LEXINGTON, Ky. — Six University of Kentucky greats will be inducted into the UK Athletics Hall of Fame in late September. The 2011 class includes former UK student-athletes Jeff Abbott (baseball), Pam Browning (women’s basketball), Ilkka Jantti (men’s soccer), Cedric Kauffmann(men’s tennis), Bill Ransdell (football) and former administrator Russell Rice.
The class will be formally inducted during Hall of Fame Weekend, Sept. 23-24, in conjunction with the football game against Florida.
Jeff Abbott (1991-94) was a UK baseball All-American and a first-team All-Southeastern Conference selection in 1994 after setting single-season school records for batting average (.445), hits (102), home runs (23), total bases (203) and slugging (.886), all of which still stand today. Abbott also holds the UK single-season on-base percentage mark of .533 set in 1992 and ranks in the top five in eight career offensive categories, including batting average, runs, hits, doubles, home runs, total bases, slugging percentage, walks and on-base percentage. UK won at least 30 games in each of his four years, including a then-school-record 41 wins in 1991. Abbott’s class posted more wins in a four-year span than any other class in school history. He went on to play five seasons in the major leagues with the Chicago White Sox.
Pam Browning (1974-78) is one of only two players in UK women’s basketball history to be named All-America by Street & Smith’s annual publication (1977). She ranks fifth on UK’s career scoring list with 1,598 points and she continues to hold the school record for highest scoring average in a season, averaging 25.5 points in 1976-77. As a member of the first women’s basketball team at UK in the modern era, she led UK to its first two wins over ranked opponents in program history with victories over No. 2 Tennessee Tech and No. 18 Indiana during the 1976-77 campaign. Browning averaged 14.9 points during her four-year career.
Ilkka Jantti (1998-2001) was the first All-American in UK men’s soccer history. The four-time NSCAA All-Region honoree was named the 2001 Mid-American Conference Player of the Year, the 1998 MAC Newcomer of the Year and earned All-MAC honors in all four years at UK. Jantti took Kentucky to three NCAA Tournament appearances and led UK to back-to-back MAC regular-season championships in 2000 and 2001, as well as MAC Tournament titles for three straight years from 1999-2001. In addition to being named to the All-Tournament team twice, Jantti was a first-team NSCAA/adidas Scholar All-American, a Verizon Academic All-American, a winner of a prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship and he was named to the conference academic honor roll three times.
Cedric Kauffmann (1995-98) was the first three-time All-American in singles play in Kentucky men’s tennis history. Kauffmann went 121-61 during his four-year career at UK and finished in the top 10 in the country from 1996-98. He climbed as high as No. 2 in 1997. Kauffmann was a National Clay Court Singles Championship finalist in 1997 and a National Indoor Singles Championships semifinalist in 1996. He played on the ATP Tour after his time at Kentucky and reached as high as the world’s No. 170 ranking. Kauffmann competed in the 2001 French Open and the 2000 United States Open, losing in a fifth-set tiebreaker at the 2001 French Open to tennis legend Pete Sampras. He was hired as the UK men’s tennis assistant coach in 2005 and currently serves as the associate head coach.
Bill Ransdell (1983-86) is one of the top quarterbacks in UK history. He set Wildcat season records for most offensive plays, total offense, pass attempts, pass completions, passing yardage, completion percentage and consecutive passes without an interception. He held single-game UK records for total plays, pass attempts, completions and completion percentage and notched then-school career records for total offense (5,456 yards), total offensive plays (996), pass attempts (816), completions (460), passing yardage (5,564) and completion percentage (.575). Ransdell also helped lead the Wildcats to a 9-3 record and Hall of Fame Bowl victory in 1984 and went on to a two-year career in the NFL. He has been an analyst on UK TV network telecasts and also has served as president of the K-Association lettermen’s group.
Russell Rice (1967-87) is a former UK Athletics administrator who was associated with UK Athletics for more than a half-century. Rice spent 20 years on the UK staff from 1967 to 1987, including 18 as a sports information director. He wrote several books chronicling the history of Wildcat men’s basketball and football programs and served as media coordinator for several NCAA men’s basketball tournaments hosted by UK. Rice was also a president of the SEC Sports Information Directors Association. For more than 20 years since his retirement from UK, Rice has written a weekly column for The Cats’ Pause magazine and has been a historical resource for UK Athletics. A World War II veteran (U.S. Marines) and a UK graduate, Rice spent 16 years in the media after graduation, including five years as sports editor of the Lexington Leader, before joining the UK staff.
The UK Athletics Hall of Fame was started in 2005 to recognize and honor persons whose participation and contributions enriched and strengthened the university’s athletic program. The charter class included 88 individuals who had previously had their jersey retired by UK.
There is a five-year waiting period – after leaving UK – to be eligible for inclusion into the Hall of Fame and an additional 5-year waiting period to have a jersey retired. An individual must be a member of the Hall of Fame to be eligible for jersey retirement.
A committee consisting of Hall of Famers, media members, campus representatives, and current coaches and administrators elects new inductees each year.