WMU - Caroline Mullen-Kearney Honored as Part of 2014 MAC Hall of Fame Class

WMU - Caroline Mullen-Kearney Honored as Part of 2014 MAC Hall of Fame Class

Provided by WMU

Courtesy: Mid-American Conference

Release: 03/14/2014

Seven iconic names in MAC history—Charlie Coles, Judy Devine, Harry Houska, Jim Lessig, Caroline Mullen-Kearney, Sally Northcroft, Joe Novak—will be inducted into the MAC Hall of Fame on May 13, 2014.

Cleveland, Ohio – The Mid-American Conference announced today the 2014 MAC Hall of Fame Induction Class as seven new members will be inducted in the MAC Hall of Fame on Tuesday, May 13 during the MAC Honor’s Dinner at the Cleveland Renaissance Hotel.

The seven inductees are Charlie Coles (Miami/Central Michigan, men’s basketball), Judy Devine (Kent State, administration), Harry Houska (Ohio, wrestling), Jim Lessig (MAC/Bowling Green, administration), Caroline Mullen-Kearney (Western Michigan, women’s track and cross country), Sally Northcroft (Ball State, field hockey) and Joe Novak (Northern Illinois, football).

“It is only appropriate for our Conference to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of our former student-athletes, coaches and administrators, specifically these seven individuals, and their achievements during their time competing in the Mid-American Conference,” said Dr. Jon Steinbrecher, MAC Commissioner. “We are honored to welcome them to the Mid-American Conference Hall of Fame.”

“The Mid-American Conference Hall of Fame is a testament to the achievements of those that have competed and served in this great Conference,” added Steinbrecher.

The MAC Hall of Fame was approved by the MAC Council of Presidents in 1987. The charter class was inducted in 1988 and subsequent classes were added in 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1994. After six induction classes, the MAC Hall of Fame maintained 52 members until it was reinstated in May of 2012. This year’s class brings the number of MAC Hall of Fame inductees to 72 individuals from nine classes.

Tickets are available for the MAC Honor's Dinner on Tuesday, May 13 at 6:00 pm ET at the Cleveland Renaissance Hotel. Individual tickets ($100 each) and a table of ten ($950) are available for purchase. Contact Julie Kachner at the Mid-American Conference office at 216-566-4622.

Complete bios for the 2014 MAC Hall of Fame Class are listed below.


Founded in 1946, the Mid-American Conference is an NCAA Division I, 12-member conference that sponsors 23 championships and is one of ten members of the Football Bowl Subdivison (FBS). With total enrollment of nearly 300,000 students, the league represents institutions of higher learning in six (6) states - Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, and Ohio. In addition a 13th school – University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA. -- is an affiliate member for football only.

Current MAC schools that hold full membership and the year they joined are -- East Division: University of Akron (1992), Bowling Green State University (1952), University at Buffalo (1998), Kent State University (1951), Miami University (1947), Ohio University (1946). West Division: Ball State University (1973), Central Michigan University (1971), Eastern Michigan University (1971), Northern Illinois University (1975-86, rejoined in 1997), University of Toledo (1950), Western Michigan University (1947). The University of Massachusetts (2012) competes in the East Division in football only. The conference office is based in Cleveland, Ohio.

Complete Bios on the 2014 MAC Hall of Fame Class:

Charlie Coles- Miami/Central Michigan (men’s basketball):

Charlie Coles represented Miami University with success throughout his entire career which began as a student-athlete and continued as an assistant coach and head men’s basketball coach. Coles guided his teams to more Mid-American Conference wins than any other men’s basketball coach in MAC history amassing a league record of 218-155 (.584) in 22 seasons as a head coach.

Coles earned three letters at Miami from 1963-65, was named Second-Team All-MAC as a junior and senior and was a member of Miami’s MAC Co-Championship team in 1964-65. He averaged double figures in scoring all three seasons, including an 18.5 points per game average as a junior. Coles ranks 30th on Miami’s career-scoring list with 1,096 career points and his 15.4 ppg career average ties for 10th all-time at Miami.

