Pittsburgh - The Northeast Conference announced Thursday its 2013-14 Hall of Fame Class, and included among the inductees are a former Robert Morris University men's basketball standout and the first head coach in the history of the RMU football program.
Earning spots in the NEC Hall of Fame are Myron Walker, a member of the men's basketball team from 1990 to 1994, and Joe Walton, the former football coach who started the program from scratch and spent 20 years on the sidelines from 1994 to 2013. Walker and Walton are two of three inductees in 2013-14, as also named as part of the class was former Sacred Heart women's basketball standout Amanda Pape (2003-07).
"We couldn't be any prouder of this year's Hall of Fame induction class, and now we have the chance to celebrate the tremendous contributions Myron, Amanda and Joe have made to their institutions and the Northeast Conference," said Noreen Morris, NEC Commissioner. "All three of this year's inductees not only amassed incredible individual accolades during their esteemed careers, but also led their teams to NEC championships. On behalf of the conference, I congratulate the honorees on this wonderful achievement."
Robert Morris has established a rich tradition in NEC men's basketball, having won a league-best seven conference championships. Of all the great players who have passed through Moon Township, Pa., Myron Walker can certainly stake a claim as being the best to don a Robert Morris uniform.
Walker, a native of Aliquippa, Pa., has held the RMU career scoring record for 20 years, and his 1,965 points ranks seventh on the NEC all-time list. The 6'4" guard also pulled down 603 rebounds, seventh in school annals. He paced the Colonials in scoring in each of his four years, and his 19.8 points per game average in 1991-92 was best in the NEC. His 614 points as a sophomore remains the RMU single-season record. Walker averaged 18.7 ppg over his career and shot just under 50 percent from the field.
Named to the NEC All-Rookie Team as a freshman in 1991, Walker became the first sophomore recognized as NEC Player of the Year during the 1991-92 season. He capped off the 1992 season with NEC Tournament MVP honors after leading the Colonials to their fifth NEC crown. Walker was tabbed to the All-NEC first Team in his sophomore, junior and senior seasons.
Walker was inducted into the Robert Morris Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Beaver County Sports Hall of Fame in 2010. He went on to play professionally in Europe and currently works as an engineer for Norfolk Southern Railroad and remains based in the Pittsburgh area.
"Myron Walker was easily the best all-around player that I ever coached at RMU, but what stands out the most is that he was at his best in the biggest of moments," said Jarrett Durham, who led the Colonials to the NEC title in 1992. "Myron Walker is well deserving of this honor."
"Myron Walker is maybe the most complete player ever in the NEC," said former Wagner head coach Tim Capstraw, who coached against Robert Morris during Walker's time as a Colonial. "His uncanny knack for scoring everywhere, combined with his ability to play lockdown defense, helped make Robert Morris an outstanding team."
"Myron Walker still causes me nightmares," said former Monmouth standout Dave Calloway, who competed against Walker and also coached against him in the early 1990s. "Whether it was that shot he hit against us in my senior year or the game he lit us up in his senior year, it always seemed whenever Robert Morris needed a basket, Myron was the one who was taking the shot. Those great Jarrett Durham teams at Robert Morris always had a toughness factor that seemed to be the edge that always had them on the winning side. But in the end, you still have to score more points than the other guy and Myron was the player who scored those points. He was as good a scorer as anyone who has played in the NEC."
Head Football Coach
An institution at Robert Morris and a legend in the Northeast Conference, Walton recently retired following a 47-year football coaching career in the college and professional ranks.
The only head coach in Robert Morris history, Walton was hired in 1993 to build the program from scratch. After posting 13 wins as an independent his first two years at the helm, Walton led the Colonials into NEC football in 1996 by winning the first of five consecutive conference championships. During the five-year run, Robert Morris posted a 39-13 (.750) overall record and 26-2 (.929) mark in league play, and recorded the only undefeated season in school history with a 10-0 mark in the 2000 campaign. The Colonials won back-to-back ECAC Bowls in 1996 and 1997 and were crowned NCAA I-AA non-scholarship national champions in both 1999 and 2000 by Don Hansen's National Weekly Football Gazette.
Under Walton, the Colonials would go on to win a sixth NEC title in 2010 and earn the first-ever NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoff bid for the conference.
The winningest coach in NEC history, Walton retired with 114 career victories and a 74-47 (.612) record against conference opponents during his 20-year run. He was recognized four times as NEC Coach of the Year (1996, 1997, 1999 and 2010), and was an Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year candidate in 2010.
