Brett McMurphy of ESPN reported on Thursday that former standout linebacker Dick Butkus will be a part of the inaugural University of Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame class. There will be a press conference held on Thursday afternoon to unveil the rest of the class.
Butkus released a statement, via the school, regarding the honor:
“The University of Illinois has played an extremely important role in my life. I have many life-long relationships that began at [Illinois] and have always been proud to call myself a Fighting Illini. To be recognized in the inaugural class of the Athletics Hall of Fame is a terrific feeling. I’m very proud of what my teams and I accomplished, including the 1963 Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl victory. Thank you for this honor.”
The class is set to be honored at a formal dinner in Chicago next summer with the official induction ceremony set to take place next September 29-30 in Champaign. Illinois will host Nebraska that weekend in the opening weekend of Big Ten play.
Butkus was a member of the Illini from 1962 through 1964 and played both linebacker and center. He was a unanimous All-American in 1963 and 1964 and he was named to the Walter Camp All-Century Team back in 1990. He and Red Grange are the only two football players in the school’s history to have their numbers retired. The Dick Butkus Award was created in 1985 and is given to the best linebacker in America at the high school, college and professional levels.
Butkus would go on to enjoy a Hall of Fame NFL career with the Chicago Bears from 1965 until 1973.