North Texas Daily

The stories of the six UNT Hall of Fame inductees

The stories of the six UNT Hall of Fame inductees

April 11
02:21 2014

Ehsan Azad and Akshay Mirchandani // Staff Writers, and Eric Siner // Intern Writer

This Saturday before the annual spring football game, the Mean Green athletic department will honor six members of the Mean Green community into the North Texas Hall of Fame.

Four football players will be inducted — a player from the 40s, a head coach from the 80s and two teammates from the 2000s. In addition, the Mean Green will recognize an award-winning soccer player and a long-time donor to the athletics program.

Jim Cooper

In 1946, center and linebacker Jim Cooper transferred to the university then known as North Texas State University. He helped establish some of the early winning traditions for the Mean Green, including  two bowl teams in 1946 and 1947. He was voted to the all-conference team twice.

Cooper was the first player in UNT history to be drafted by the NFL when the Philadelphia Eagles picked him up in 1948. He instead decided to play for a year for the Brooklyn Dodgers, a football team in the now-defunct All-American Football Conference. Cooper went on to become a coach and a teacher in Texas and Alaska.

Cooper went on to become a coach and a teacher in Texas and Alaska, and he died on November 1, 2010. He is the first person to be inducted into the Mean Green Hall of Fame posthumously.

Heather Hutyra

Playing from 2004 to 2007, former Mean Green soccer forward Heather Hutyra will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday for the contributions to the program.

“My first thought was the excitement of being inducted and being inducted with some of the great players to come out of the North Texas program,” Hutyra said.

Head soccer coach John Hedlund, who has spent 19 years at UNT, called her and let her know about the news.

Her accomplishments started from the very start, winning the Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year and leading the program to its first NCAA Tournament appearance – her favorite memory.

“It has to be the year we won the conference championship and went to the NCAA tournament my freshman year,” Hutyra said. “What a great experience it was to go to the tournament for the first time in school history and then do it again the following year.”

She went on to win SBC Player of the Year and was selected to the regional team twice, leaving UNT tied for second with 51 goals.

Since graduating, Hutyra is working for the Baylor Health Care Systems in their IT department. She hasn’t left soccer, playing in some local women’s soccer leagues and some pro teams in the Dallas area. 

Scott Hall

Hall played quarterback for the Mean Green from 2000-2004, throwing for 5823 yards and 50 touchdowns while winning 24 games. UNT also won three Sun Belt Conference championships and appeared in three bowl games under his leadership.

“He was a guy that was a leader by example, played the game hard and expected everybody else play hard,” athletic director Rick Villarreal said. “He was a guy who ignited our offense and he was well respected by his teammates, and as a quarterback that’s a huge factor.”

Hall found out that he was going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in August when he got a call from Charles “Mean Joe” Greene. He said he was excited the opportunity.

“I knew I had been discussed a few other times the previous years and so it was very welcomed news when Mean Joe Greene called me and gave me the news,” Hall said. “So that was kind of neat too, getting to talk to Mean Joe Greene. One of the legends.”

Hall said that the teams he played on left a legacy of toughness and that he brought strong leadership.

“I feel like my legacy was as a team leader,” Hall said. “I was always the first one there and the last one to leave.”

Cody Spencer

Mean Green linebacker Cody Spencer will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this Saturday. He played with Hall at UNT from 2000-2003, and the pair helped UNT to Sun Belt Conference titles in 2001 and 2003.

“Cody was kind of the anchor of that defense,” Villarreal said. “He was hardnosed, a great young man, worked hard, studied the game hard and showed up every Saturday.”

Spencer had 297 tackles during his career and was named an All-Conference player during his three years as a starter from 2001-2003. He said it is an honor to be inducted and never really expected it.

Spencer and the teams he played with will be remembered for their hard work.

“We loved the game of football and that was our main focus, and I think we turned a new leaf in my era,” Spencer said.

While a lot has changed at UNT since Spencer’s time, he said that he is excited to return to campus this weekend for the induction ceremony.

“To walk into the stadium, to see my picture on the side of the stadium to know that I made the All-Century team and the Hall of Fame, I think of it as a great honor,” Spencer said. “But I think there’s a lot of guys that played during my era that deserve the same award or deserve the same recognition.”

Corky Nelson

Clark “Corky” Nelson  was the man in charge of the Mean Green football team from 1982-1990, leading the team to three postseason appearances and a record of 48-52 during those nine years. He has the third-most wins in program history.

“What went through my mind is very similar to what’s happening to anybody that is inducted,” Nelson said. “It’s a lot of people’s hard work and effort, not just mine obviously, and I think it’s quite an honor.”

Despite his coaching success that included a 1983 Southland Championship, Nelson was quick to mention his team’s off-the-field accomplishments.

“We got our academic stuff up a little bit and became more consistent,” Nelson said. “We hired an academic coordinator as well. Those are probably the two most important things as far as legacy.”

Nelson said simply being a head coach was his most enjoyable experience at UNT.

“That was the first time I had been a head coach at the college level,” he said. “For them to give me the opportunity to do that – I appreciate that.”

Nelson said he had an important role in the history of the program.

“We felt like we stabilized the program a little bit,” Nelson said. “We felt we were moving on the right track and having a group of guys from the players to the coaching standpoint, having all of those guys have success, working together as a team. It was truly an honor being with them as a team.”

Ernie Kuehne

Ernie Kuehne, a 1966 UNT political science graduate, will receive the school’s Fred McCain award, which is awarded to those who contribute to advancing the athletic program.

Kuehne led a committee in increasing support of athletic scholarships and helped raise more than $3 million toward creating a new basketball training facility – which was named in his honor – and a new scoreboard in the Super Pit that was installed last summer. Kuehne also presented a $1 million fund to the UNT in January 2011 from selling one of his top racehorses in efforts to support Apogee Stadium and other needs within the school’s athletic department.

Kuehne was selected by Governor Rick Perry last year to serve on the UNT System Board of Regents.

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