Five Hilltopper Greats To Be Inducted Into WKU Athletic Hall Of Fame

Bowling Green, Ky. — Five former Western Kentucky University athletes will be inducted as the 15th class into the WKU Athletic Hall of Fame in ceremonies set for Homecoming Weekend this fall.

The 2005 class includes Jeff Cesarone (football), Wayne Chapman (basketball), Charlie Osborne (basketball), Jim Richards (basketball, baseball, golf) and Porter Williams (football).

The induction of the 2005 class brings to 101 the number of former Western Kentucky athletes and coaches who have earned berths in the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame since its founding in 1991.

The 2005 class will be inducted in ceremonies during the annual W-Club Homecoming Brunch, set for 11 a.m. (CDT), Saturday, Oct. 15, at the Hall of Champions in E.A. Diddle Arena on the WKU campus in Bowling Green. The event is free to W-Club members and their guests. However, reservations are a must and need to made with W-Club treasurer Bill Edwards (270-745-6026; bill.edwards@wku.edu).

The inductees will also be honored in ceremonies during the annual Homecoming football game, set to kickoff at 4 p.m., later that day. Head coach David Elson will pit his Hilltoppers against Gateway Football Conference rival Missouri State (formerly Southwest Missouri) in that contest at L.T. Smith Stadium/Jimmy Feix Field.

Now, more about the members of the 2005 WKU Athletic Hall of Fame class.

• Jeff Cesarone (Football ’84-87) came to Western in 1984 from Geneva (Ill.) Community High School and wasted little time making an immediate impact on Hilltopper football. He took over as the starter at quarterback in the fourth game of his freshman season and proceeded to rewrite the Western record books on his way to earning All-America recognition as a senior. He still — 18 years after completing his career — holds or shares 16 Western school records in passing (12) and total offense (4). As a sophomore, he set an NCAA Division I-AA record for the lowest percentage of passes intercepted — 1.57% (only seven miscues in 447 attempts) — a figure that was also better than the Division I-A standard at the time. His career pass completions (735) and passing yards (8,566) are more than twice the next highest figures in the Topper record books. He helped turn around Western’s football fortunes in the mid-1980s and led his senior-year club (1987) to a 7-4 mark and the school’s first appearance in the I-AA national championship playoffs. Cesarone resides in St. Charles, Ill.

• Wayne Chapman (Basketball ’66-68), a product of Daviess County High School in Owensboro, capped off his stellar career on the Hill earning Ohio Valley Conference Player-of-the-Year honors as a senior in 1968. A two-time all-OVC selection, he helped lead coach John Oldham’s Hilltoppers to back-to-back NCAA appearances (’66 and ’67). He completed his career at Western ranked eighth on the school’s all-time career scoring leaders list with 1,292 points (he is still 19th on that list). His career scoring average (16.3 ppg) is 10th among all Hilltoppers and his 20.8 scoring average as a senior ranks 14th in school history. The three teams he lettered on won 66 of 79 games (83.5%), two OVC championships and two OVC tourney titles. Following his career on the Hill, Chapman played four seasons of professional basketball with the Kentucky Colonels (’68-70), Denver Rockers (’70-71) and Indiana Pacers (’71-72) before embarking on a successful coaching career at Kentucky Wesleyan. Still active on the basketball scene as a professional scout, he resides in Lexington with his wife Laura (Little), a former Hilltopper cheerleader.

• Charlie Osborne (Basketball ’59-61), came to Western in 1958 from Flat Gap, Ky., and developed into a two-time all-OVC athlete for coach E.A. Diddle’s Hilltoppers. Now, 44 years after he left the Hill, Osborne still holds school records for free throws made (511), free throws attempted (638) and free throw percentage (80.1%) in a three-year career. He completed his career with 1,359 points, the fourth highest total ever for a Topper at the time and still good enough to rank him 11th on the school’s all-time leaders list. He also remains among Western’s all-time leaders in career scoring average (eighth at 17.0) and career rebounding (11th with 806). As a junior, he helped lead the Toppers to an NCAA Tournament berth, pacing the club in scoring (17.8 ppg), field goal percentage (51.2%) and free throw percentage (80.1%). He also led Western at the stripe both his sophomore (76.4%) and senior (83.4%) years. Following his career at WKU, Osborne was drafted by the Syracuse Nationals of the NBA and played one season of pro ball. He was killed in an automobile accident in 1979 at the age of 40. His widow, Norma and three children (son Gavin and daughters Carter and Mitchell) reside in the Louisville area.

• Jim Richards (Baseball ’55-58; Assistant Basketball Coach ’68-71; Head Basketball Coach ’71-78; Men's Golf Coach ’78-86) has been a regular on the campus scene for most of the past five decades as an athlete, basketball coach, golf coach, athletics administrator and alumni relations staff member. He came to the Hill from his native Adair County as a freshman in 1954 and lettered four years in baseball, leading all four Topper diamond clubs in batting and serving as team captain his last three seasons. After a successful prep coaching career at Auburn and Glasgow High Schools (his ’68 Scottie basketball team won the state championship), he returned to Western as an assistant basketball coach 1968. Richards was promoted to head coach in 1971 following Western’s run to the NCAA Final Four and Oldham’s retirement from coaching. His seven WKU teams went 102-78 (54.8%), winning two OVC championships (’72, ’76) and a pair of league tourney titles (’76 and ’78, earning berths in the NCAA Tournament both years). He was named the OVC Coach of the Year in both ’74 and ’76. Richards’ eight Topper golf teams each posted winning seasons and produced a school record 717 victories, going a collective 717-454-6 (61.2%). He also served as coordinator of men’s athletics (an assistant to the AD) from ’78-86 and then, after a stint working in Alumni Affairs, returned to the athletic department as Athletics Director (’93-95). He resides in Bowling Green.

• Porter Williams (Football 1970-73), a product of Pearl High School in Nashville, came to Western in 1970 and enjoyed an outstanding career as a wide receiver on some of Western’s best teams. As a senior in 1973, he earned All-America and all-OVC honors after coming up with 66 catches for 1,107 yards and 11 touchdowns as the Hilltoppers rolled to a 12-1 mark, an undefeated league title and runner-up honors in the inaugural NCAA National Championship playoffs. Only three times in school history has a receiver come up with three or more TD catches in a single game, with Williams responsible for two of those (a school record four scores receiving versus Murray State in ’73 and three against East Tennessee in ’71). He remains the only Topper ever to account for more than 1,000 receving yards in a season. His school standards for season catches, yards and TDs (along with TDs in a game) stil stand 32 years after he completed his outstanding career on the Hill. The four WKU teams he lettered on went a collective 35-7-1 (82.6%) and won OVC championships in ’70, ’71 and ’73. The ’73 club ranked fifth in the nation in pass offense as well. Williams played three years of professional football with the Portland Storm (WFL ’74), Birmingham Vulcans (WFL ’75) and Hamilton Tiger-Cats (CFL ’76). He now resides in Franklin, Tenn.

— WKU —