Class of their own: LSU selects five distinguished recipients into school’s Athletics Hall of Fame

Former LSU radio play-by-play announcer Jim Hawthorne. PHOTO BY: LSU athletics

Five individuals who made lasting impacts upon the esteemed tradition of LSU Athletics have been elected for induction into the Hall of Fame.

The 2023 induction class was chosen by the LSU Athletics Hall of Fame Election Board, and it includes legendary women’s golf coach Karen Bahnsen; 17-time track and field All-American and football wide received Al Coffee; three-time women’s tennis All-American and SEC Player of the Year Megan Falcon; NCAA discus and shot put champion Danyel Mitchell; and volleyball All-American Nyla Shepherd Moore.

In addition, Jim Hawthorne, the “Voice of the Tigers” for over 30 years, and Dr. Sam Nader, who worked as LSU Football’s recruiting director and director of operations during a brilliant 46-year career, will be recognized with a Distinguished Honor by the Hall of Fame.

“This is an extraordinary class of Tiger greats who helped establish the LSU tradition of excellence,” LSU Director of Athletics Scott Woodward said. “I look forward to officially welcoming the class of 2023 into the LSU Athletics Hall of Fame and celebrating their contributions to our department and our university.”

Nominees are required to have earned a college degree in order to be considered by the LSU Athletics Hall of Fame Election Committee. The induction ceremony is scheduled to be held this fall at a time and venue to be announced.

Bahnsen was elected in the Coach/Administrator category; Coffee, Falcon, Mitchell and Moore were elected in the Student-Athlete category; and Hawthorne and Nader were selected to receive a Distinguished Honor.

The Distinguished Honor category was established this year, and it recognizes those individuals who contributed to the advancement and growth of a sport at LSU, or laid a path or expanded opportunities for LSU student-athletes.

Bahnsen, a native of Mobile, Ala., was the first recruit of the fledging LSU women’s golf program for the 1979-80 season and upon her graduation in 1984, she was named the Tigers’ head coach, a position she held for 34 years. She is the second-longest tenured head coach in LSU history.

Her LSU teams finished in the Top 10 of the NCAA Championships on seven occasions, including impressive third-place national finishes in 2011 and 2012. She coached the NCAA individual champion in 2011, as freshman Austin Ernst posted a six-under 66 to win the title. Bahnsen developed numerous All-Americans during her career, including two members of the LSU Athletics Hall of Fame – Jenny Lidback and Meredith Duncan.

Bahnsen was inducted into the Women’s Golf Coaches Hall of Fame in 2009, and she is a 2023 inductee into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. She remains heavily involved in community golf events, including the annual President’s Cup and the local Folds of Honor event, both held at the University Club in Baton Rouge.

Coffee, a Baton Rouge native, was ranked in the Track & Field News World Top 20 on 12 occasions from 1969-72 in the 100-yard dash, the 220-yard dash, the 440-yard dash, the 440-yard relay, the 880-yard relay and the mile relay. He earned All-America recognition a total of 17 times from Track & Field News, the NCAA, and the U.S. Track & Field Federation.

A three-year captain of the LSU track & field squad, Coffee led the Tigers to mile relay national championships in 1969 and 1972. He was voted the SEC’s Most Outstanding Performer in 1970, and he was a seven-time SEC champion. Coffee also played wide receiver for the LSU football team, and he helped lead the Tigers to the 1970 SEC Championship and two Orange Bowl appearances.

Coffee served in the Louisiana National Guard for six years, and he has worked as a Baton Rouge Food Bank volunteer for over five decades. He volunteered with the Louisiana State Police to help rescue individuals trapped in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and in 2022, he was the keynote speaker at the Diversity and Race youth symposium at Caneview School in Port Allen, La.

Falcon, a product of Alameda, Calif., was a three-time singles All-American at LSU from 2007-09. She was an NCAA Tournament singles semifinalist in 2007, and she achieved Intercollegiate Tennis Association national rankings of No. 1 in singles and No. 10 in doubles.

The 2007 SEC Player of the Year, Falcon was a three-time All-SEC selection, and she was named Louisiana Player of the Year on three occasions. She played in the Pan American Games for Team USA, and she was a finalist for the Honda Award, given annually to the nation’s most outstanding female collegiate athlete.

