CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – The 35th UNI Athletics Hall of Fame class was announced today by Director of Athletics David Harris.
The group includes the 2009-10 men’s basketball Sweet-16 team, former women’s basketball coach Tony DiCecco, football great Eddie Berlin, women’s basketball player and national championship coach Kris Huffman, wrestling national champion Don Parker and outstanding track athlete Diana Leftridge.
Three-time wrestling All-American Dr. Justin Greenlee is the 2019 recipient of the Merlin Taylor Academic Hall of Fame Award and longtime Panther supporter and Panther Scholarship Club Executive Committee Member Stan Lorenz will be honored with the Dr. Jitu Kothari Meritorious Service Award.
“This year’s UNI Hall of Fame class earned national championships and All-American honors. Their names appear throughout our record books and the men’s basketball win over Kansas in the NCAA tournament brought UNI to a new level of national recognition,” Harris said. “But more than their impact to Panther Athletics, they’ve continued to impact their respective communities into their careers. We are proud to have these outstanding people as alumni of the University of Northern Iowa and more proud to call them Panthers.”
The 2018 Hall of Fame ceremony will take place Sat., Sept. 21, at 10 a.m. in the McLeod Center. The UNI football team hosts Idaho State later that day at 4 p.m. in the UNI-Dome. The Hall of Fame class will also be presented at halftime of the football game.
Tony DiCecco – Women’s Basketball
In his 11 seasons at the helm of the UNI women’s basketball program, Tony DiCecco established a tradition of postseason basketball. He helped the Panthers advance to the WNIT three times. He ended his career with 183 victories, the most in school history at the time. He was named the Missouri Valley Coach of the Year in 2005. He ranks sixth all-time in MVC league wins at 117 and eighth in the MVC in all-time wins at 183. He is also the seventh-longest tenured coach in Missouri Valley Conference history. He had five seasons with 18 or more wins. Six Panthers earned MVC All-Tournament team honors under his tenure and 19 players earned All-Conference recognition. Along with his leadership on the court, he was also a powerful influence on the entire athletic department. He was a key driver in the first Rally in the Valley which has grown into the single-biggest annual fundraising event for the Panther Scholarship Club.
Eddie Berlin – Football
Eddie Berlin was a four-year all-conference honoree and a first-team All-American in 2000. His consistency and durability were matched only by his skill. He owns the school record for consecutive games with a catch at 44, the mark stands third in the MVC/Gateway record book. He is second in the UNI record book for receptions in a game at 14 and tops the career reception mark at 249. He closed his career with 3,735 receiving yards, second only to Dedric Ward on the career-record mark. He holds the UNI record for single-season touchdowns at 16 and he is second all-time for his career touchdowns with 34. He led the league in receiving yards in the 1998 and 2000 seasons. He was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in the fifth round of the 2001 NFL draft and played five seasons in Tennessee. He was a mainstay on special teams where he was named the Titans Special Teams Player of the Game on three different occasions and game captain twice. He closed his NFL career in Chicago after the 2005 season. He played in 62 games and closed NFL career with 26 receptions for 379 yards and two touchdowns, including one on a fake punt. He is now a business consultant in the Chicago area.
Don Parker – Wrestling
Don Parker was the 1966 and 1967 NCAA DII National champion and a three-time NCAA All-American at UNI. He won a pair of NCC Championships and was named the NCC Outstanding Wrestler for the 1966 season. He posted a career record of 65-16-3 and a 57-8-2 mark in his final two seasons. He earned an NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship before beginning his coaching career. He was the head coach at Upper Iowa from 1973-1977 before moving on to Wisconsin-Eau Claire where he coached for 32 seasons. He coached 12 All-Americans and 18 conference champions during his time there and retired in 2007. He was paralyzed in a hunting accident in 1998 and continued to coach for another 10 seasons. He has been inducted into the D2 Wrestling Hall of Fame and the Glen Brand Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Kris Huffman – Women’s basketball
Kris Huffman hung up her basketball shoes at UNI nearly three decades ago, but her legacy remains. She still holds the career mark for the best three-point percentage (.483) in UNI history and ranks in the career top-10 in points, scoring average, field goals made, free throw percentage, assists and steals. She also recorded the only triple-double in program history with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists against Eastern Illinois in the 1985-86 season. Her accomplishments as a player at UNI pale in comparison to her record as a coach. She was an assistant at Wartburg before becoming the head coach at Depauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, in 1993. She went 22-26 during her first two seasons, but since that time, she has not had double-digit losses in a single season. She led the Tigers to DIII National Championships in 2007 and 2013 and 20 NCAA DIII Championship appearances, including 16 consecutive trips to the tournament. Huffman has seven National Coach of the Year honors and has been named the Conference Coach of the Year 12 times. She served as the court coach for the 2008 USA Basketball Women’s U18 National Team Trials. She is also the Assistant Athletics Director at Depauw and currently serves on the NCAA DIII Women’s Basketball Committee.
