Current students might find this hard to believe, but Miami University actually has a rich, storied athletic history.
Our school has produced a dozen legendary football coaches. World champion synchronized skating teams. World Series winning baseball players. Championship winning athletes in all of the big four sports. Gold medal olympians. Through over 100 years of intercollegiate athletics, Miami has seen some incredible moments and some incredible athletes. Here are the top five (in my opinion at least):
Note: This list mostly only considers accomplishments during an athlete’s time at Miami.
1. Patricia “Tish” Bucher, Swimming and Diving, class of 1984
Tish Bucher is the only woman Mid-American Conference (MAC) swimmer to ever win MAC Most Outstanding Swimmer in four consecutive years (1981-1984). She won 17 individual MAC championships during her career at Miami and added another four with relays. At one MAC championship meet, she won five MAC titles, which is still the conference record for most in one championship meet.
2. Travis Prentice, Football, class of 1999
By the end of Prentice’s career at Miami, he owned 35 career and single season school records. He was and is first in school history in rushing yards (5,596), points (468), and touchdowns (78). His rushing yard total still ranks sixth in NCAA history. When his Miami career came to an end, he held the NCAA record for rushing touchdowns with 73, but Montee Ball broke that record with Wisconsin in 2012. Prentice is still second all-time. He scored a touchdown in 35 games during his career and two touchdowns in 25 games. He had over 1500 rushing yards in three consecutive seasons. He was the first NCAA athlete ever to complete those feats.
3. Sue Brozovich, Tennis, class of 1988
Brozovich remains the only woman in MAC history to win four straight singles crowns for the conference (1985-1988). Miami tennis also won the MAC championship in each of Brozovich’s four seasons at Miami.
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4. Ron Harper, Basketball, class of 1986
It’s tough to figure out where to start listing Ron Harper’s accomplishments at Miami, but I’ll give it a shot: Harper won All-MAC honors in his sophomore, junior and senior seasons. He was MAC player of the year in each of his last two seasons. He was an All-American his senior season. Miami made the NCAA tournament in three of his four seasons.
He averaged over 24 points twice and holds a career average of 19.8 points per game, which is first in Miami history. He did that with a career field goal percentage of 53.4%. He’s Miami’s all time leading scorer and rebounder with 2,377 points and 1,119 rebounds. His 173 blocked shots is still first in Miami history. Harper went on to get selected ninth overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1986 NBA draft. He won five NBA championships after that, three in a row from 1996-1998 with Michael Jordan’s Bulls, then back to back in 2000 and 2001 with Kobe and Shaq’s Los Angeles Lakers.
5. Karen Bakewell, Track and Field, Class of 1987
When Karen Bakewell won the NCAA national championship in the 800 meter run in 1986, she set an NCAA for the event, finishing at 2:00.85. She is still one of only 15 women ever to finish the 800 meter dash in less than 2:01.00. The year before Bakewell was the MAC champion in the 400 meter dash. She won the national championship in June, but she’d only been running the event competitively since March.
All five of those athletes did incredible things during their time at Miami. It was really hard to cut this list down to only five, so here’s some honorable mentions:
Wayne Embry, Basketball, Class of 1958: Embry won First Team All-MAC honors twice in his Miami basketball career, and he still holds the school career record in rebounding average with 15.5. He went on to become the first black general manager and team president in NBA history. He won NBA executive of the year twice as the general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1992 and 1998.
Bob Schul, Track and Field, Class of 1968: Schul won the gold medal in the 5000 meter race at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, while a student at Miami University. Enough said.
Kristy Burch, Softball, Class of 1990: Burch still holds the Miami career ERA record with a stingy 1.00. She won All-MAC honors twice during her career and finished her senior season with a record of 25-9 and a 0.74 ERA.
Buddy Schultz, Baseball, Class of 1973: Schultz set one of the craziest records I’ve ever seen, one that still stands today, back in 1971 when he struck out 26 Wright State batters in a nine inning game. For context, there’s 27 outs in a game. His record will never be broken (and if it is I’ll eat crow, or do literally anything else. Because it will never be broken). Schultz finished his career with a 1.77 career ERA and won All-MAC honors twice.
Andy Miele, Hockey, Class of 2011: The only Miami athlete to ever win national player of the year honors, Miele won the 2011 Hobey Baker award and helped lead Miami to its only national championship appearance in any sport in 2009, when the RedHawks lost a heartbreaker to Boston University. The Terriers scored two goals in the final minute of the 2009 National Championship to force overtime vs Miami before winning 4-3.
Note: A previous version of this story said that Ron Harper was drafted by the Chicago Bulls. He was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers.