Seven former student-athletes and coaches will be inducted into The University of Toledo Varsity ‘T’ Hall of Fame Friday, Jan. 16, in Savage Arena.
Social hour for the event will begin at 6 p.m. and dinner will follow at 7 p.m.
The Varsity ‘T’ Hall of Fame also will present the Distinguished Service Award to Chet Sullwold, who has worked on the game-day staff for UT football and basketball for 59 years, and to Mike Spiros, who served as a statistician for the men’s basketball team for 40 seasons.
Tickets for the induction dinner are $45 and can be purchased by calling the Athletic Development Office at 419.530.5087.
The 2015 Varsity ‘T’ Hall of Fame inductees are:Tom Amstutz, Football, player 1974-1976 and coach 1977-1986/1990-2008. He was a player, assistant coach and head coach for the Rockets for more than 30 years. During that time, perhaps no single person has been more associated with Rocket football than “Toledo Tom.” Undoubtedly, he made his greatest mark as head coach from 2001 to 2008, when he led the Rockets to two Mid-American Conference Championships, four West Division titles and four bowl appearances. Born and raised in the Glass City, Amstutz joined the Rockets as a walk-on in 1974, and other than a stint as an assistant at Navy from 1987 to 1989, he never left his hometown. He played three seasons on the offensive line, earning two letters. After his playing career finished, he joined the UT coaching staff and worked his way up, becoming the defensive coordinator in 1994. In his final season as coordinator in 2000, Amstutz built one of the greatest defenses in UT history, as the Rockets ranked No. 3 in the nation in both total defense and points allowed. The following year, he took over as head coach, leading Toledo to a MAC Championship and a victory over Cincinnati in the Motor City Bowl. In 2002, UT won the MAC West crown and earned another bowl appearance. In 2004, the Rockets again won the MAC Championship and gained another bowl berth. The 2005 season saw another division title and a bowl victory over UTEP in the GMAC Bowl. In his final season in 2008, Amstutz’s Rockets pulled off one of the most memorable upsets in school history, a 13-10 victory over Michigan in the Big House in Ann Arbor. Amstutz stepped down following the 2008 season, finishing with a career record as head coach of 58-41, 39-24 in MAC games. Both marks rank second in UT history behind the man he succeeded, Gary Pinkel. Tavares Bolden, Football, 1998-2001. Bolden was a two-time All-MAC quarterback, leading the Rockets to two MAC West Division titles as well as a MAC Championship crown in 2001. He was a first-team All-MAC selection in 2000 and earned second-team honors in 2001 (only the emergence of future NFL star Byron Leftwich at Marshall in 2001 kept him from repeating as the league’s top QB). Bolden took over the starting quarterback job midway through his sophomore season in 1999 and immediately transformed the UT offense. The Rockets were 24-5 in games in which he was the starting quarterback. His quick feet allowed him to throw on the run or take the ball up field himself, making him a nightmare for defenses. In his final three games in 1999, Bolden did not throw an interception, leading the Rockets to three consecutive victories and setting the tone for the next two seasons. In 2000, Bolden led Toledo to a 10-1 mark, including a 24-6 romp over Penn State and a share of the MAC West Division crown. He earned first-team All-MAC honors, completing 57 percent of his passes for 1,597 yards and 13 TDs against just four interceptions. He also ran for 464 yards, averaging 5.3 yards every time he ran the ball, and five touchdowns. More importantly, he was sacked just five times all year. His numbers were even better in 2001, as he led Toledo to a 10-2 mark, including a MAC Championship and a 24-16 victory over Cincinnati in the Motor City Bowl. He completed 214 of 319 passes, setting a then MAC record for completion percentage (67.1 percent). He threw for 2,466 yards and 13 scores, and also ran for 335 yards and four touchdowns. He came up big in his final game as a Rocket, rushing for 99 yards in the bowl win over Cincinnati, including bolts of 41 yards and a 28-yard TD run. Bolden, who made the MAC Academic Honor Roll in 2000, went on to play three seasons in the Canadian Football League with the Montreal Allouettes. Brett Kern, Football, 2004-07. Kern was, by just about any standard, the best punter in Toledo history. He averaged 42.3 yards per punt in his career, almost 1.5 yards more than the next best punter. As a senior in 2007, Kern averaged an amazing 46.13 yards per punt, the best in UT history, and was among three finalists for the Ray Guy Award as the nation’s best punter. Kern was Toledo’s punter for four seasons, assuming the position as a freshman. He averaged 40.6 yards in his rookie season. As a sophomore, Kern slipped a bit, averaging 39.5 yards per boot. He rebounded in his junior season, averaging 41.7 yards per kick, including 42.6 yards in the final eight games of the season. Kern really came into his own as a senior. He finished the season ranked No. 2 in the country with a 46.1 punting average, earning third-team All-America honors by the Associated Press and Rivals.com, as well as MAC Special Teams Player of the Year. Kern played in the Hula Bowl and the East-West Shrine Game. In addition, Kern was named second-team Academic All-District by the College Sports Information Directors of America with a 3.38 grade point average in geography and was a finalist for the Draddy Award given to the