Aug. 18, 2006
GREENVILLE, N.C. --- East Carolina University will induct five new members into its Athletics Hall of Fame this year including former All-America quarterback Jeff Blake, coach Pat Dye, All-America swimmer Ted Gartman, career women's basketball assists leader Gaynor O'Donnell and All-America outfielder Pat Watkins.
The ECU Athletics Hall of Fame committee voted Gartman, O'Donnell and Watkins in this year, while Blake and Dye were elected in previous years, but were unable to attend induction ceremonies prior to this season. The Hall of Fame Banquet will be held inside the Murphy Center on Friday, Oct. 6. The inductees will then be introduced to the public during the halftime of the ECU-Virginia football game on Saturday, Oct. 7.
Blake orchestrated the greatest season in Pirate football history, leading ECU to an 11-1 overall record and a final national ranking of No. 9 in 1991. As a senior, Blake finished ninth in the Heisman Trophy voting, and was named second-team All-America and East Coast Athletic Conference (ECAC) Player-of-the-Year. His 3,073 passing yards in 1991 still remains a school record. Blake spent 14 years as a quarterback in the National Football League with seven teams, passing for over 21,000 yards and was named to the Pro Bowl in 1996.
During Dye's six years as head football coach, ECU enjoyed unbridled success. He concluded his ECU career in 1979 with a record of 48-18-1, which ranks as the fourth-most wins by any coach in school history and produced the highest winning percentage of any coach to man the sidelines in at least 20 games. His Pirates won at least seven games each year, including a pair of nine-win seasons in 1976 and '78. Dye also directed the Pirates to a Southern Conference championship in 1976 and an Independence Bowl victory in 1978. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2005.
As co-captain of the 1957 swimming team, Gartman led East Carolina College to its first national championship that season and earned All-America honors in the 200 fly and 400-medley relay. The following season he received All-America honors in the free relay and 400-medley relay and became the first student-athlete to receive four letters in swimming. He spent 30 years as a member of the ECU faculty before retiring in 1999.
A native of Merseyside, England, O'Donnell lettered at ECU from 1989 to 1993 and still holds the all-time record for assists (833) as well as the season record (300, 1992-93) and single game record (20 vs. UNC Asheville in 1992). As a senior, she led the nation in assists, averaging 10.7 per game. She was the 14th ECU female player to score more than 1,000 career points, finishing her career with 1,015.
After being named Colonial Athletic Association Player-of-the-Year as junior in 1993, Watkins was selected by the Cincinnati Reds with the 32nd overall pick in the Major League Baseball Draft. Watkins is still the only ECU player ever to be taken in the first round. He batted .445 as a junior with 19 home runs and 57 RBIs and finished his career with a .352 batting average, which still ranks as the sixth highest career average in school history. He led the Pirates to NCAA Regional appearances in 1991 and '93, and the CAA Tournament Championship in 1993.
Since it was established in 1974, 117 former student-athletes, coaches, administrators and donors have been elected to the ECU Athletics Hall of Fame.