NATCHITOCHES – NFL record-setting passer and Super Bowl XLIV MVP Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints joins LSU women’s basketball great and eight-time WNBA All-Star Seimone Augustus along with mixed martial arts icon Daniel Cormier of Lafayette in a star-studded nine-member group of 2024 “competitors” ballot inductees chosen for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.
The LSHOF Class of 2024 also includes 1992 Olympic wrestling gold medalist Kevin Jackson, a former LSU All-American, along with Perry Clark, who guided Tulane basketball to unprecedented success in the 1990s, and McNeese football great Kerry Joseph.
Also elected for induction next year are high school football coach Frank Monica, who won state titles at three different south Louisiana schools, and Ray Sibille, a Breeders’ Cup-winning thoroughbred jockey from Sunset who ranks among the nation’s elite as a rider.
The class also includes retired Grambling baseball coach Wilbert Ellis, the second-ever recipient of the Louisiana Sports Ambassador Award.
The LSHOF’s Class of 2024 will be enshrined at the Hall of Fame’s home in Natchitoches to culminate the 65th Induction Celebration. The dates for the three-day celebration will be announced soon.
Brees overcame questions about his height and arm strength and a devastating shoulder injury to become the league’s all-time leader in several passing categories. A 13-time Pro Bowl pick in a 20-year career, Brees shattered nearly every passing mark for the Saints after joining forces with Sean Payton in March 2006 following five seasons in San Diego.
Together, they made the Saints’ offense one of the league’s most productive over a 15-year period until Brees’ retirement in March 2021. The Saints finished in the top five in points scored 10 times, leading the league in 2008 and 2009, and finished top five in total offense 11 times – taking the top spot six times (2006, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2014, 2016) – en route to seven NFC South titles and nine playoff appearances.
Augustus was part of three gold medal-winning USA Olympic teams and four WNBA title teams. Augustus led Baton Rouge’s Capitol High to a 138-7 record, with Class 4A titles in 2001 and 2002 and a finals appearance in 1999. She scored 3,600 points, had 1,728 rebounds and 869 assists, becoming a four-time Class 4A MVP and the LSWA’s Miss Basketball in 2001 and 2002. She played in the first McDonald’s Girls All-America game, finishing with 16 points and 12 rebounds. At LSU, Augustus scored 2,702 career points, averaging 19.3 points. 5.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists over four seasons while leading the Tigers to a 114-17 record and three Final Fours. Augustus was the USBWA National Freshman of the Year in 2003 and swept National Player of the Year awards (Wade, Naismith, Wooden and Honda) in 2005 and 2006.
Cormier went 101-9 overall as a wrestler at Northside High, captured three consecutive LHSAA Division I state titles (1995-97) and twice was voted Most Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament. An all-state football player in high school, he concentrated on wrestling at Colby (Kansas) Community College and posted a 61-0 record, then earned All-America honors in 2001 at Oklahoma State where he went 53-10. He then competed in freestyle wrestling, winning six consecutive gold medals (2003-08) at the USA Wrestling championships. He transitioned to mixed martial arts and began his career in Strikeforce. He won his first 11 bouts, becoming the King of the Cage heavyweight champion and winning the 2012 Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix before joining UFC. He became just the second UFC fighter to hold two divisional titles (light heavyweight and heavyweight) simultaneously and was the first fighter to have title defenses in two divisions. Cormier ranks third all-time in light heavyweight wins and is tied for 10 th in heavyweight, compiling a 22-3 record with one no-contest.
Cormier and Jackson are the first amateur wrestlers elected for LSHOF induction. Ironically, Jackson coached Cormier for Team USA in the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games.
An LSU star from 1984-86, Jackson, wrestling in the 82kg (181-pound) freestyle class, became only the second Black wrestler globally to win an Olympic gold medal when he beat Elmadi Zhabrailov of the Unified Team in the 1992 Barcelona Games. Jackson also won swept the gold medals in the 82kg division at the 1991 and ’95 World Championships and Pan Am Games — giving him five major wins in a five-year period. He’s one of only six U.S. men’s freestyle wrestlers to claim at least three career world-level (Olympics/World Championships) titles.
