Illinois announced on Thursday the formation of the University of Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame.
“The Hall of Fame will recognize and honor the greatest student-athletes, coaches and administrators in the illustrious history of Fighting Illini Athletics, which stretches more than 120 years,” a release from the athletic department said.
The department also announced one of the the inaugural members, former Fighting Illini football player and legendary linebacker Dick Butkus.
— Illini Football (@IlliniFootball) October 27, 2016
The announcement came after Illini Athletic Director Josh Whitman Tweeted this earlier this morning.
— Josh Whitman (@IlliniAD) October 27, 2016
Butkus was a two-time All-American linebacker, finished his college career with 374 total tackles.
In the NFL, with the Chicago Bears, Butkus played eight years and was a pro bowler in all of them while being selected all-league six times.
In 1985, the Butkus Award, given to the nation’s top linebacker in high school, college and the pros was created in his name.
“The University of Illinois has played an extremely important role in my life,” Butkus said in the release. “I have many life-long relationships that began at the U of I and have always been proud to call myself a Fighting Illini. To be recognized in the inaugural class of the Athletics Hall of Fame is a terrific feeling. I’m very proud of what my teams and I accomplished, including the 1963 Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl victory. Thank you for this honor.”
As for the hall of fame itself, the entire inaugural class will be announced in February, with the induction ceremony coming over the weekend of Sept. 29-30 of next year.
Eligibility for the hall of fame comes five years after an athlete’s career at Illinois end and there are certain accomplishments that automatically qualify an athlete for consideration.
That eligibility makes for over 1,000 athletes that are eligible for consideration and fans can submit more names here.
The selection committee, plans for housing the hall of fame, details on events and the size/sports including in the inaugural class will be announced at later dates.