Duerksen, Erhard, Mariani, and McNulty honored
Grizzly soccer's founding coach Betsy Duerksen, All-American distance runner in track and cross-country Dean Erhard, NFL All-Pro Marc Mariani, and Lady Griz Big Sky MVP Jeanne McNulty-King will be inducted at the Grizzly Sports Hall of Fame banquet this fall.
"All four of these individuals had remarkable careers at the University of Montana and left a significant legacy," director of athletics Kent Haslam said.
The Grizzly Sports Hall of Fame was founded in 1993 to pay tribute and give lasting recognition to those student-athletes, coaches, and teams who have made exceptional contributions and brought recognition, honor, and distinction to the University of Montana in the field of Intercollegiate Athletics, and who have continued to demonstrate in their lives the values imparted by their experience. Induction into the Hall of Fame represents the highest athletic honor the university can bestow.
The Hall of Fame induction banquet will be in the Adams Center on the University of Montana campus Oct. 27, with the class of 2023 celebrated on the field during the Grizzlies' football game against Northern Colorado on Oct. 28.
Tickets cost $60 and include a seat at the banquet and plated steak dinner. The 2023 Hall of Fame banquet starts with a no-host cocktail reception at 5:30 p.m., with the event beginning at 6:30.
The Grizzly Sports Hall of Fame presented by Wipfli includes 71 former UM athletes, coaches, and teams. Athletes and coaches become eligible for nomination 10 years after their careers at the University of Montana end.
In 1994 Duerksen was hired to build Montana's fledgling soccer program from the ground up and served as head coach for 10 years until stepping away in 2003.
Since then, the program she founded has gone on to be one of UM's most successful, having advanced to six NCAA tournaments, won eight Big Sky championships, and finished as the league's runner-up four times in the last 26 years.
In her decade as a Grizzly, Duerksen led Montana to a Big Sky title the first season the league sponsored the sport (1997) and went on to win at least a share of the first four championships in conference history.
The Edina, Minnesota, native amassed a 117-69-7 (.624) overall record as the Grizzlies' head coach, going 33-9-2 (.773) in Big Sky play during her tenure in Missoula.
One of the biggest wins in program history came in the 2000 NCAA tournament, a 1-0 victory at Washington State that remains the only outright NCAA tournament victory in Big Sky history.
UM's first female varsity head coach, Duerksen mentored the Grizzlies to success on the field and in the classroom.
She coached six players to seven all-region honors, coached three Big Sky Offensive MVPs, three Big Sky Defensive MVPs, and three Golden Boot Award winners, with 27 first-team All-Big Sky selections.
She also coached four NSCAA Scholar-Athlete All-Americans, one NSCAA Scholar-Athlete of the Year, and two Big Sky Scholar Athletes.
In 1999, she was voted the Big Sky Coach of the Year. As a player, Duerksen was a four-time All-American at Boston College and was named the school's female Athlete of the Decade for the 1980s. BC's male athlete of the 80s was College Football Hall of Fame quarterback Doug Flutie.
Prior to arriving at Montana, she led Seattle University to a national tournament appearance for the first time in program history and was named the NAIA National Coach of the Year. She now lives in San Clemente, California, where she coaches elite-level youth soccer.
"I am surprised and am just very honored and grateful," Duerksen said. "I'm in the Hall of Fame as an athlete at both my high school and Boston College, but being inducted as a coach is different. I feel almost more honored. As a player, God granted me great athleticism, and I'm grateful for that. To be a coach is so hard, and to be inducted into the Hall of Fame as a coach, I'm just surprised and honored."
Erhard, who was born in Havre and partially grew up in Helena and Billings before moving to Illinois for high school, was one of the most successful distance runners in Montana history, at the conference and national level.
Erhard was a three-time All-American for the Grizzlies in the mid-70s, twice in steeplechase and once in cross country, and competed in six NCAA meets, three in each discipline.
As a senior in 1976-77, he won his third consecutive Big Sky Conference steeplechase title as well as the three-mile and was named the Big Sky championship meet's most outstanding athlete.
That year he also set a UM school steeplechase record of 8:40.4, a mark that still stands today and a mark that was the seventh-best in the nation in 1977.
That year he finished fifth in the steeplechase at the NCAA championships, earning All-America honors. He also had an impressive third-place showing at the U.S. Track and Field Federation National Outdoor Championships in Wichita, Kansas, where he ran an 8.41.6 in the steeplechase.
In his senior year in cross country, he was the 16th American to cross the finish line at the NCAA championship to earn All-America honors once again.
He won Big Sky individual titles in cross country as a junior and senior, helping the Grizzlies win back-to-back team conference titles in 1974 and 75.
In 1978 he was awarded the Grizzly Cup, presented to the best overall student-athlete in Grizzly Athletics. The Dean Erhard Athletic Award in Cross Country and Track is a University of Montana scholarship set up in memory of his father.
He retired from the U.S. Forrest Service in 2011 after a 30-year career as an ecologist, 20 of which were spent in Colorado's Rio Grande National Forest. He now lives in Del Norte, Colorado, with his wife, Joyce Housden. The pair have two sons, Grayson (31) and Sumner (28).
