Three football greats and the largest group of female athlete inductees highlight Colorado’s 2022 Athletic Hall of Fame class.
CU announced its 17th Athletic Hall of Fame class on Tuesday and the group of nine will be honored in October.
Football legends Greg Biekert (1989-92), Charlie Davis (1971-73) and Jay Leeuwenburg (1988-91) will become the latest Hall of Famers at CU from the gridiron.
For the first time, four female athletes will be in one class, with track and field stars Jane Frederick (1970-73) and Yolanda Johnson (1987-91), skier Maria Grevsgaard and gymnast Debbie Willcox (1978-80) set for induction. CU had four females in the 2010 class, with three athletes and coach Ceal Barry being inducted, but this year’s class is the first with four female athletes.
In addition, Jimmy Griffith (skiing) and former athletic director Dick Tharp (1996-2004) will be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Biekert and Leeuwenburg were teammates on CU’s national title team in 1990.
A linebacker, Biekert was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award in 1992. He was also voted CU’s MVP in 1992 while earning unanimous All-Big Eight honors that season. A graduate of Longmont High School, he still ranks third on CU’s list for career tackles (441).
Leeuwenburg was a three-year starter at center and a unanimous first-team All-American in 1991. He earned all-American honorable mention in 1990 and was first-team All-Big Eight twice.
Davis starred as a running back for the Buffs and earned honorable mention All-American honors in 1971. His 1,386 rushing yards in 1971 still rank fifth for a single season in CU history. He ranks sixth in CU history with 2,958 career rushing yards.
Frederick began attending CU in 1970, before the school had women’s varsity programs. But, she used the facilities at CU to train and was one of five people to approach athletic director Eddie Crowder about starting a women’s track and field program. In 1973, she won the AIAW national title in the pentathlon, becoming the first female national champion at CU in any sport.
Grevsgaard was a member of CU’s 2006 national championship ski team and also won two individual NCAA Nordic titles. She was the first eight-time All-American in CU skiing history.
Johnson, known as “Yo-Yo,” was a three-time first-team All-American, including twice in the 100-meter hurdles (1990 and 1991) and in the 55-meter hurdles (1990). She still holds the school record in the 55-meter hurdles (7.60 seconds). She never lost a race during her time at George Washington High School.
Willcox was a star as a freshman with the CU gymnastics team in 1979, but never competed again after a knee injury during the AIAW regionals that spring. Before the injury, she was the Big Eight all-round champion. As a youth, she won the 1974 U.S. title in the all-around, won two medals at the 1975 Pan American Games and competed in the 1976 Olympics.
Griffith is considered to be CU’s first star in skiing. Competing for CU from 1947-51, he won four collegiate races and had nine top-five finishes. A member of the U.S. national team, he was named to the Olympic team in November of 1951, but died on Dec. 6, 1951, after a training accident. He was in line to become the school’s second Olympian and the first in skiing.
Tharp was named the fourth full-time athletic director in CU history in 1997. He started CU’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998 and created the school’s “Living Legends” program. He hired several head coaches, including Gary Barnett (football) and current women’s golf coach Anne Kelly. Among his other accomplishments, he oversaw construction of the East Side Club and Suites for Folsom Field in 2003.