Panther Athletics Hall of Fame
Class of 2007
(l-r) Jamison Smith, Steve Hart and John Coggins (not pictured: Jean-Ann Morton)
Purdue North Central athletics announced the second class of inductees into the recently formed PNC Athletic Hall of Fame. Four new members, John Coggins, Steve Hart, Jean-Ann Morton and Jamison Smith, joined last year's inaugural class of Ed Bednar, Larry Blake, and Jerry Lewis at the annual sports recognition banquet this past spring.
The efforts of these four new members and the initial Hall of Fame class, have literally taken the athletic program to new heights. Either as an administrator, coach, student-athlete or in a service capacity, each has left their mark on the PNC Athletic Department as it continues to grow.
Coggins, employed by PNC for the past 32 years, has been the Dean of Students the past 21 years. In his current position he has overseen the transition from club and intramural sports to the current status of NAIA intercollegiate sports.
Coggins is largely responsible and generally regarded as the driving force behind PNC making this transition. He continuously fought for more athletic opportunities as he has oversight of the Athletic Department as the Dean of Students.
The Athletic Department now has four intercollegiate sports, athletic scholarships and has raised the bar significantly both on and off the field despite not having an indoor athletic facility and limited resources. During his tenure, Coggins has served as Athletic Director on four different occasions, and has assisted in game management since the school went to NAIA status in 1999.
Although he was being recognized for his contribution to athletics, it is important to note Coggins contributions to all students at PNC. He was Chairman of teams that have written grants which have brought millions to PNC, including SSS and Talent search, has been the Teacher of the Year eight times (every time he was eligible), and was in charge of enrollment 13 years - generating an increase each time. Coggins has also represented PNC in the community, having served on countless charities and committees.
During his acceptance speech, Coggins highlighted the best thing at PNC was the great people he worked with and was happy to lead and represent PNC during a remarkable time of transition.
Steve Hart played basketball for Purdue North Central from 1967 to 1972, and helped start the inaugural program on campus. Hart convinced Ed Bednar, who was inducted to the PNC Athletic Hall of Fame in last year's first class, to start a program. Bednar, who presented Hart at the Hall of Fame banquet, drummed up enough support to land PNC in the Industrial League and the AAU League. Eventually, their success was a base for what eventually led to intercollegiate athletics at PNC.
Hart led the team in scoring by averaging 21.9 points in 18 games in the 1968-69 season. After attending Purdue West Lafayette for the 69-70 season, Hart averaged 20.5 points in 1970-71 and concluded his career by averaging 18.2 points in 27 games during the 1971-72 season. Rebounding statistics were not kept back then but Hart was equally known for his dominance on the boards as much as he was for his scoring.
Upon his graduation, Hart held many PNC records: career points (1399), single season points (514 in 1971-72), career scoring average (20.0), highest scoring average season (21.9 in 1968-69), single game scoring (43 points verses Roosevelt University on Dec. 15, 1970 in 2 overtimes), most field goals game (17 verses Roosevelt), and most field goals season (209 in 1970-71).
Hart led PNC to 16-11 record and the Eight Team Regional Campus Championship in 1971-72. He was also named to All-Tournament teams at the Indiana Institute of Technology Classic in 1968-69 and the Regional Campus State Tournament in 1971-72.
According to Bednar, Hart's contributions to the development of intercollegiate basketball were paramount both on and off the court. He was a leader in student activities, and an excellent student as well. Hart graduated from Purdue University with a degree in Industrial Management and later earned his MBA from IU-South Bend. His wife (Bonnie Dempsey) was also a PNC graduate and they have two sons who also graduated from Purdue.
Jean-Ann Morton has been the cheerleading coach for the Panthers since 1995 and has worked at PNC since 1987. Her ties to PNC began all the way back in 1964 when she started taking classes at Barker Mansion in Michigan City in 1964, before the campus was located in Westville. Morton was inducted for her service to the Athletic Department as she has volunteered to coach the cheerleaders during this time.
Morton used her many years of experience in cheerleading, dancing, gymnastics, choreography and theatre to help the cheerleading program evolve. She set standards for all the students regarding grades, community service and behavior. Under her direction the program continued to prosper and the cheerleaders have now become ambassadors for the University. Besides the obvious athletic events, such as PNC basketball games, the cheerleaders are often out in the community at parades, charity events and many other happenings.
During Morton's tenure the program has had many limitations (facility, budgets) but Morton and the cheerleaders persevered. Despite numerous obstacles, Morton secured quality coaches, volunteers and staff to maintain the program and lead camps and clinics. She insisted that all volunteer coaches and many of the cheer members become national safety certified instructors like herself.
Morton hopes that through her dedication the program can be brought to the next level at PNC. She has seen the effects already in the area as many of her former cheerleaders have gone on to coach at the high school level.
Finally, Jamison Smith played basketball for PNC from 1997 to 2002, leading the transition from club to NAIA intercollegiate sports in 1999-2000. His all-around game and commitment to the program, like Steve Hart, helped move the program forward.
Smith averaged 13.5 points per game in 1997-98 and 14.1 in 1998-99. When the program became intercollegiate the next season, teams focused on Smith and tried to shut him down. His scoring averaged dropped to 11.4 in 1999-2000, but he rebounded with a 15.8 average in 2000-01 and 13 points per game in 2001-02.
Smith's all-around game made him difficult to defend as he could take his 6'4 frame and score from inside and out. Despite limited help, Smith averaged 13.7 points per game for his career, making 630 of 1723 filed goal attempts (37 %). He also connected on 178 of 591 (31%) three-point attempts while knocking down 329 of 466 (71 %) of his free throws.
Smith averaged 6.1 rebounds for his career with a high of 7.5 during the 1998-99 season. His ability to handle the ball allowed him to distribute 300 assists during his career and his defensive quickness gave him the ability to accumulate 198 steals.
Perhaps Smith's greatest achievement, was that he averaged more than 35 minutes per game for PNC, with a remarkable 39.9 minutes average in 1997-98. His conditioning gave him the ability to stay on the floor and play 134 games during his career.
Smith was named captain of his team during his entire time at Purdue North Central and was the Most Valuable Player in 1997-98. He led the team in rebounding in 1998-99 and earned the Senior Award in 2001-02 for leadership and commitment (missed one practice in five years). He was also named to several All Tournament teams, including Marion College Invite in 1997, the Gates Automotive Classic at Bethel College in 2000 and the Big Four Classic at Moody Bible Institute in 2001.
Off the court, Smith was also a leader for PNC. He helped lead the search for a school mascot by polling the student body and submitted the Panther for its color, alliteration and symbolism. He was a member of the Student Government from 2000 to 2002, was a charter member for Kappa Delta Pi (International Honor Society) in 2002 and served as a Student Education Association member from 2000-2002.
Smith earned his Elementary Education degree from PNC in 2002 and currently serves as a member of the PNC Athletic Advisory Board. Smith was presented by Larry Blake Sr., a 2006 HOF inductee, and his basketball coach at PNC.
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