Coles began his head coaching career at Central Michigan for six seasons (1985-91). Coles spent two seasons as an assistant coach at Miami (1994-96) before being named head coach in 1996. He went on to serve 16 seasons as head coach (1996-2012) and is Miami’s all-time leader in wins with a 263-224 career record and finished his career tied for second among MAC coaches for career coaching wins with a record of 355-308. As a MAC head coach, his teams made eight postseason appearances (Central Michigan: NCAA 1987 – Miami: NCAA 1997, 1999, 2007; NIT 2005, 2006; CBI 2008, 2011).

Coles was a legend in Oxford both for his success on the court and for his loveable and engaging personality off the court. Coles directed his first Miami squad to a 21-9 record and the 1997 NCAA Tournament and became just the second coach in Miami history to lead his team to the MAC title, 20 or more wins and the NCAA Tournament in his first season.

Coles led Miami to an NCAA Sweet 16 appearance in 1999 with wins over Washington and Utah, which marked the first time a Miami team won two games in the NCAA Tournament. Also in 1999, Miami won its 20th MAC regular-season championship en route to a school-record-tying 24 victories (24-8) and also earned its highest national ranking in 20 years, finishing the season with the No. 20 spot in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' poll.

Coles mentored two MAC Players of the Year (Wally Szczerbiak, Michael Bramos), three MAC Tournament MVPs (Dan Majerle, Devin Davis, Tim Pollitz) and 20 Miami student-athletes garnered 32 All-MAC awards, including 10 first-team honorees.

In his last nine seasons at Miami, the RedHawks had eight student-athletes capture a combined 10 First-Team All-MAC accolades and Miami was the only MAC men's basketball program during that stretch to have at least one first-team honoree each of the nine seasons. Coles was twice named MAC Coach of the Year (1987; 2005) and was the 2011 NABC District 14 Coach of the Year.

During his tenure as head coach, Coles was thought to be the only Division I head coach to teach a class – appropriately a basketball coaching theory class at Miami University. He was presented with a Guardian of the Game Pillar Award for Education presented by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) in 2011.

Coles was involved with the development of the Coaches vs. Cancer of Southwest Ohio initiative and assisted with the United Way campaigns in Oxford. He was actively involved with his church and even found time to coach his granddaughter’s youth flag football and basketball teams. He was inducted into the Miami Athletics Hall of Fame in 1990, the Greater Cincinnati Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008 and Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011.

Coles passed away June 7, 2013. He is survived by his wife, Delores, and two children, son Chris and daughter Mary.

Judy Devine- Kent State (administration):

Judy Devine has been a champion for student athletes throughout her career at Kent State and her commitment for equity for all continues to shape the culture and policies within the Kent State athletic department. She is considered the matriarch of Kent State athletics.

Devine played five varsity sports in college, earning 18 letters, and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Colorado State in 1969 with a B.S. in Health and Physical Education and earned her Master’s in Health and Physical Education from Kent State in 1970.

Devine served as Kent State’s assistant coach in women’s basketball (1969-72), field hockey (1969-70) and softball (1969-70) before becoming women’s head basketball coach (1972-77), head field hockey coach (1970-80) and head women’s athletic trainer (1969-75).

When the men’s and women’s athletic programs merged in 1975, Devine was selected as an Assistant Athletics Director and was elevated to Associate Athletics Director in 1978. She retired from her post as Senior Associate Athletics Director in 2000 following 31 years of service in numerous roles within the athletic department. Her Emeritus status was conferred by the Kent State Board of Trustees in 2000 as at the time of her retirement she coordinated all student athlete services including financial aid, housing, awards, academic performance, compliance and eligibility.

She also served on many institutional, conference and NCAA committees during her career including: the Kent State National Athletic Development Committee (1998-2013), Kent State Athletic Hall of Fame Selection Committee (1984-present), Co-Chair Kent State Women’s Athletic Centennial Celebration (2009-10), Kent State Women’s Center Advisory Board (2011-present), Kent State Title IX Compliance Self Study Committee (2012-present), Chair of the MAC Senior Administrators Committee (1995-2000), Vice Chair of the NCAA Academics/Eligibility/Compliance Cabinet (1997-2000), Chair of the NCAA ACE Cabinet Subcommittee on Continuing Eligibility (1997-2000), NCAA DI Working Group to Study Basketball Issues (1998-2000), NCAA DI Working Group to Study Eligibility and Financial Aid (1998-2000) and Founder and Emcee for the Kent State Athletic Academic Honors Dinner (1982-2000) and was honored as the Kent State Commencement Speaker in August, 2010.

