Release Date: January 30, 2002
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Two women who helped the University at Buffalo gain conference supremacy in track and field and cross country, one of the finest tennis players in school history, a defensive standout on the football field in the mid-80s and a pitcher who established 14 softball records will be inducted into the University at Buffalo Athletic Hall of Fame during a dinner and induction ceremony on Feb. 22 in the Center for Tomorrow on the UB North (Amherst) Campus.
In addition to the five inductees, three individuals who played critical roles in UB's elevation to Division I status, including former UB President Steven B. Sample, also will be honored and a former UB faculty member will receive the Russell J. Gugino Award.
The Athletic Hall of Fame was established by the UB Alumni Association in 1965 to honor athletes, coaches, teams and individuals who have served the athletic program in an exemplary manner.
Tickets for the event, which will begin with a cocktail reception at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m., are $55. They may be purchased by contacting the UB Office of Alumni Relations at 800-284-5382.
This year's inductees are:
o Bridget Niland, B.A., '95, J.D. '98, of Indianapolis, and Judith Novak, B.A. '96, of Washington, D.C., combined to make the women's track-and-field and cross-country programs the dominant ones in the East Coast and Mid-Continent conferences.
Bridget Niland set five individual track-and-field (outdoor and indoor) distance records during her career, and was a member of three relays that broke school standards. She also won four individual East Coast Conference championship events and was part of two title-winning relays. UB won ECC crowns in indoor (1992 and 1995) and outdoor (1992) while she competed.
Niland captained the 1993 cross-country team that won the conference championship, in which she was named individual champion. In 1992, she set the school record for cross country on UB's home course and the previous year was all-conference as UB claimed the ECC team title.
From 1994-98, Niland was a member of the NCAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, chairing the group from 1996-98. She helped draft and argued successfully for NCAA legislation to allow full-scholarship student-athletes to maintain part-time jobs or internships. At that same NCAA convention, she also argued for the adoption of legislation to allow partial qualifiers to earn a fourth year of eligibility if specific academic requirements were met. That legislation also was adopted.
Judith Novak was UB's female athlete of the year in 1993. She won MVP team honors that year and in track and field in '94, and in cross country in '92 and '95, eclipsing the records in the 3000- and 5000-meter (outdoor and indoor) runs that Niland had set. She also broke records in the 800, 1000 and 1500 meters (indoor and outdoor) and was a member of the 4x800 and distance-medley record-breaking relays.
She was the Mid-Continent Conference runner of the year in '94 and was all conference in '95 as well. During her years ('92-96) of competition, UB never lost a conference championship in the sports in which she competed. Novak still holds six UB track-and-field records and recorded the quickest time ever by a UB athlete in the 5K.
o Todd Miller of East Amherst, who has introduced thousands to tennis as the top teaching professional in Western New York during the past two decades, played first singles for UB, compiling a winning percentage of .846 during three years of court competition. He also was ranked second among the state's college players each of those three years.
Miller, who enrolled at UB in 1977, left school following his junior year to teach the sport. He earned his degree 10 years later while attending part-time and serving as the executive director and head pro at the Amherst Hills Tennis Club.
Miller earned team MVP honors in 1978 and served as UB's captain in 1978 and 1979. He was a two-time (1978-79) singles championship finalist in the SUNYAC tournament, a first doubles finalist ('78), and won two Big Four singles and doubles championships.
o Kimberly Ring, '85, of Chicago, was the MVP on the 1985 softball team that won the SUNYAC championship, was ranked 12th in the country and participated in the Division III national championships. She compiled an earned run average of 1.85 that season, won 13 games -- the team was 19-7 entering the NCAA tournament -- and started 16.
Ring still holds team career records for games (45), innings pitched (276.1), strikeouts (93) and wins (26), and is second in ERA (2.36). Her 13 wins remain a UB single-season record. She also is second in single-season wins with 10, second and third in single-season ERA (1.85 in 1985 and 2.36 in 1984), third in strikeouts (39), second and third in innings pitched and third and fourth in games started and games played.
She was a three-year letter winner (she didn't play as a freshman) and earned four letters in basketball, in which she played in 80 games, scoring 488 points and grabbing 231 rebounds.
o Mike Laipple, '87, of Orchard Park, turned down Division I scholarships to play football at UB. A former officer in student government, he went on to become one of the most reliable tacklers in Bulls' history. He was recognized for his defensive prowess in 1985 when he was named both an Associated Press and a Pizza Hut Honorable Mention All-American.
He followed that up his senior year by earning Pizza Hut All-American second-team accolades, while also being named to the Eastern College Athletic Conference Division III team.
A 6-3, 230-pound linebacker and a four-year starter, Laipple led the Bulls in tackles as a sophomore (93), junior (with a then-record 127) and senior (125). He had 81 assists in '85 and through his junior year had compiled 192, which were both school records. Laipple remains the UB career leader in assisted tackles (265), was the career leader in total tackles (402) for 10 years and stands fourth in solo tackles (137).
Steven B. Sample, who now serves as president of the University of Southern California; State Sen. Kenneth LaValle, and the late James Hansen, a former faculty member in the Graduate School of Education and former chair of the Intercollegiate Athletics Board, will receive the UB Alumni Association's Builder's Award in recognition of their roles in successfully proposing and working with the State University of New York Board of Trustees to change SUNY policy regarding the ability to reward grants to student-athletes. The policy change eventually allowed UB to return to Division I competition.
In addition, Walter Kunz, Ed.M., '65, Ph.D. '70, of East Aurora, a former UB faculty member and longtime advocate and supporter of the Division of Athletics, will receive the Russell J. Gugino Award, named in honor of a past president of the UB Alumni Association and given to alumni who have "made significant contributions of time and resources" to the athletic program.