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UT ready to honor its best

Freddie Soloman and Tino Martinez are the top athletes to ever play for the Spartans.

By ROD GIPSON

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 6, 2002


Freddie Soloman and Tino Martinez are the top athletes to ever play for the Spartans.

TAMPA -- When it comes to recognizing greatness, the University of Tampa has just the place. The UT Hall of Fame exists to honor the school's best athletes and allows their accomplishments to live on.

But on Oct. 17, two of its greatest will move to the head of the class.

As part of its homecoming weekend, the UT Hall of Fame will honor new members and recognize its greatest athletes of the 20th century: Tino Martinez and Freddie Solomon.

The hall of fame committee will use the event to induct 10 new members, honor the 1992 NCAA championship baseball team, recognize two former football coaches and highlight Martinez and Solomon.

Eight former student-athletes will be inducted, but honoring Solomon and Martinez as the best of the best will be the centerpiece of the event.

Solomon, an All-American while at UT, was a record-setting quarterback from 1972-74. He played wide receiver in the NFL with the 49ers and Dolphins before becoming a community outreach specialist with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

Martinez, meanwhile, was a baseball All-American with the Spartans from 1984-88. Martinez also played on the U.S. National Team during the '88 Summer Olympics in Korea before being drafted by the Mariners. Martinez, a first baseman, played for the Yankees before joining the Cardinals this season.

Some of the inductees' highlights include:

Pete Kuharchek: The Spartans' leading tackler and defensive MVP in 1967 and '68. He lives in Orlando and is the head coach for NFL Europe's Rhein Fire.

Dave Tomeo: An offensive lineman, three-year starter and captain of UT's 1972 Tangerine Bowl squad. Tomeo resides in Tampa.

Todd Linder: A former Spartans forward who was twice named NABC National Player of the Year in the mid 80s. He still holds the NCAA Division II record for field-goal percentage (.708).

Nate Johnston: A UT forward from 1984-88 who earned All-America honors and holds school rebounding and shot blocking records. He was drafted by the NBA's Trail Blazers and played professionally in Europe.

Jeff Leonard: A standout golfer and two-time NCAA individual champion who led UT to Division II team championships in 1987 and '88.

Terry Rupp: A two-sport athlete who was twice named all-conference in basketball and baseball. He later coached UT's baseball team to the 1988 NCAA Division II national championship and earned National Coach of the Year honors. Now the baseball coach at the University of Maryland.

Sam Militello: A three-time All-American who capped his UT career by earning the 1990 Division II National Pitcher of the Year award. Militello pitched in the major leagues for the Yankees and is UT's pitching coach.

Kim Dix: A dominant volleyball and basketball player from 1989-92 who was twice named All-American. She is a teacher and coach in Seffner.

Lelo Prado: A former Spartans baseball player who returned to his alma mater as coach and led UT for seven seasons, winning national championships in 1992 and '93. He was twice named National Coach of the Year and is the head coach at Louisville and of the U.S. National Team.

Chris Catanach: Has been the volleyball coach at UT since 1984 and ranks in the top five nationally in winning percentage among active coaches. His teams have won 12 Sunshine State Conference titles and he has been voted SSC Coach of the Year 11 times.

The hall of fame, established in 1962, will be celebrating its 40th anniversary.

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