JONESBORO, AR - Four new members were inducted into the Arkansas State University Athletic Hall of Honor when the ASU Lettermen's Club held its annual banquet Friday night at the Jonesboro Holiday Inn.
Former golf coach and baseball player Neil Abel, former football player Gene Bradley, former golfer David Faught and former track and field athlete Kelly Riley were inducted as the 2009 class.
The banquet began at 6:30 p.m. and former ASU radio play-by-play announcer Keith Merritt served as the master of ceremonies. In addition to the four inductees, ASU-Jonesboro Chancellor Dr. Robert Potts, ASU Director of Athletics Dr. Dean Lee and President of the Lettermen's Club Tommy Reese also addressed the crowd.
A reception honoring the inductees and former head football coach Bennie Ellender was held following the banquet, and the Red Wolves' football season will kick off Saturday evening when ASU hosts the Delta Devils of Mississippi Valley State in a 6:00 p.m. game at ASU Stadium. The inductees will be honored during the game as well.
Abel joined the ASU athletic department in 1979 as ticket and business manager and one year later was named ASU's golf coach - a position he held for 27 seasons until his retirement in 2006. He led the Arkansas State golf team to NCAA regional appearances in 1997, 2000, 2001 and 2002 and helped start the A-State women's golf program, which he coached from 1992-96. Abel also lettered in baseball for Arkansas State in 1957 and 1958. Abel also was a successful high school basketball coach, compiling an impressive 369-121 record while coaching for 17 seasons in Monette, Manila and Childress.
Chosen with the 37th pick by the Buffalo Bills in the 1980 NFL Draft, Bradley threw for 1,091 yards and rushed for 350 during his senior season in 1979. He finished his career at No. 8 on the ASU all-time passing chart with 1,209 yards and his 1,091 yards in 1979 ranked as the sixth-best ever at the time. After spending two years with the Bills, Bradley signed with the New Jersey Generals of the United States Football League, where he joined former ASU fullback Maurice Carthon and former Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker to help the Generals reach the playoffs in 1984.
Faught finished his ASU career with 13 top-5 finishes, earned two Sun Belt Conference titles and captured medalist honors four times after competing for Arkansas State from 1993-97. Faught was named to the Sun Belt Conference all-time team in 2006 and was a competitor at the 2004 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y.
Riley burst on the scene in 1988 and cleared 18 feet, 3 ¼ inches to win the NCAA pole vault championship as a freshman and went on to capture six conference titles as well during his career. Riley won the American South Conference outdoor title from 1998-90, won the ASC indoor championship in 1998 and 1990 and was the Sun Belt Conference indoor champion in 1992. By the time he left ASU, he was a five-time All-American, earning the honor three times in outdoor competition and twice indoors.