Former legends will be immortalized in 2021

Jeff Blashill headlines seven-member Bulldog Hall of Fame class

Seven more members of Ferris athletics have now been immortalized as Bulldogs legends after being announced as the latest inductees to the Bulldog Athletics Hall of Fame.

In an announcement made by Ferris athletics on Monday, seven individuals representing six different sports were inducted into the Ferris State Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2020. The class is headlined by current Detroit Red Wings Head Coach Jeff Blashill, who played for the Bulldogs from 1994-1998.

The original induction date was set for October 16, but these inductees will be waiting until 2021 for the induction ceremony as a decision to postpone the ceremony was made due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Ferris State Athletics Director Perk Weisenburger explained the reasoning behind the postponement in a press release.

“With the ongoing pandemic, this was the right decision at this time to ensure the safety of not only our inductees but also their families, friends, and guests,” Weisenburger said. “This is a highly-distinguished class of inductees and the current situation isn’t ideal to fully recognize and honor their many contributions and achievements in the proper way. We look forward to welcoming them back to a safe, healthy and vibrant campus in 2021 for the induction ceremony and to safely celebrate all their achievements and success with families, friends, former teammates, and supporters.”

Accompanying Blashill in the class are Lucy (DeMartin) Prior (Women’s Basketball, 2000-04), Dannie Hayes (Men’s Basketball, 1991-95), Tianna Kirkland (Women’s Basketball/Track & Field, 1997-01), Chris Kunitz (Hockey, 1999-03), Brad Morris (Wrestling, 1985-89) and the late Gideon Smith (Football, 1910-11), who is likely to be represented by his grandson John Belcher.

The class includes four individuals who earned All-American honors at Ferris, including Prior, Kirkland, Kunitz and Morris along with one of the top men’s basketball scorers in school history in Hayes and the current head coach of the Detroit Red Wings in Blashill. Kunitz is a four time Stanley Cup Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist and Smith was an early college football pioneer as one of the school’s first African American players.

Smith is also currently on the ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame.

All members of the class are expected to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame in a ceremony planned to take place this fall. This is subject to change as navigating the COVID-19 crisis continues to be a fluid process.

Along with those expected to be inducted this fall was the announcement that two-time Harlon Hill winning QB Jason Vander Laan was also inducted into the Hall of Fame after the mandatory 10-year waiting period was waived.

Despite this, Vander Laan decided to forego this year’s induction for another year in the future, citing his desire to attend the induction ceremony in-person as he continues his professional career.

The Bulldog Athletics Hall of Fame, which inducted its Charter Class in 2000, was established to honor those student-athletes and coaches who have distinguished themselves in their sport or honorary members who made truly exceptional contributions to athletics. A 13-member selection committee comprised of faculty, staff, alumni, and community members selected the 2020 inductees from a large group of initial nominees.

One final person recognized this year was Carma Burcham, who was awarded the Athletics Special Service award. She was a longtime supporter of Bulldog Athletics and a dedicated employee at Ferris. Burcham served as the school’s coordinator of records and NCAA eligibility for more than 30 years.

Burcham is the fifth person to receive the Bulldog Athletics Hall of Fame Special Service Award and the first since 2011.