Falcon, a 2009 LSU graduate in history and international studies, works as the women’s tennis associate head coach at Auburn, and she was named in 2022 the ITA Southwest Regional Assistant Coach of the Year.

Mitchell, product of Vallejo, Calif., won NCAA titles in the women’s discus in 1993 and 1994, and she captured the national title in the indoor shot put in 1993. She represented the United States at the 1995 Outdoor World Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden, and at the Collegiate World University Games in Fukuoka, Japan.

She was a nine-time SEC champion, and she owns the sixth-most individual conference titles in LSU track & field history. Mitchell participated in a number of community service projects while studying at LSU, including the Adopt A School program where she read books to local elementary school students.

A 1995 LSU interdisciplinary studies graduate, Mitchell is a member of the A.P. Tureaud Black Alumni Chapter of the LSU Alumni Association, and she is an active member in the Baton Rouge chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, serving the local community and youth affiliates.

Shepherd Moore, a product of Mobile, Ala., led LSU to back-to-back NCAA Volleyball Final Four appearances in 1990 and 1991 and three straight SEC titles in 1989, 1990 and 1991. A 1989 All-American, she holds the LSU record for most career kills with a total of 1,735, a mark that stood for over 30 years.

She was a three-time first-team All-SEC selection, and she earned NCAA and AVCA All-South Region recognition while playing in 149 career matches. She also played for Team USA at the 1989 U.S. Olympic Festival.

Shepherd Moore, a 1993 LSU accounting graduate who also played basketball for the Tigers, started the Women’s Sports Initiative to sponsor girls for club volleyball and AAU basketball; all of the sponsored students went on to earn college athletic scholarships and college degrees.

Hawthorne, a native of Anacoco, La., and a 1967 Northwestern State graduate, was the radio “Voice of the Tigers” for over 35 years as the play-by-play broadcaster for LSU football, men’s basketball and baseball. His dedication to expanding the LSU brand across the state, region and around the world shaped the hearts and minds of many and helped LSU establish its reputation among the elite programs in college athletics

Hawthorne broadcast nearly 400 football games, 1,500 men’s basketball games and 2,000 baseball games during his LSU career, which began in 1979 and concluded in 2016. He broadcast all six of LSU’s baseball national championships, the 2003 and 2007 football national championships and men’s basketball Final Fours in 1981, 1986 and 2006.

Hawthorne was inducted in 2016 into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, and he was a recipient of the Louisiana Sportswriters Association Distinguished Service Award. He also received the 2015 Chris Schenkel Award from the National Football Foundation and the 2011 Lindsey Nelson Award from the Knoxville Quarterback Club.

Nader began his LSU football career in 1975 on the staff of head coach Charles McClendon, and for 46 seasons, he influenced generations of student-athletes, coaches, and staff members in the program while establishing a legacy of service and devotion to the university.

During his years in the football operations and recruiting profession, Nader made a tremendous impact upon the program through his administration of the players’ summer jobs program and with his leadership in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He was also instrumental in the growth of LSU’s Academic Center for Student-Athletes.

A quarterback at Auburn from 1963-67, Nader first joined the LSU staff in 1975 as a graduate assistant. He was elevated to a full-time assistant coach in 1977 and then served as LSU’s recruiting coordinator from 1980-1993.

Nader assumed the role of administrative assistant for football operations in 1994, a position he held until 2000, when he was promoted to assistant athletic director. At LSU, he was a part of three football national championships, seven Southeastern Conference titles and 32 bowl games.

2023 LSU Athletics Hall of Fame Class
Coach/Administrator Category
• Karen Bahnsen, women’s golf coach (1984-2018)

Student-Athlete Category
• Al Coffee, men’s track and field (1969-72)/football (1970-73)
• Megan Falcon, women’s tennis (2007-09)
• Danyel Mitchell, women’s track and field (1991-94)
• Nyla Shepherd Moore, volleyball/women’s basketball (1988-91)

Distinguished Honor Category
• Jim Hawthorne, radio broadcaster (1979-2016)
• Dr. Sam Nader, football (1975-2021)

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