Nadia Comaneci’s perfection at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal will forever be one of sport’s greatest memories. The Romanian gymnast, just 14-years-old, recorded the first “10” in modern Olympic history for her uneven bars routine. She would go on to win gold medals on the uneven bars, balance beam, and all-around, along with a bronze medal on the floor. Two years later at the 1978 World Championships, Comaneci won gold on the balance beam. At the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, Comaneci won gold medals on balance beam and floor, while claiming silver in all-around. Comaneci defected from Romania in 1989. She married former American gymnast Bart Conner in 1996, and the couple live in Norman, Oklahoma where they are business partners with their manager, Paul Ziert, in the Bart Conner Gymnastics Academy, International Gymnast magazine, Perfect 10 Productions, Inc. and Grips, Etc. She was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1993.
Class of 2013 Inductees
John Henry Ward
Induction Sponsored by Steve Owens
OKLAHOMA SPORTS HALL OF FAME
Induction Sponsored by Lou Kerr and The Kerr Foundation, Inc.
A graduate of Tulsa Rogers High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, John Henry Ward was an All-State football player and undefeated heavyweight state champion. He also played basketball and baseball in high school. Ward was a two-sport star at Oklahoma State University, (OSU). He was a two-time Big Eight Conference champion wrestler, and finished third at heavyweight at the 1969 NCAA Championships. In two seasons, Ward won 35 of his 40 bouts. A 6-foot-4, 260-pound offensive tackle for the Cowboys, Ward was named to the Associated Press’ All-America Team in 1969. In 1970, Ward was picked in the first round of the National Football League Draft by the Minnesota Vikings where he remained through the 1975 season. Ward suited up for the Chicago Bears and the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1976. During his six-year, 78-game NFL career, he played tackle, guard defensive tackle, and was part of two Super Bowl teams. Following football, Ward spent much of his adult life dedicated to public service, while continuing his love of the outdoors, especially hunting and fishing. He was inducted into the hall of fame in 2013.
The University of Oklahoma never lost a football game when Jimmy Harris started at quarterback. The Sooners also won national championships in 1955 and 1956 with Harris calling the signals. Harris, a native of Terrell, Texas, was 25-0 as a starter at OU. Harris was drafted in the fifth round of the 1957 National Football League Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. The unbeaten collegiate quarterback was a defensive back as a professional. He played for the Los Angeles Rams (1958) and the Dallas Cowboys (1961) and with the American Football League’s Dallas Texans in 1960. In 35 career NFL contests, he intercepted nine passes. In 1960 with the AFL’s Texans, Harris picked off two passes in 14 games. Harris did not play football in 1959, returning to Norman to finish his degree in geology. While on campus, Harris worked on Bud Wilkinson’s coaching staff. Following his football career Harris entered the oil business, and founded Midroc Operating Company in 1966.
Induction Sponsored by BancFirst
Bill Self, Jr.
Induction Sponsored by the University of Kansas and KU Athletics Dept.
Born in Komolty, Russia, and raised in Kingfisher, Oklahoma, LeRoy “Ace” Gutowsky was an All-American in football for Oklahoma City University, (OCU) in 1930. The running back spent eight years playing professional football with the Portsmouth Spartans, 1932-33, the Detroit Lions, 1934-38, and the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1939. Part of the Lions’ “Infantry Attack” backfield of the 1930s, the 5-foot-11, 205-pounder was also a hard-hitting linebacker and part-time quarterback and defensive back. Gutowsky was second team All-Pro in 1934. In five years with the Lions, he rushed for a franchise record 2,445 yards on 698 carries, a total that remained until the 1960s. Over his eight-year professional career, Gutowsky totaled 3,478 yards with 20 touchdowns. Following football, Gutowsky served in the U.S. Army, joining his father in the oil business after World War II. Gutowsky also served on the OCU football staff as an offensive line coach in 1948. A champion bridge player, he was given the “life master” ranking, the first Oklahoman to achieve the highest ranking in bridge. Gutowsky died in Kingfisher in December of 1976.
Edmond, Oklahoma native Bill Self is one of the nation’s top college basketball coaches. After earning the Oklahoma High School Player of the Year in 1981, Self attended Oklahoma State University, earning four letters, and graduating in 1985. Self’s coaching career began at Kansas, (KU) on Larry Brown’s staff. Self returned to OSU in 1986 as part of Leonard Hamilton’s staff. He remained at OSU on Eddie Sutton’s staff until 1994 when Oral Roberts University hired Self to lead its program. Tulsa University was next on Self’s climb. He guided the Golden Hurricane to the NCAA Tournament twice. The 2000 campaign included an appearance in the Elite Eight. Illinois Fighting Illini hired Self prior to the 2000-01 season, and they advanced to the Elite Eight in Self’s first season. In 2003, Self returned to Kansas as head coach. The program has remained among the best in the country since. KU won a national championship in 2008 and reached the Final Four in 2012; won nine-straight regular season Big 12 Conference titles (2005-2013) and five league tournament trophies. As a Division I basketball coach, Self’s teams have won over 75-percent of their games. In 2009, he was named the Associated Press Coach of the Year, and the Naismith Coach of the Year in 2012.
Induction Sponsored by Orthopedic Solutions
Induction Sponsored by Don and Beverly Clark
A 1959 graduate and two-sport star for John Marshall High School in Oklahoma City, Richard Wayne Baughman was a standout collegiate wrestler for the University of Oklahoma from 1961-63. A two-time Big Eight Conference champion and three-time All-American, he was an NCAA champion in 1962. He won 53 of his 60 collegiate matches while suiting up for the Sooners, and was part of national team champions in 1960 and 1963, captaining the 1963 group. Success for Baughman continued on the international stage. He wrestled at the 1964, 1968, and 1972 Olympic Games. Baughman was also a member of eight World Teams, winning a gold medal at the 1967 Pan American Championships. By the time his competitive career was finished, Baughman won 16 national championships in the various disciplines. A coaching career that spanned three decades began in 1975 at the Air Force Academy. Baughman led the Falcons to 183 dual meet victories. He coached the U.S. freestyle squad to six medals at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal. He was coach of five U.S. squads at World Championship tournaments, three in freestyle and two in Greco-Roman. Baughman was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame as a Distinguished Member. He was inducted in to the hall of fame in 2013.
Oklahoma City native, Clayton Ike Bennett’s entree into the world of sports was his leadership to bring the 1989 U.S. Olympic Festival to central Oklahoma. He played key roles in the development and success of most of Oklahoma City's major sports initiatives. Bennett's role in sports business took him to a leadership position with the San Antonio Spurs, management and ownership of the Oklahoma City 89ers and Redhawks. He guided the effort to lure a National Hockey League franchise to the city, development of the Boathouse District, modernization of equine facilities at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds, the MAPS initiatives, temporary hosting of the NBA's New Orleans Hornets and the 2008 Big League City vote which funded improvements to Chesapeake Energy Arena. In 2006, he and the Professional Basketball Club ownership group purchased the NBA's Seattle Supersonics. Two years later the team relocated to Oklahoma City and the Thunder era began. The Thunder made the NBA Playoffs four of its first five seasons, winning its division three straight years and the Western Conference title in 2012, which brought the NBA Finals to Oklahoma City. Bennett's service also includes membership on the board of the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame and as a member of the University Of Oklahoma Board Of Regents. He was inducted intot the Oklahoma Sports Hall of fame in 2013.
Induction Sponsored by the Oklahoma City Thunder