Murtaugh Prefers to Honor than Be Honored
Randy York's N-Sider
Five former Husker student-athletes were announced Sunday as 2014 Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame honorees. Along with others, they will be inducted into the foundation's statewide organization this fall in a major event at the Lied Center. The five include 1) former Husker first-team All-America linebacker Jerry Murtaugh; 2) former Nebraska second-team All-America pitcher Peaches James, one of four NU softball players to have her number permanently retired; and 3) former Husker gymnast Dennis Harrison, an 11-time All-American who won the 1994 NCAA all-around title while leading Nebraska to the national men's championship. The other two Huskers receiving prep Hall-of-Fame accolades are Scottsbluff natives Gary Niebauer and Gerry Ferguson. Niebauer played basketball, baseball and was a hurdler for NU's track team in the mid-1960s before pitching for the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies. Ferguson was a three-year football letterwinner as a halfback for the Huskers in the late 1940s.
A Big Eight Player of the Year and co-captain on Nebraska's first national championship team in 1970, Murtaugh has been around long enough to appreciate any honor that comes his way. But he’s more focused on honoring others than being honored himself. "Our Husker Greats Foundation is getting ready to host our annual golf outing, and this year we're calling it The Dave Humm Courage Open," Murtaugh said, pointing out that the event will be held in Littleton, Colo., a Denver suburb, on June 29th. "We hit the jackpot last summer in Vegas, and now it's the State of Colorado's turn to Rock it in the Rockies so we can help Huskers who need help."
Foundation’s First Recipient: Dave Humm
The Husker Greats Foundation provides medical and emergency assistance to former men and women student-athletes who lettered in their respective sports at universities or colleges in the State of Nebraska. Humm was the foundation’s first recipient. "Dave exemplifies the courage and determination Husker athletes have to meet health challenges for the rest of their lives," Murtaugh said.
The Husker Greats Foundation recently awarded a grant to help another member of the Nebraska Athletics family – Larry Florence, who is undergoing treatment for cancer. A four-year starting forward from Phenix City, Ala., Florence made 105 career starts and scored 1,223 career points. Regarded as one of the Huskers’ top defenders and hardest workers, on and off the court, Florence was the 1999 overall Husker Power Lifter of the Year and was named Nebraska Basketball Lifter of the Year three times. He started on an NCAA Tournament-qualifying team and on two Husker National Invitation Tournament teams. He was voted team captain in 2000.
Seeking Male, Female Recommendations
"The funds we raise help people like Larry in time of need, and we’re blessed to have individual donors and business sponsors that help us meet the needs of our Husker family," Murtaugh said before adding that anyone can recommend a former male or female student-athlete who might benefit from the Husker Greats Foundation.
Murtaugh said Omaha-based Webster Design is filming a documentary about the Husker Greats Foundation. "We would appreciate having as many former Huskers, both men and women, as we can get to attend this charitable event and become a part of this unique project," Murtaugh said. "Each story is about being part of the Husker family, and we want to enlighten others about the truth behind an expression that we all hear and all believe in…There really is no place like Nebraska".
Editor's note: Murtaugh can be reached at 402-301-5255. Golf Tournament Director Tim Carrothers’ number is 303-475-3104.
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