For the first time since its inception 18 years ago, there will be no new members added to the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford’s Athletics Hall of Fame.
The annual ceremony, which would typically be held this Saturday at the Alumni and Family Weekend on campus, has been canceled because of what the University is calling “significant issues” that were discovered as the date of the induction neared.
UPB’s Hall of Fame has inducted nearly 50 members since it was established in 2002.
“We are deeply sorry that we will not have a Hall of Fame induction this year,” Dr. Catherine Koverola, Pitt-Bradford’s president, said in a statement. “We were recently made aware that confirmation of eligibility and the necessary approval process was not followed. It is important that we follow these standard procedures before inducting any new Hall of Fame members in order to ensure the integrity of the award.”
When asked for additional details on what came to light during the process or what procedures were not followed, UPB spokeswoman Pat Frantz Cercone declined to elaborate, and cited federal privacy law.
“In several cases, confirmation of eligibility and necessary approvals were not obtained,” Frantz Cercone said. “As soon as we learned that, we acted swiftly. We felt it was important to follow these standard procedures before inducting any additional Hall of Fame members to ensure the integrity of the award.”
Koverola and UPB Athletic Director Bret Butler, through Frantz Cercone, declined additional comment.
According to UPB’s website, community members are able to submit recommendations to help the school determine candidates for the Hall of Fame.
Once the nominations are received, they are presented to the president for approval, and then sent to the Hall of Fame Selection Committee, which makes the final decision on the inductees.
The main criteria to be nominated as an athlete are listed on the site. They include: being a full-time student for two years, a letterwinner in at least one sport and being out of college sports for at least five years.
It is unclear what the nomination process for coaches or administrators is. Last year, former women’s volleyball player Tabitha Ryan was chosen as well as former golf coach Ed Gunkle and “lifelong supporter” Victor Longo, who supervised the athletic facilities for several decades.
The names of the three nominees that would have been inducted into this year’s class were not released.
Despite the deadline of March 31 for submitting prospective candidates to the HOF committee, the announcement that there would be no class at this weekend’s ceremony was not made until early September.
Koverola began her role as president of the University of Pittsburgh’s Bradford and Titusville campuses on June 1 after serving as the inaugural provost and senior advisor of the African Leadership University in Africa.
Frantz Cerone apologized for the abbreviated notice, but said the school had no choice.
“Unfortunately, information regarding significant irregularities in the process came to light very late in the process,” she explained. “As soon as we realized the issue, we made people aware of the situation. We are very sorry for the timing and for having to make this decision.
“However, I can’t stress enough that we acted swiftly as soon as we realized the situation. We had no other option.”
The goal now, according to Frantz Cercone, is to work “diligently” to make sure something similar does not occur in the future.
“To ensure the future success of this event, (Dr. Koverola) has asked for a thorough review and evaluation of the induction process and a clarification of the criteria,” she said.