As Tulane’s basketball coach from 1989-2000, Clark led the program back from a self-imposed shutdown to three NCAA Tournament appearances in a four-year span — the only three NCAA program’s history. In 11 seasons at Tulane, Clark compiled a 185-145 (.561) record, had six 20-win seasons, seven postseason appearances (including four NIT berths) and his Green Wave won the 1992 Metro Conference championship (the only conference title in program history).
Joseph, a New Iberia native, is considered the top quarterback in McNeese State history, leading the Cowboys to a 43-10 record and a pair of Southland Conference titles. Joseph helped the Cowboys to their first-ever playoff win (1992) and first Division I-AA national semifinal appearance (1995). He threw for 7,874 yards with 67 TDs and had 9,674 yards of total offense. He was named the SLC Player of the Year and Louisiana Player of the Year in 1995 after leading the Cowboys to a 13-1 overall record and No. 1 national ranking. In a 19-year pro career, he played as a slotback for the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals and Washington Redskins before winning a World Bowl championship with the NFL Europe’s Rhein Fire in 1998. He later played safety for the Seattle Seahawks before getting a chance to play quarterback as a pro with Ottawa of the Canadian Football League in 2003. Joseph became just one of three CFL players to exceed 4,000 yards passing (4,466) and 1,000 yards rushing (1,006) in a single season in 2005. He went on to be named a CFL all-star and was the Most Outstanding Player when he helped the Saskatchewan Roughriders win the Grey Cup in 2007. Joseph was inducted into the McNeese Sports Hall of Fame in 2006 and the Roughriders Hall of Honour in 2019.
Monica spent a half-century coaching football and baseball in Louisiana before announcing his retirement in January 2021 following 30 seasons as a head high school football coach at Lutcher, Riverside Academy, Jesuit and St. Charles Catholic, where the field is named for him. Monica compiled a football record of 284-91 with state titles at Lutcher (1978), Riverside (1983) and St. Charles (2011). Inducted into the Louisiana High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2019 after a 24-year stint at St. Charles, Monica guided the Comets to 12 state semifinals appearances and six state finals berths. He also spent 12 seasons over two stints as an assistant coach at Tulane. He was the baseball team captain and starting third baseman for the 1970 Nicholls State squad that reached the Division II College World
Series championship game.
Sibille retired from racing in 2004 after a 35-year career that saw him record 4,264 wins, the first of which came at Evangeline Downs in July 1969 after honing his craft on the Louisiana bush tracks. He is one of an impressive 15 state jockeys – most from the Acadiana region — who rank among the sport’s 80 all-time who have at least 4,000 career wins. His mounts won $68,880,807.
Ellis, a 2006 American Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame inductee, is nationally regarded as one of the country’s finest representatives of college baseball, and beloved by Grambling alumni for his expansive yet now unofficial role at the university. Ellis spent 30 seasons as the Tigers’ head coach and a grand total of 43, including as assistant coach, for the Grambling baseball program. He retired in 2003 after posting a 743-463-1 record with three Southwestern Athletic Conference titles, five SWAC Western Division crowns and three NCAA Tournament appearances. Ellis was Grambling’s second baseball coach after serving as an assistant to program founder Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones.
A 40-member Louisiana Sports Writers Association committee selected the 2024 inductees. The panel considered 149 nominees from 28 different sport categories on a 35-page “competitors” ballot. Also spotlighted next year will be three other Hall of Fame inductees, a winner of the Dave Dixon Louisiana Sports Leadership Award and two recipients of the 2024 Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism presented by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association, the parent organization of the Hall of Fame. Those inductees will be announced later this year.
The 2024 Induction Celebration will kick off with a press conference and reception. The three-day festivities include two receptions, a free youth sports clinic, a bowling party, and a riverbank concert in Natchitoches. Tickets for the Induction Ceremony, along with congratulatory advertising and sponsorship opportunities, will be available through the LaSportsHall.com website once the induction celebration dates are announced.
Anyone can receive quarterly e-mails about the 2024 Induction Celebration and other Hall of Fame news by signing up on the LaSportsHall.com website. For updates on the 2024 Induction Celebration, use this link: lasportshall.com/InductionInfo.