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Former Baseball: Why is Guidry the only 2015 UL Hall inductee?

Kevin Foote, The Advertiser, Oct. 29, 2015

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Ron Guidry, shown here being honored during a ceremony at Tigue Moore Field retiring his No. 3 Ragin’ Cajun jersey, will be officially inducted into the UL Hall of Fame during homecoming ceremonies Saturday at Cajun Field.(Photo: Advertiser file photo)

Many “old timers” yearn for the good old days when lofty standards were expected and work ethics were even higher.

There are a few unique situations, though, where adhering to the old, strict guidelines simply inhibit progress without actually perpetuating the higher values.

The UL athletic community stumbled across one of those examples when it came to the qualifications for the UL Athletics Hall of Fame.

Until this past summer, the criteria for being eligible for consideration was an undergraduate degree, before the athletic credentials were even considered.

It’s pretty easy to see why that was a rule from the beginning. After all, this is a university, not a professional sports franchise.

Over the years, however, it became apparent to many that it was time. It was time to move forward. It was time to stop ignoring and alienating some of the best athletes the university had ever produced.

The current members of the Ragin’ Cajun Letterman’s Club decided this summer that the time had arrived. The committee approached UL President Joseph Savoie and Athletic Director Scott Farmer for approval and received it.

As soon as that obstacle was removed, Club president Ken Meyers said the group collectively had one guy in mind.

Ron Guidry.

With a degree no longer an absolute requirement, the barriers were gone not only for Guidry, but also for other athletes who achieved national or international recognition for their athletic achievements. Because of the old rule, however, those athletes couldn’t be recognized back home in Lafayette where their great careers began.

Just picture the scene.

The YES Network comes down to Cajun Country from New York to do a feature on Yankees pitching great ‘Louisiana Lightning’ Ron Guidry. The producer asks to get some footage of Guidry’s UL Hall of Fame exhibit.

“We can’t do that,” said a UL official.

“Why not?” asks the puzzled producer.

“Because Guidry isn’t in our Hall of Fame,” offers the UL official.

“What?” responds the producer. “He’s in the New York Yankees Ring of Honor, and that’s not good enough for your Hall of Fame?”

Come Saturday at Cajun Field, that conversation will no longer be possible. At long last, Guidry will officially be inducted into the UL Athletics Hall of Fame.

“It was just an old rule that was outdated and needed to be changed,” Meyers said. “It was a totally unanimous decision by the board and by the school’s administration.”

And so far, Meyers said the board hasn’t received any backlash.

Once it was approved, the first step was to contact Guidry of the exciting news. The next decision was to make this year’s induction class a one-man show.

“We all agreed on that as well,” Meyers said. “Just think about it. Who would want to be standing there next to Ron Guidry after they read off his list of accomplishments?

“We also wanted this to be his stage. He deserved that. We wanted that for Ron.”

In part, that’ll make up some for the years of being excluded, but more importantly, it’ll also be a new beginning for hopefully many more.

Consider just a few of the possibilities. If elite athletes such as Elfrid Payton or Jonathon Lucroy elect not to return to get a degree because they were able to make a great living off the skills they began sharpening on Reinhardt Boulevard, no longer will they have to feel shunned, instead of embraced, by the university they represented so well around the globe.

With that said, don’t feel like the standards have been lowered. Before even going to Savoie and Farmer for approval, the board studied Hall of Fame policies from schools in other mid-major conferences.

Meyers said most of them had criteria similar to “preferred but not mandated” that a degree be a Hall of Fame requirement.

In other words, not every very good athlete who fails to graduate will suddenly be eligible. For instance, Meyers himself was an All-Conference caliber catcher for the Ragin’ Cajuns but never enjoyed a successful Major League career. He wouldn’t qualify without a degree.

So in effect, the standards aren’t really any lower for about 98 percent of the applicants. The truly elite athletes just aren’t excluded any more.

A guy like Andrew Toney came to Lafayette with the No. 1 priority of getting a degree to please his mother, long before he ever shined as one of the league’s best shooting guards on a world championship NBA team.

In fact, Toney even missed a Cajun basketball game on a West Coast trip to attend his December graduation, much to the chagrin of many die-hard fans like myself, who missed his college graduation to cover a Saints-Steelers game.

But if Toney hadn’t graduated, he too would now be eligible. It’s a win-win for all.

Even better, another one of the archaic rules that has been changed is that coaches and administrators are now eligible for the UL Hall. One day, the likes of Tony Robichaux or Mark Hudspeth will get their chance to rub shoulders in the university’s Hall along side such greats as Bo Lamar and Brian Mitchell.

And it gets even better.

Currently there’s no real UL Hall of Fame. In other words, there’s no building or room to visit to see who the UL Hall of Famers are, and relive their memorable achievements.

Meyers confirmed that’s now part of the masterplan.

So one day, hopefully fairly soon, that YES Network producer will be able to take all the footage he wants.

Athletic Network Footnote by Ed Dugas:
Please click here for the Spotlight Feature done on Ron Guidry in March, 2008.
Click here for Ron’s Athletic Network profile.
Click here for the 2015 HOF Announcement with information on the awards reception today, Oct. 29/