College Sports

NC Sports Hall of Fame adds former N&O sports columnist Caulton Tudor

Former N&O sports columnist Caulton Tudor
Former N&O sports columnist Caulton Tudor

The N.C. Sports Hall of Fame added eight new members Thursday, including former News & Observer sports columnist Caulton Tudor.

The list includes: Glenn Bass, Dwight Durante, Mike Fox, Chasity Melvin, Ben Sutton, Tudor, Steve Vacendak and Stephanie Wheeler.

Tudor, 69, was a News & Observer sports columnist for more than 40 years. He currently writes for WRAL.

Tudor said he was flattered and surprised to learn two weeks ago that he would be inducted.

“I honestly thought they were trying to find Tom Suiter because our names rhyme,” Tudor said, “There are lots more people more qualified and more deserving than I am in the media and just athletics in general. I guess longevity plays a role.”

The Angier native and East Carolina graduate covered 35 ACC tournaments, 24 Final Fours, 22 college football bowl games, six years of NFL playoffs, four years of NHL playoffs, the 1996 Olympics and one College World Series. He was inducted into the U.S. Basketball Writers Association Hall of Fame in 1999 and was selected as the North Carolina sportswriter of the year three times.

Tudor joins former N&O sports writer A.J. Carr, who was inducted in 2014; and former sports editor Dick Herbert, who was inducted in 1977.

The other new members:

Bass, 77, won all-star football and baseball honors at East Carolina. He signed with the San Diego Chargers after leaving Greenville and was traded to Buffalo, where he played five years. As a rookie he caught 50 passes and was named the team’s MVP. He was a member of Buffalo’s AFL championship teams in 1964 and 1965.

Durante, 69, standing at 5 feet 8, played college basketball at Catawba College, where he averaged 29.4 points per game. Durante holds Catawba records for most career points as well as for most points in a game (58), and highest single-season scoring average (32.1). He toured for a time with the Harlem Globetrotters, then became a teacher in Fayetteville.

Fox, 60, led UNC to six College World Series and twice finished as the runner-up. In his 18 years at UNC, his teams have advanced to the NCAA tournament 15 times. He was Baseball America’s Coach of the Year in 2008, and he was Atlantic Region Coach of the Year for three straight seasons. He has 1,338 wins in his career as a head coach, including wins at N.C. Wesleyan College.

“I never even dreamed this would be something that could happen to me,” Fox told ABC11. “I’ve not been much on coaching honors or awards, but I have to admit this one is pretty cool just because the history of the sports hall of fame.”

Melvin, 40, was the ACC Rookie of the Year while at N.C. State in 1995, a two-time All-ACC selection and a Kodak All-American. She was also the MVP of the NCAA Eastern Regional in 1998 and a member of the All-NCAA Final Four team the same year. Melvin played in the WNBA for 12 years. She was inducted into the N.C. State Athletic Hall of Fame in 2014 and has her jersey retired.

Sutton, 58, founded ISP Sports in Winston-Salem. He grew it into the pre-eminent college media and sports marketing company in America. When IMG acquired ISP in 2010, Sutton became chairman and president of IMG College, leading its growth into a nearly billion-dollar enterprise and employing over 1,000 people in four national market leading businesses, with more than 200 university partners nationwide.

Vacendak, 72, played a key role in Duke’s two Final Four teams of the 1960s. He averaged 13.3 points a game during the 1965-66 season, on a Blue Devils team that included Bob Verga, Jack Marin and Mike Lewis. He was also voted ACC player of the year. Vacendak played three years in the American Basketball Association. He has served as the athletic director at Duke.

Wheeler, 36, a native of Norlina, won a gold medal at the Paralympic Games in Beijing, China, for the U.S. Women’s Wheelchair Basketball team. She was a gold medalist at the 2003 Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece, and the Woman’s National Championship Tournament MVP in 2003. She also won a national championship at Illinois in 2009 and was the tournament MVP.

The newest members will be enshrined during the 54th annual induction banquet on May 5 at the Raleigh Convention Center.

“The achievements of this year’s class of inductees enrich North Carolina’s remarkable sports heritage, and the individuals have certainly earned the honor of joining the 328 men and women who have been previously enshrined,” Fredrick Reese, president of the Hall, said in a news release. “This is our 54th class, and we look forward to celebrating this special time in our state’s sports history.”

The N.C. Sports Hall of Fame was established in 1963. The North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame exhibit is on the third floor of the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh and features objects and memorabilia donated by inductees.

The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is free.

Jonathan M. Alexander: 919-829-4822, @jonmalexander