Paying tribute

Steve Witty wasn’t fully briefed on Franklin College’s athletics legacy before he decided to go there.

He’s pretty proud of it now. He’s also a big part of it.

Witty, a Center Grove and Franklin College grad who was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012 and currently serves as its vice president, is one of 45 former Grizzly athletes and coaches who have been named to various state and national halls of fame. Those 45 will be honored by Franklin College today at a special on-campus ceremony.

A plaque bearing all of the honorees’ names will be unveiled at 11 a.m. in the Spurlock Center lobby. Several distinguished alumni — including Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame president Sam Alford — will be among those attending the dedication event.

“It’s really an honor for me to have my name placed alongside the names of others who have had recognition on the state and national level,” Witty said.

Among the names on the plaque will be Robert “Fuzzy” Vandivier, a 1926 Franklin grad who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1975, and Carol Tumey, who graduated in 1963 and has since become an Indiana Hall of Famer in both basketball and track and field.

Franklin has left a particularly large footprint in basketball, having sent 21 alums into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. (As a point of reference, that’s more than Notre Dame, IUPUI, or Evansville.)

Athletics director Kerry Prather is thrilled to be able to highlight the school’s sports heritage in some way, noting that Grizzlies athletes and coaches “have distinguished themselves disproportionately across several sports for an institution our size.”

“It’s kind of amazing to me that Franklin has had so many,” Witty added. “And that’s probably a real tribute to Franklin College for providing the type of educational opportunities and preparation for individuals to excel.”

Ryan O'Leary is sports editor for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2715.