Dianna Leftridge earned NCAA All-American honors after finishing seventh in the long jump at the 1995 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championship. She was the 1995 Indoor Conference Athlete of the Year and has five conference titles to her name: The 1994 and 1995 indoor long jump, 1995 pentathlon, 1994 outdoor long jump and as a member of the 4×400-meter relay in 1994. She qualified for the 1994 NCAA Championship in the long jump and triple jump. She was named to the conference All-Centennial team to close out her career honors and was named to the UNI Women’s Athletics 50th Anniversary Team. She earned her BA from UNI in 1996 and her MBA from Upper Iowa University in 1998. She now resides in Georgia where she is the Branch Manager of Interstate Home Loan Center, Inc.
2009-10 Men’s Basketball
The 2009-10 UNI Men’s Basketball team is the most successful team in program history with the deepest run into the NCAA Tournament, but most Panther fans define that team by the upset over Overall No. 1 seed Kansas in the second round of March Madness. The Panthers went 30-5 overall in the season, including a 15-game win streak, and a 15-3 record in Missouri Valley Conference play to run away with the regular-season title. UNI captured wins over Old Dominion, Boston College, Iowa State and Iowa in the regular season and rolled through the MVC tournament, winning by at least 15 points in each game. The Panthers earned the No. 9 seed in the Midwest Region of the NCAA tournament and opened with a 69-66 win over UNLV in the Ford Center in Oklahoma City. The Panthers faced the heavily favored Jayhawks in the second round but didn’t back down. UNI controlled the game from the opening tip, building an early 10-2 lead. KU couldn’t muster a response until the final minutes. When they did climb back into the game, their hopes were dashed by Ali Farokhmanesh and one of the gutsiest shots in NCAA tournament history, a dagger three-pointer with 30 seconds left on the shot clock and just 37 seconds to play. The win propelled UNI to the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history where they fell to Michigan State in a hard-fought battle. Adam Koch was named the Missouri Valley Larry Bird Trophy (MVP) winner and the Eagle Bank & Trust Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Lucas O’Rear earned the Sixth-Man Award and coach Ben Jacobson was named the MVC Coach of the Year. Koch was named to the MVC First Team and Jordan Eglseder was named to the Second Team. Kwadzo Ahelegbe was named to the All-Defensive Team.
Stan Lorenz – Dr. Jitu Kothari Meritorious Service Award
Stan and Rose Lorenz showcase purple and gold—both literally and figuratively. At their home in Cedar Falls just a few blocks from the University of Northern Iowa, a life-sized, carved Panther inhabits their front lawn and watches over the neighborhood. Their philanthropic personalities radiate support that extends across the UNI campus making an impact on academics, the arts, capital building projects and Panther athletics. To perpetuate their interest in helping students at UNI, Stan and Rose made provisions in their estate plan for a scholarship fund. Because they have arranged a bequest provision for the university, they are recognized as members of the UNI Legacy Society. Stan is a Panther Scholarship Club fund drive volunteer and has served for many years on the Panther Scholarship Club executive committee and past board president. He also acts as a member of the UNI Athletics Hall of Fame Committee.
Dr. Justin Greenlee – Merlin Taylor Academic Hall of Fame Award
Justin Greenlee was a three-time Division I All-American and a two-time NCAA tournament finalist at the University of Northern Iowa, and a Pan American Games champion in 1993. He reached the NCAA tournament finals at heavyweight as a junior in 1994 and again as a senior in 1995 after finishing eighth as a sophomore in 1993. He ranks third in school history in victories, just ahead of his brother Joel. He earned a gold medal at the 1993 Pan America Games. He is a member of the Glen Brand Hall of Fame, the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame, and the UNI Athletics Hall of Fame.
Justin graduated Cum Laude from UNI with a B.S. in biology and a minor in chemistry. He earned a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 1999 from Iowa State and a Ph.D. in veterinary pathology. Greenlee is a research veterinary pathologist for the US Department of Agriculture in the Virus and Prion Research Unit at the National Animal Disease Center in Ames. His work focuses on prion diseases, including chronic wasting disease. He has published dozens of papers in the field.