Quoting Erhard: "This is such a thrill and an honor, it's hard to put into words. The university did so much for me, and it was a thrill for me to achieve All-American status in cross-country and track so I could bring that honor back to the university.
"It may sound trite, but it's a sincere feeling. I'm just really, really grateful for what the university has done for me. It set me up for the rest of my life in terms of work and having a career, and being able to live as well as I have. It's just great."
Mariani, a former walk-on from Havre turned NFL All-Pro, finished his time at Montana as one of the most successful receivers and return men in school and Big Sky Conference history.
In a stellar Grizzly career, he set records for single-season receiving yards (1,479 in 2009), and career records in receiving yards (3,018), receiving touchdowns (29), yards per punt return (15.01), punt return TDs (3), kick return average (27.57) and all-purpose yards (5,441).
Mariani also tied a school and Big Sky record for the longest punt return in league history at 94 yards and returned a kickoff 98 yards against South Dakota State in 2009 that sparked one of the greatest comebacks in college football history.
He went on to become a two-time All-American pick by The Sports Network, as well as being named an All-American his senior year by the Associated Press and the Walter Camp Foundation.
He was also a two-time first-team All-Big Sky pick, unanimously selected among the league's coaches following his senior season, and was named Big Sky Player of the Week five times in two years.
In 2009 he was the co-recipient of the team's Steve Carlson MVP Award, was a two-time recipient of the Terry Dillon Award for outstanding back or receiver, and was the co-special teams player of the year as a senior.
Mariani was later selected by the Tennessee Titans in the seventh round of the 2010 NFL Draft and went on to a six-year NFL career where he earned a place in the Pro Bowl. He set two Pro Bowl records in 2011 for number of returns and total return yards for a game. Records that still stand today.
Mariani was also a two-time AFC Special Teams Player of the Week and was named to The Sporting News All-Rookie Team and the PFWA All-Rookie Team in 2010. He finished his NFL career with 5,041 return yards and three touchdowns to go along with 27 catches for 324 yards.
Mariani lives in Nashville, where he works in real estate and makes regular radio appearances for the Titans.
Quoting Mariani: "It's honestly a dream come true and one of the greatest honors of my entire life. Growing up as a Havre Blue Pony and dreaming of playing in Grizzly Stadium, going through all those years, and then getting the phone call that I was receiving this honor, it's just really hard for me to even have dreamt that big, and to put into words how crazy of a ride it's been.
"I'm just beyond excited and so honored. I love the University of Montana, and I love the Montana Grizzlies and everything we stand for, and to be recognized as one of the greats is really humbling and an extreme honor for me."
Jeanne McNulty-King was a Big Sky MVP for the Lady Griz following the 1989-90 season and a Kodak All-District 7 honoree and All-America honorable mention in the same year.
The Whitehall, Montana, native was a two-time All-Big Sky selection and a two-time member of the Big Sky all-tournament team in her junior and senior seasons.
As a senior, McNulty led the Lady Griz to a first-round win over Cal State-Fullerton in the NCAA tournament with a team-high 22 points, one of just six tournament wins in program history.
She finished her career third among UM's all-time scorers with 1,320 points and ninth in rebounding with 582 career boards. She still ranks 11th in program history in scoring and holds the school record for field goals made in a single season with 251 in her senior year.
She also held the school record for most points scored in a game with 35 and was named Big Sky Player of the Week four times in her career.
She earned the team's Grace Gill most improved player award after the 1986-87 season and later became a two-time recipient of the Theresa Rhoads Award for the player that best exemplifies Lady Griz basketball.
Following her senior year, she was named a Big Sky scholar-athlete, was a two-time Academic All-Big Sky selection, and a two-time academic all-district selection. After graduating, she went on to play professionally in Australia.
In one season of track, she was the 1989-90 Big Sky javelin champion and the Big Sky heptathlon runner-up.
McNulty-King is now the President and CEO of 2x Inc, a sports agency specializing in representing female athletes and helping players like Montana's McKenzie Johnston and Grizzly Sports Hall of Famer Greta (Koss) Buehler play professionally.
She and her husband, Dave, live in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
Quoting McNulty-King: "It's such an amazing honor to be recognized and included in such an elite group of Grizzly greats. All the credit goes to my parents and brothers, Rob (Selvig) and Annette (Rocheleau), and my amazing teammates. I idolized Cheri (Bratt). Marti (Leibenguth), Lisa (McLeod), Shannon (Cate), and Ann (Lake) were all teammates, and I represented Greta (Koss) and Skyla (Sisco), so now being included in the Griz Hall of Fame with this group brings so many amazing emotions.
"Growing up in small-town Montana, it was truly a dream come true to play for my home state. The Lady Griz family was my second family and continues to be today. To be recognized by the university puts an exclamation point on what was already one of the best experiences of my life. This is truly a recognition of all those before me who paved the way and those who followed, continuing to carry on the Lady Griz legacy!"