Dec. 1, 2009
By Tom Weber
CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Southern Illinois University Department of Athletics announced on Tuesday its 2010 Hall of Fame Class. The esteemed, six-person class, which will be inducted in a ceremony on Friday, January 8, 2010, features men's basketball players Kent Williams and Jerry Jones, plus inductees Tom Koutsos (football), Al Levine (baseball), Dana Olden (volleyball) and Cheryl Venorsky (softball).
Kent Williams (1999-2003) helped rejuvenate the men's basketball program a decade ago. As a four-year starter, his teams were 88-42 during his career and advanced to two NCAA Tournaments (2002, 2003), including a Sweet 16 appearance, and one NIT bid (2000). Williams became just the second player in school history to surpass 2,000 career points. He was a two-time First-Team All-MVC selection (2002, 2003) and runner-up to Kyle Korver for MVC Player of the Year in 2003. He ranks among the school leaders in numerous career categories, including 3-pointers (2nd), free throws (2nd) assists (8th) and games started (1st). Williams is currently an assistant men's basketball coach at Missouri State.
Jerry Jones (1988-90) was one of the MVC's most dominant big men during his two-year career at SIU. A First-Team All-MVC pick in 1990, Jones was the league's rebounding champion that year, averaging 10.3 rebounds per game. In the last 30 years, only Jones and Ashraf Amaya have averaged more than 10 rebounds per game in a season at SIU. Jones earned numerous conference awards, including All-Newcomer team (1989), All-Defense team (1990) and All-Tournament team (1989, 1990). The Salukis advanced to the NIT in both seasons Jones played at Southern. Jones resides in Monee, Ill., and is a sports performance trainer.
Running back Tom Koutsos (1999-2003) broke school and conference records and helped usher in a new era of Saluki football. He recorded three 1,000-yard seasons -- the most by any back in school history -- and finished as SIU's career rushing leader with 4,715 yards. That mark still ranks second all-time in conference history. Koutsos was a First-Team All-MVFC selection in 2000 and 2001 and an honorable mention All-American in 2000. He is Southern's career leader in rushing touchdowns (52), 100-yard rushing games (22) and rushing attempts (988). He piled up more than 5,000 career all-purpose yards. Perhaps his most important contribution came during his senior year, as he helped lead the program to a 10-2 record and its first playoff appearance in 20 years. That started a string of what is now seven-straight playoff berths. Koutsos resides in Oswego, Ill, and is a sports performance coach.
Al Levine (1990-1991) was one of the most successful pitchers in school history and went on to have a lasting professional career that spanned 10 seasons in the major leagues, including stops with Kansas City, Tampa Bay, St. Louis, Chicago White Sox, Texas, Anaheim, Detroit and San Francisco. At SIU, Levine led the MVC in saves with 11 in 1990, and led the league in ERA with a 1.71 mark in 1991. The Salukis' career saves leader with 19, he was named First-Team All-MVC in 1991. Levine was a key member of the 1990 NCAA Tournament team, SIU's last team to make an NCAA Tournament appearance. As a pro, the right-hander pitched in 416 games, primarily as a reliever, and recorded 24 wins and a 3.96 career ERA. Levine retired in 2005 and resides in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Dana Olden (1989-1992) was one of the most prolific middle blockers in school history. In fact, she still ranks in the top 10 in 13 single-season or career categories. A two-time First-Team All-Gateway pick (1991, 1992),she is second in career block assists (333) and second in career kills (1545), attempts (3784) and block solos (154). She also ranks among the single-season leaders in career hitting percentage (8th) and digs (9th). From 1990-92, she led SIU in kills, attempts, block solos and total blocks. Olden also added Second-Team All-Gateway (1990) and Gateway Newcomer-of-the-Year (1989) honors to her trophy case. Olden resides in Westlake, Ohio, and is a marketing director for Time Warner Cable.
Cheryl Venorsky (1989-92) was equally brilliant on the field and in the classroom. The shortstop was a two-time First-Team All-MVC selection (1990, 1991) and a First-Team All-Great Lakes Region pick (1991). An administration of justice major, she maintained a 3.8 cumulative GPA and was a three-time Academic All-American (1990, 1991, 1992). Her crowning achievement was winning the GTE Academic All-American-of-the-Year award in 1991, a year in which she held a perfect 4.0 GPA. Venorsky still ranks among the career leaders at SIU in hits (6th), stolen bases (6th) and runs scored (8th). She led the team in home runs in 1991, a season in which Southern finished 42-7, won the conference with a 14-0 mark and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Venorsky resides in Swansea, Ill., where she works as a police officer.