Maryland inducted a new class in its Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday night and among them was college basketball star Len Bias.
The two-time ACC Player of the Year was inducted with his parents and two of his siblings present in his honor. Seven other athletes were also inducted into Maryland’s Athletics Hall of Fame, but Bias received a standing ovation when announced according to Matt Zenitz of the Baltimore Sun:
For most who were announced, the 400 people gathered at tables in the Heise Room at the Samuel Riggs Alumni Center would give a standard applause as the inductee was led from the back corner of the room to the front and eventually to their seat.
But when Hernandez introduced Len Bias, the 400 rose from their seats and clapped for an extended period as members of Bias’ family — his parents and two of his siblings — was led to the front of the room.
Others in attendance for the Hall of Fame ceremony included Bias’ teammates like Keith Gatlin, Tony Massenburg and Jeff Baxter and former Maryland head coach Gary Williams and current coach Mark Turgeon.
The 6-foot-8 Bias left Maryland in 1986 and was selected as the No. 2 overall pick in the 1986 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics before dying two days later from cardiac arrhythmia induced by a cocaine overdose.
Some viewed the Bias admission into the Maryland Athletics Hall of Fame as long overdue, but there were still some that wondered if the circumstances surrounding the death of Bias would stain his legacy. Most of those concerns have since passed.
Based on the reaction from the room last night, people seem to remember Bias more for his special ability playing basketball and as one of the best athletes to never play professional sports.
In four seasons at the University of Maryland (1982-86), Len Bias made the transition from being a raw but athletic talent upon his arrival on campus to being one of the greatest players in ACC history. Bias won two ACC Player of the Year awards (1985 and 1986), and in 1986 he was a consensus first team All-American.
With the combination of size (6-foot-8) and skill he was seen as a player ready to have an immediate impact in the NBA, with the reigning NBA champion Boston Celtics taking him with the second pick in the 1986 NBA Draft. Sadly we never got to see what Bias would have been able to do alongside the likes of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parrish, and some would argue that the tragic circumstances surrounding his death in 1986 factored into his still not being a member of Maryland’s Athletics Hall of Fame.
That changed on Wednesday, as it was announced by the school that Bias is one of eight former Terrapins who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Friday, October 3. Joining Bias in the 2014 class are Bob Boneillo (men’s lacrosse), Edward G. Cooke (track & field, football), Maureen ‘Bean’ Scott Dupcak (field hockey, women’s lacrosse), Alex Kahoe (women’s lacrosse), Debbie Lytle (women’s basketball), Sandy Worth (athletic trainer) and Charlie Wysocki (football).
“We would like to congratulate our newest inductees and their families on their selection for the Maryland Athletics Hall of Fame,” Maryland AD Kevin Anderson said in the release. “It’s an exciting time for us to honor and recognize the incredible accomplishments of our former student-athletes during their time in College Park.”
During his four seasons at Maryland, Bias racked up 2,147 points (still a school record) and was a member of four NCAA tournament teams. Among Bias’ best individual performances was his 35-point outing in a 77-72 overtime win over North Carolina on February 20, 1986, as the Terrapins handed the Tar Heels their first-ever loss at the Dean Dome.