Some tickets still remain for the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame’s fall gala to honor legendary former University of Arkansas Coach John McDonnell. The event will begin at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15, in the Great Hall of the Clinton Presidential Center at Little Rock. Tickets for the dinner are $200 each, and tables of 10 are $2,000. Checks should be made out to the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and mailed to Ray Tucker, Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, 3 Verizon Arena Way, North Little Rock, Ark. 72114. Those desiring more information on the event should call Catherine Johnson at (501) 821-1021 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. McDonnell’s teams at Arkansas won 11 NCAA cross country national championships, 19 NCAA indoor track and field championships and 12 NCAA outdoor track and field championships. He coached 179 All-Americans and 23 Olympians during his career. Tucker called McDonnell “one of the great names in the history of track. We’re delighted to be able to honor him in this way.” In addition to McDonnell, the following people will speak at the event:
- Little Rock business executive Frank O’Mara, who like McDonnell is a native of Ireland. O’Mara will serve as the master of ceremonies. O’Mara is the chief executive officer of Allied Wireless Communications of Little Rock. He competed for McDonnell at Arkansas, winning an NCAA outdoor championship in the 1,500-meter run. O’Mara, who was world indoor champion twice in the 3,000-meter run, competed for Ireland in the 1984 Olympics at Los Angeles, the 1988 Olympics at Seoul and the 1992 Olympics at Barcelona.
- Noted Arkansas business executive John Tyson of Tyson Foods Inc. at Springdale. Tyson is a member of the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees and a longtime McDonnell friend.
- Mike Conley Sr., an Olympic gold medalist who won 16 NCAA long jump and triple jump championships while competing for McDonnell at Arkansas.
- Alberto Salazar, now a Nike executive. Salazar, a native of Cuba, is a distance running legend who won three consecutive New York Marathons from 1980-82.
- Vin Lananna, another legendary track coach. Lananna headed the track and field program at Stanford from 1992-2003 and then went to the University of Oregon in 2005.
This is the fourth consecutive year for the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame to hold a fall salute. Past honorees are Conway business executive Stephen L. Strange Sr., former Razorback basketball star Joe Kleine and former Razorback football star Jim Lindsey. The Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame inducted its first class in 1959. Little Rock insurance executive Andrew Meadoers is the organization’s president. The Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame Museum is on the west side of Verizon Arena in North Little Rock and is open Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. It includes an 88-seat theater with a video highlighting the careers of Arkansas sports greats and a touch-screen kiosk with a database of all Hall of Fame inductees. Members of the Hall of Fame vote each year on inductees. Membership dues are $50 annually. Membership forms may be obtained here.