student-athlete with the best mix of academic and athletic achievement. At the team’s awards banquet, Kern was honored with the Findlay Family Service Award for outreach efforts to the Toledo community, and was the winner of the Gus Yeager Legacy Award for spiritual leadership on the team. After his Rocket career ended, Kern signed as a free agent with Denver and earned the job as starting punter. He averaged 46.7 yards per kick, the third-highest total in NFL history at the time. Kern then signed with the Tennessee Titans, where he has played ever since. In 2012, Kern set the franchise record with an average of 47.6 yards per punt. He averaged 43.6 yards per punt in 2013, landed 32 of 78 punts inside the 20-yard line, and was named the NFL’s best punter at mid-season by Sports Illustrated. Nick Moore, Basketball 1999-2003. He is the greatest three-point specialist in UT men’s basketball history. Moore ranks first in career three-pointers (276) and first in three-point field goal percentage (43.5 percent). His 276 triples are just one shy of the all-time MAC record. He holds the first, second and fifth spot for most three-pointers made in a season, including a record 89 treys in 2002-03. He ranks 10th all-time in scoring with 1,384 points with a high of 16.3 points per game as a senior in 2002-03. In his final home game, he torched Ball State for a career-high 38 points. After graduation, Moore played professional basketball in Europe for a number of seasons. Courtney Risinger, Basketball, 1998-2002. Risinger was a three-year starter for the women’s basketball team (1999-2000 through 2001-02), earning second-team All-MAC honors as a senior when she averaged 13.3 points per game. She was named Academic All-District in 2001-02 and three times made the MAC Academic Honor Roll. She was a member of the 1998-99 and 2000-01 Women’s Basketball MAC Championship teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Risinger ranks 18th in career scoring at UT (1,079 points), tied for third in three-point field goals (182), and fourth in three-point field goal percentage (37.9). She holds the record for three-point field goal percentage in a season at .450, and her 76 threes in 2001-02 ranks sixth all-time. Risinger’s single-game highlights include scoring 30 points against Northern Illinois and a UT record-tying eight three-pointers in that same game. Leslie Stong, Softball, 2005-2008. A three-time All-MAC honoree, Stong is the Rockets’ all-time leader in home runs (22), walks (102) and on-base percentage (.442), and is second in slugging percentage (.506). In other categories, she ranks fifth in hitting (.326) and total bases (273), tied for fifth in runs scored (96), seventh in RBIs (75) and 10th in hits (176). She played first base, making 1,011 putouts and 80 assists while committing just 17 errors in four seasons. On the MAC record board, she ranks first in career walks and seventh in career homers. As a freshman, Stong led the team with seven homers and was third in slugging percentage (.448) and on-base percentage (.374). In her sophomore season, she was named first-team All-MAC, hitting .337 and leading the team in hits (57), runs (29) and total bases (79). She also stole six bases. As a junior, Stong made second-team All-MAC, hitting .348 with six homers and sporting an on-base percentage of .490. She made second-team All-MAC as a senior, hitting .341 with four homers and 25 RBIs, and committing only one error at first base. Stong was the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee representative and sat on the Athletic Committee during her college years. She is the assistant softball coach at Lourdes University and is married to former Rocket football player and Varsity ‘T’ Hall of Fame member Bob Beemer. April Williams, Track & Field, 2003-2007. Williams was a two-time All-American who won four MAC track & field long jump and triple jump titles in her career. She earned All-America honors in both the long jump (2007) and triple jump (2006). She is still the school record holder in both indoor/outdoor long jump and triple jump. She finished her UT career ranked No. 2 all-time among MAC student-athletes in both jumping events. Williams started her career as a sprinter, but began coming into her own as a jumper in her sophomore year. By her junior season, she emerged as one of the top jumpers in the country. Williams was voted the MAC Indoor Field Event Performer of the Year at the 2006 MAC Indoor Championship after she won both the long jump (6.32m, 20’9”) and triple jump (12.94m, 42-5 1/2), setting the indoor meet record in long jump. She later earned All-America honors at the 2006 Indoor NCAA Championships in the long jump after finishing ninth overall with a leap of 20 feet, 9 3/4 inches. She won the women’s college long jump at the prestigious Penn Relays with a leap of 6.05m (19’10”) in 2006, and she took second place at the event as a senior with a leap of 20’4”. As a senior, Williams repeated the double championships at the 2007 MAC Outdoor Championship Meet, capturing the triple jump (42-7) and the long jump (19-8 1/4). She also set the school record in the outdoor long jump with a leap of 43-3, achieved at the NCAA Regionals in 2007. She then earned All-America honors in the triple jump, finishing in eighth place with a leap of 42-9 1/2 at the 2007 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. She later qualified for and competed at the USA Track and Field Championships. An outstanding student, Williams was named to the Academic All-MAC in indoor track & field in 2005 and 2006.