Johnson, from the class of '01, helped lead the softball program to its first-ever postseason appearances in 1999 and 2000 with berths in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Regionals. During her career she was a four-time All-Conference player in the Georgia-Alabama-Carolina Conference (GACC) and a three-time All-Region selection. Following her senior season, she was named the GACC Player of the Year and earned second team NAIA All-American honors. She continues to hold the career record for doubles at UNG with 68 and is third in career RBIs with 164.
Mills, from the class of '43, played basketball from 1941-43. After graduating, he went on to be a successful coach at the high school level in both basketball and track. In 1965, he was named the founding president of then-Gainesville Junior College, which became the University of North Georgia in 2013, and held that position until his retirement in 1984. The physical education complex on UNG's Gainesville Campus is named in his honor, and in 2003, he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Smith, from the class of '10, was the first-ever National College Athletic Association All-American from the women's soccer program, and she is the only student-athlete in program history to earn All-American honors twice. Smith was named to the Peach Belt All-Conference team three times. Smith was an All-American on the National Soccer Coaches Association of America second-team, and a third-team Daktronics All-American in her senior year. She still holds the PBC career assists record with 44 assists in four years.
UNG's Athletics Hall of Fame honors individuals who have earned outstanding athletic achievement or made substantial contributions to the university. A nine-member board of directors is responsible for operations of the Athletics Hall of Fame and serves as selectors for all honorees, based upon nominations.