Devine was inducted in the Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Society and was awarded the National Association for Sport and Physical Education Inspiration Award in 1992. She received the Ohio House of Representatives Special Recognition Award (2000) and Ohio Senate Special Recognition Award (2000), was named the first female recipient of the Kent State Varsity K Alumni Association ‘Person of the Year’ (2000) and inducted into the Kent State Athletic Hall of Fame (2003).

In 2012, Devine was one of 25 candidates nationwide for the Title IX Trailblazer Award, which honored individuals who made significant contributions in the area of gender equity. In 2014, she was awarded Kent State’s Diversity Trailblazer Award for her contributions of diversity to the university community.

Devine has provided a permanent endowment for the Kent State Athletic Academic Honors Dinner and provided the lead gift for the Athletic Academic Resource Center expansion. In addition, her creation of the Athletic Equity Endowment brings her contributions to Kent State to more than $1.4 million.

Devine retired from Kent State in 2000 and is a Senior Associate Athletics Director and Professor, Emeritus at Kent State and Adjunct Professor at Malone University. She resides in Uniontown, Ohio.

Harry Houska- Ohio (wrestling):

Harry Houska came to Ohio University as a student-athlete in 1961 and marked the beginning of one of the finest wrestling careers in Conference history as both a competitor (1961-64) and coach (1968-97). His toughness and tenacity left an indelible mark on Ohio University and elevated the national stature of Mid-American Conference wrestling. During his tenure, Ohio led the MAC in team championships, individual champions, All-Americans and NCAA Champions.

Houska was a three-time Mid-American Conference champion and an NCAA qualifier in three different weight classes. In 1963, Houska claimed runner-up honors at the NCAA Championships at the 177-pound weight class. In the spring of 1964, Houska captured the NCAA title competing at the 191-pound weight class. He concluded his collegiate career without a single loss in dual competition, posting an incredible 76-3 record, with the only three losses coming at the NCAA Championships.

A gold medal winner at the 1967 Winnipeg Pan-American Games, Houska also represented the United States that year by placing fourth at the World Championships in New Delhi, India. In 1968, he became just the third head coach in Ohio University history, at title he would hold for the next thirty years.

In just his third season at the helm, Houska led Ohio to its first Conference championship in 13 years. The title began an unprecedented streak of seven consecutive MAC titles (1970-76), 11 total MAC team titles and three NCAA Top 10 team finishes in 1970, 1973 and 1997. Houska coached two National Champions, 13 All-Americans, produced 69 individual MAC Champions and was named MAC Coach of the Year five times.

Houska was named the Ohio University Athlete of the Decade for the period 1960-70. He is a member of the Ohio Athletics Hall of Fame, the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame, the Ohio Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and the Parma Senior High School Hall of Fame.

Houska graduated from Ohio University in 1965 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education and earned his Master’s in Education. He is retired and currently resides in Athens, Ohio.

Jim Lessig- Mid-American Conference/Bowling Green (administration):

Jim Lessig served as MAC Commissioner from 1982 to 1990 and made a significant impact in the early implementation of women’s athletics within the Conference, provided leadership in facility expansion and improvements and opened the league’s television exposure with the advent of regional television expansion.

A native of Canton, Ohio, Lessig received his bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in physical education from Bowling Green in 1957. He earned his master’s degree in school administration and speech in 1967 from Bowling Green.

Lessig served Bowling Green in several capacities in the 1960s and 70’s, including assistant basketball coach, assistant athletic director, director of alumni affairs and executive director of alumni and development before being named athletic director in 1978. In 1969, he left Bowling Green to become assistant basketball coach to Bill Fitch at the University of Minnesota.

One year later, Lessig was on the ground floor of the NBA expansion franchise Cleveland Cavaliers as assistant coach, head scout and director of special promotions. He also served as analyst for Cavalier basketball games and Cleveland Indians baseball games.