Three of his players at Robert Morris reached the NFL. Running back Tim Hall (1994-95) played two years for the Oakland Raiders in 1996-97 and defensive back Robb Butler (2002-03) played with the San Diego Chargers in 2004. Offensive lineman Hank Fraley (1996-99), a member of the NEC's first Hall of Fame induction class in 2010, spent 10 years in the NFL from 2000-10 with the Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns and St. Louis Rams.
In 2005, Robert Morris named its new football stadium in his honor, and he was inducted into the RMU Athletic Hall of Fame in November of 2013.
Prior to his arrival at Robert Morris, Walton served as head coach of the New York Jets from 1983-89 and was the offensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins (1978-80), Jets (1981-82) and Pittsburgh Steelers (1990-91). He began his NFL coaching career as a scout for the New York Giants (1967-68), then transitioned to wide receivers coach (1969-73) before moving on to the Redskins as running backs coach (1974-77).
Walton is one of a select few coaches to win 50 games as both an NFL and collegiate head coach.
The Beaver Falls, Pa., native enjoyed a seven-year NFL career with the Redskins and Giants and was a two-time All-American at Pittsburgh.
"Coach Walton has meant a great deal to Robert Morris University, both to the athletic program and the University as a whole," said Craig Coleman, Robert Morris Director of Athletics. "As the only head coach in our 20-year football history, he has overseen the development of our program from its inception to the current day. With a number of NEC Championships, numerous athletes with individual awards for both athletics and academics, and several players making it to the NFL, Coach Walton will leave behind a legacy that is hard to match. Most importantly, he has been a great leader, mentor, and terrific role model for hundreds of young men who have come through our program. This honor is certainly well-deserved."
"It is certainly a well-deserved honor for him," said Jon Banaszak, a former assistant under Walton and now the head coach at RMU. "He's a coach who won six Northeast Conference football championships, more than any other coach. For me to be the second head football coach at Robert Morris University and to follow in the big shoes that Coach Walton left behind is very important to me."
"I congratulate Joe on this well-deserved honor and salute him for the enormous impact that he had on Northeast Conference football," said Wagner head coach Walt Hameline, who competed against Walton during his entire run at RMU. "Wagner and Robert Morris had many great battles through the years. Facing a Joe Walton-coached team always meant you had to be on top of your game and I will miss competing against his teams."
The NEC Hall of Fame was established as a means to recognize, honor and perpetuate the memory of those individuals who have made outstanding contributions to NEC athletics and have helped to bring recognition, honor, distinction and excellence to both the Conference and its Division I athletic programs. The 2010 inaugural class was headlined by the NEC's first Commissioner, Chris Monasch, and legendary Mount St. Mary's basketball head coach Jim Phelan. Student-athletes honored included Wagner basketball player Terrance Bailey, Robert Morris football lineman Hank Fraley, Mount St. Mary's distance runner Peter Rono, Fairleigh Dickinson sprinter/hurdler Sharlene Milwood-Lee, Monmouth soccer standout Christie Pearce-Rampone and Saint Francis U women's basketball player Jess Zinobile. The 2011 class included Marist men's basketball player Rik Smits, Saint Francis U women's basketball player Beth Swink and former Fairleigh Dickinson men's basketball coach Tom Green. The 2012 class featured Fairleigh Dickinson men's basketball player Desi Wilson, Mount St. Mary's women's basketball player Vanessa Blair and former Sacred Heart Director of Athletics Don Cook.
Nominations for the Hall of Fame are made by current and former member institutions, along with the Conference office. Enshrinees are then selected in a vote by administrators from each member institution and the Conference.
Student-athletes who have competed in an NEC-sponsored sport for at least two full seasons and completed their playing career at a member institution become eligible for induction beginning five years after exhausting their collegiate eligibility. Coaches, administrators and any other persons who have made outstanding contributions or offered extraordinary service to NEC athletics are eligible after three full years of service.
A maximum of five inductees may be selected annually, including at least one male student-athlete, one female student-athlete, and one coach or administrator.
ABOUT ROBERT MORRIS UNIVERSITY
Robert Morris University, founded in 1921, is a private, four-year institution with an enrollment of approximately 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The university offers 60 undergraduate and 20 graduate programs. An estimated 22,000 alumni live and work in western Pennsylvania.