Western Carolina has announced the selection of three for induction into its Athletic Hall of Fame.
Football player Harvey Walker (1969-71; 1975-76), baseball’s Paul Menhart (1988-90) and Gerald Austin (1964-69), a two-time WCU graduate and well-known football official, will be inducted Nov. 13 in conjunction with the football game against East Tennessee.
In addition to honoring this year’s class, the ceremony will also include the induction class from 2020: Beth Crisp (women’s basketball and softball, 1977-81), Joe Love (football, 1964-69) and David Rathburn (football, 1971-74).
The ceremony will take place in the Hinds University Center Grand Room.
Walker’s playing career was interrupted by three years of service in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War. Born in Morehead City, where he has served as a commissioner and mayor pro tempore, Walker played defensive back for the Catamounts and is second in program history with 22 interceptions. He holds the season record with nine interceptions, set in 1969, and the career record with four interception returns for touchdowns. He was named All-NAIA District 26 in 1969.
Menhart was a pitcher for WCU and was chosen by the Toronto Blue Jays in the eighth round of the 1990 MLB draft. He pitched for Toronto, Seattle and San Diego in the Majors. Menhart later served as an assistant coach at Western, embarking on a coaching career that landed him a World Series ring as pitching coach for the Washington Nationals in 2019.
He was chosen for the Southern Conference All-Freshman team in 1988 after posting an 8-2 record and a league-leading 3.55 ERA. The following season, he was named Most Valuable Player in the conference tourney as the Cats won the title. He twice led the league in strikeouts and had 19 career wins.
Earning an honorary induction is Austin, who served as an official and worked for 26 years in the National Football League, starting in 1982. He worked 23 playoff games, with three conference championships and three Super Bowls. Austin began officiating high school games while a student at Western. He worked as a football and basketball official in various conferences, including the Atlantic Coast, Metro, Sun Belt, and Southern before getting the call to the NFL.
Since retiring from on-field duty, Austin has served as supervisor of officials for Conference USA and worked with ESPN as a rules expert for Monday Night Football. A native of Asheville, he spent 30 years in public school administration.
To be considered for induction into the Hall of Fame, nominees must be submitted to the Hall of Fame committee, where they are kept on file for five years. Each spring, the committee votes on a list of nominees that are approved by the Hall’s executive committee, which vets those nominated against the criteria put forth by the committee’s constitution. Nomination forms are available at www.catamountsports.com.