Lessig rejoined the Bowling Green staff in 1971 and continued his successful career at the university until he was named athletic director at Kansas in May of 1982. However, later in the year, Lessig received the ultimate compliment as he was summoned back to lead the MAC as Commissioner in 1982.

As commissioner, Lessig instituted promotional programs to increase the visibility and recognition of MAC teams and student-athletes, extended the MAC’s contract to play in the California Bowl and put together a television package which gave the conference at that time its greatest exposure ever on television.

Under his direction, the MAC with nine full-time members, sponsored 18 championships in football, baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, tennis, swimming, track and field and wrestling. Lessig also directed the early implementation of women’s athletics in the MAC, which began in 1980, as the MAC added women’s athletics in basketball, cross country, field hockey, gymnastics, softball, swimming, tennis, track and field and volleyball.

Lessig also provided leadership for the conference in facility expansion and improvement. During his tenure, six of the nine MAC programs expanded or improved their football stadiums, including Ohio, Toledo, Western Michigan, Miami, Kent State and Bowling Green.

The foresight of Lessig to value television exposure for a conference and its members was vital for the MAC to get in at the ground floor at the time of regional television expansion in the 1980s. At the time, the MAC signed a regional television deal with SportsChannel cable network to broadcast MAC football and basketball games. The SportsChannel America network began in 1984 and by the end of Lessig’s tenure at the MAC, SportsChannel America reached over 22 million homes and provided coverage for the conference through expanded coverage in SportsChannel Ohio and SportsChannel Chicago.

Lessig also conceived and coordinated the highly-successful MAC 40th Anniversary Reunion in 1986 and in 1988 his efforts produced the charter class of the MAC Hall of Fame.

Jim and his wife, Margarita, reside in Toledo, Ohio.

Caroline Mullen-Kearney- Western Michigan (women’s track and cross country):

Caroline Mullen-Kearney competed in both women’s track and field and cross country at Western Michigan from 1986 to 1990 and she was named an All-American in both track & field in 1987 and cross country in 1986.

Mullen-Kearney graduated from Western Michigan in 1990 with a degree in social work. She was named Western Michigan’s top female Senior Scholarship Athlete in 1987 and 1990 and was named to the All-MAC Academic Teams in 1988 and 1990.

Mullen-Kearney placed third (17:09) at the 1986 NCAA Cross Country Championships and fourth in the 5,000 (15:56.30) at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. She also took fourth at the 1987 NCAA Outdoor Championships, posting the fastest time ever by a MAC runner.

Mullen-Kearney won Conference Championships in the 3,000 (1987) and 5,000 (1987, 1989) and is the only Western Michigan female to have captured three MAC Cross Country titles. She was the 1987 Penn Relays 5,000 champion and holds the school indoor records in the 3,000 (9:26.35) and two-mile (10:13.20). She holds the schools outdoor records in the 1,500 (4:24.06), 3,000 (9:20.39) and 5,000 (15:56.30). Her 5,000 outdoor time is also a MAC record.

After graduating in 1990, Mullen-Kearney spent one summer in Interlochen International Music camp as a counselor. She spent one year in England as a residential care nurse for adults with physical and mental disabilities. She returned to Ireland and attended Maynooth College in Kildare, Ireland to receive an H. Dip in community work and youth work.

She worked for Dell Computers in Dublin in the telesales department, where she received qualification in computer and office tech. Since 1995, Mullen-Kearney has worked as a clerical officer in the National Rehabilitation Board (NRB), a semi-state body that assists helping people with various disabilities to get back into part-time rehabilitative employment. She was also receiving qualification in physical therapy and sports injuries and planned on setting up her own clinic in 2001.

Mullen-Kearney has competed in over 15 events since competing in college, including four first-place finishes. She placed first in Co. Westmeath Championships in 1995 and 1997. She also represented Ireland at the 1996 Aidken Road Relays, a top international event in Seoul, South Korea and helped her team place fifth.

Mullen-Kearney and her husband, John, have two children, son Cian and daughter Aisling and the family resides in Cork, Ireland.

Sally Northcroft- Ball State (field hockey):

Sally Northcroft competed in field hockey at Ball State from 1996 to 1999 and finished her career as the school and MAC leader in career goals (126) and career points (270), while ranking third in NCAA all-time leaders in both categories.

