George Washington University inducted the Class of 2022 into the GW Sports Hall of Fame Friday night in Betts Theatre, with eight individuals and the 1993 men’s basketball team among those recognized for their contributions to GW athletics.
Fittingly during Black History Month, Black GW Sports pioneers Norman Neverson, B.A. ’67, (football), Garland Pinkston, B.B.A. ’70, (men’s basketball) and Rocky Wright, B.A. ’66, (men’s basketball) were inducted along with Diane Rose Kelly, B.S. ’89, (women’s soccer), Danny Rouhier, B.A. ’03, (baseball), Noelia Gomez, B.S. ’90, M.A. “00, (women’s basketball), Chris Peterson, B.B.A. ’87, (wrestling) and Karen Ercole (administration). In addition, the 1993 men’s basketball Sweet Sixteen team was inducted.
The event was emceed by Athletics Director Tanya Vogel and featured remarks from GW President Mark S. Wrighton. President-elect Ellen Granberg was in attendance.
Addressing the inductees, Wrighton highlighted past accomplishments and future aspirations. “Today and every day,” Wrighton said, “our athletes and alumni continue to forge similarly important paths. I am confident that, as our university embarks on its third century, we will continue to strengthen our athletics program so that it remains worthy of your determination, commitment and respect as you paved the way to our brilliant future.”
The Hall of Fame Class of 2022 included representatives from four different decades and six sports and was selected by a diverse group of 11 former student-athletes, administrators and longtime supporters of the athletics department. With their induction, the GW Sports Hall of Fame grew to 183 members and three historic teams. Founded in 1959, the late Red Auerbach, an NBA hall of famer as coach of the Boston Celtics, was part of the inaugural class.
The Class of 2022 Hall of Fame:
Norman Neverson, Garland Pinkston, Rocky Wright, Men’s Basketball
In 1963, Neverson became GW's first Black student-athlete, awarded a scholarship after he was recruited out of Roosevelt High School in D.C. to play football. A three-sport star in high school, Neverson helped to integrate the Southern Conference after West Virginia first had a student-athlete break the color barrier a year prior. Neverson was a participant in the original March on Washington later that same year.
In the first half century of GW basketball, the program had a glaring absence on its all-time roster. It wasn’t until the trailblazing Wright came to GW in 1963 that the university welcomed its first Black basketball player. Since first-year students were not eligible to play NCAA varsity basketball until 1972, Wright participated on the freshman team but did not ultimately receive a scholarship. Nevertheless, Wright integrated GW basketball and paved the way for Pinkston to become GW’s first Black student-athlete on a basketball scholarship in 1968.
Diane Rose Kelly, Women’s Soccer
Kelly’s name can be found etched in the GW women’s soccer record book as one of the most successful soccer players to wear the Buff and Blue. In her two years at GW, Kelly set the single-season record for goals with 29 in her first season with the team in 1986. Kelly also totaled a team-high 61 points that season, a mark that ranks second in program history. In 1987, Kelly helped GW break into the Northeast Regional rankings for the first time in program history, ranking as high as seventh during the season and ending the year ranked ninth. Kelly also is second in program history with 44 career goals and second with 96 career points.
Danny Rouhier, Baseball
Part of GW Athletics Hall of Fame coach Tom Walter’s first recruiting class at GW, Rouhier put together an impressive four-year run in Buff and Blue, highlighted by being named All Atlantic-10 for a 2000 baseball squad that won 37 games. Rouhier appeared in 203 games during his career, hitting .331 with 167 runs scored, 55 doubles, six triples, 36 homers, 194 RBI and 89 walks. When he left GW, he ranked among the program’s top five in seven different categories, including as the all-time RBI leader. Today, Rouhier still ranks among the program’s top 10 in RBIs (3rd), doubles (3rd), homers (7th) and runs (t-7th) in addition to placing 11th in hits (239), 13th in at-bats (721), 14th in walks and 18th in games played.
Noelia Gomez, Women’s Basketball
GW's all-time leading women’s basketball scorer by career average, Gomez was a decorated scorer and rebounder during her three years in the Buff and Blue. Gomez scored 1,600 points in her career (7th all-time) in just 89 games, setting the pace for the program with a career average of 18 points per game. She also ranks 20th in program with 567 career rebounds. She earned 1996-97 A-10 Rookie of the Year and All-Rookie honors and was Second Team All-Conference and All-Tournament. In 33 games, she scored 576 points, the sixth-most in a single season in program history. Gomez then became a first team All-Conference performer and honorable mention All-American in 1997-98. She was named the A-10 Player of the Year and honorable mention All-American in 1998-99 after averaging 19.6 ppg in 26 games, the fourth-most in a single season in program history. Gomez helped lead GW to win a pair of regular season A-10 Championships in addition to two NCAA tournament appearances, including the 1997 Elite Eight.
Chris Peterson, Wrestling
A GW wrestler from 1983-87, Peterson accumulated a 65-14-2 record, with a tournament record of 40-23, to earn a total of 320 career points for GW--second all-time. An NCAA qualifier at 177 pounds, Peterson won the Capital Collegiate Conference in 1986 and 1987, as well as an NCAA Eastern Regional Championship. GW’s Outstanding Senior Athlete in 1987, Peterson was just the fourth GW wrestler in the program’s history to reach 100 career wins, and his .822 dual meet winning percentage ranks fourth all-time at GW.
Karen Ercole, Administration
Ercole joined GW in 1991 and started as an academic adviser before being promoted to executive director for academic assistance in 2000. In that role, Ercole oversaw all academic support services for more than 400 student-athletes. In 2011, Karen was promoted to the role of associate athletics director for educational support services and student-athlete development. She was also appointed as the department's senior woman administrator and deputy Title IX coordinator. During her 24- year tenure, Ercole oversaw several enhancements to the department including the addition of a student-athlete leadership academy and a fall orientation program for all student-athletes. In addition, Ercole implemented the Office of Student-Athlete Development, which focuses on career readiness, leadership development and community service initiatives.
1993 Sweet Sixteen Team, Men’s Basketball
Behind the remarkable accomplishments of Sports Illustrated Freshman of the Year Yinka Dare, the 1992-93 GW men's basketball team nearly shocked the world in an NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen game against Michigan's famed Fab Five. The run to the second weekend of the tournament marks the furthest the program has ever advanced in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and brought national acclaim to Foggy Bottom. Just four seasons prior, GW endured a 1-27 season. The Buff and Blue opened the tournament with an upset win against No. 5 New Mexico, 82–68, with first- year guard Kwame Evans coming off the bench to score a team-high 19 points, while Dare notched his typical double-double. With a final record of 21-9, Dare, Dirkk Surles, Sonni Holland and company will forever be GW icons.