During her collegiate career, Northcroft helped Ball State to a 64-21 overall record and led the Cardinals to a 42-4 Conference record. She owned the national all-time single-season goal record with 52 goals in 1999.

Northcroft was named All-America First Team (1998-1999), MAC Player of the Year (1998-1999), All-Midwest/West Regional First Team (1998-1999), First Team All-MAC (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999), GTE Fall/Winter All-District (1998), NCAA Today’s Top VIII Award (1999-2000), and the Honda Award (1999-2000).

Northcroft led the nation in goals scored (52), total points (107) and scoring average (5.09) as a senior in 1999. She set the NCAA Division I record for goals in a single-season with 52 goals in 1999 and during that season registered multiple goals in 15 of 21 contests.

Northcroft was President of the Ball State’s Student-Athlete Advisory Board, represented the school at the NCAA Foundation Leadership Conference and was a volunteer for Habitat For Humanity, Big Brother/Big Sister, Meals on Wheels and various literacy programs in local elementary schools in Muncie, Ind.

During her collegiate career, she also garnered multiple academic accomplishments including named GTE Academic All-America Fall/Winter Team (1999-2000), Academic All-MAC First Team (1997-1998) and a three-time National Academic Team Member (1996-98)

Northcroft graduated with a 3.58 GPA with a degree in physical education in 1999 and was also inducted to the Ball State Athletics Hall of Fame.

Joe Novak- Northern Illinois (football):

Joe Novak has had a life-long association with Mid-American Conference football, beginning with his playing days at Miami University for Head Coach Bo Schembechler and stretching to his retirement after 12 seasons (1996-2007) as Northern Illinois head coach in 2007. As a player and assistant coach for Miami and then for Northern Illinois, he was a part of five MAC Championships.

As Northern Illinois head coach from 1996-2007, Novak resurrected the Huskie program with four MAC West titles, one MAC Championship game, two bowl appearances and he earned MAC Coach of the Year honors in 2002 and AFCA Region 3 Coach of the Year accolades in 2003. Novak graduated from Miami in 1967 with a Bachelor’s of Arts in education and earned his Master’s in education administration in 1968 in Oxford.

A Mentor, Ohio native, Novak played on back-to-back MAC Co-Championship teams at Miami University in 1965 and 1966 as a standout defensive end. He returned to Miami in 1974 to begin his collegiate coaching career as an assistant at his alma mater under Dick Crum, where he served as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach from 1974-76. He helped lead Miami to back-to-back MAC titles and undefeated league records in 1974 and 1975, and to two straight appearances in the Tangerine Bowl. Miami went 10-0-1 in 1974 and 11-1 in 1975, defeating Georgia and South Carolina, respectively, in bowl games.

He returned to the MAC as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach on Bill Mallory’s Northern Illinois staff from 1980-83. The Huskies went 7-4 in his first season with a victory over eventual MAC Champion, Central Michigan, and won the school’s first Mid-American Conference title in 1983 before going onto win the California Bowl. Northern Illinois finished the 1983 season with a school-record 10 wins.

Novak continues to be a huge supporter of Northern Illinois University and the MAC. He was inducted into the Miami Athletics Hall of Fame in 2007. In 2013 he was inducted into the Northern Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. He was inducted into Miami’s “Cradle of Coaches” in 2012 and has served as a Harris Poll Voter since his retirement.

Novak attended the 2010 and 2011 MAC Championship games, and almost every NIU bowl game since his retirement. He attends Northern Illinois and Miami games annually, and returns to DeKalb every summer for the Brigham-Novak Golf Tournament which raises funds for the Huskie Football program.

Novak truly paved the way for Northern Illinois current string of success by tirelessly working to not only build a football program of which Huskie alums can be proud, but to build it the right way, - the “hard way” - with character. Later in his career, the completion of the Yordon Center, NIU’s landmark athletic and academic performance facility, became his personal goal and he was directly involved in fundraising for the project, which has impacted every Northern Illinois student-athlete since its opening in 2007. The academic area of the Yordon Center is named for Joe and his wife, Carole.

Novak and his wife, Carole, are retired and reside in Southport, North Carolina. The couple have adult sons, David and Jeremy.