Brees, Cormier and Augustus Headline Louisiana HOF 2024 Class
NATCHITOCHES (via LASHOF)– 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. During his coaching career and since, Ellis has made local, statewide and national impact not only in his sports field but also in other endeavors.
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.
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 complete 12-person Class of 2024 will swell the overall membership in the Hall of Fame to 492 men and women – athletes, coaches, administrators and sports media members — honored since its founding in 1958.
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.
Brees once held NFL passing records for yards (80,358), TDs (571), completions (7,142) and attempts (10,551) – all marks that have been surpassed by Tom Brady, who played in 48 more games than Brees. He was the most accurate single-season passer in league history, completing 67.7 percent of his attempts before being surpassed last season by Joe Burrow (68.2 percent). In 2012, Brees threw a touchdown pass in his 48th straight game, breaking the mark of 47 set 52 years earlier by the great Johnny Unitas. The streak reached 54 games before being snapped.
Arguably the greatest women’s basketball player in state history, Augustus played point guard/forward while starring at high school, college and professional levels. The Baton Rouge native was part of three gold medal-winning USA Olympic teams and four WNBA title teams.
Foreshadowing her incredible career, Augustus was on the cover of Sports Illustrated for Women as a high school freshman. LSU unveiled a statue in her honor in January 2023. 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.
Augustus was the WNBA’s No. 1 draft pick in 2006 by the Minnesota Lynx and was its Rookie of the Year in 2006. She won WNBA titles with the Lynx in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017. The 2011 finals MVP, she made the WNBA’s 20th anniversary and 25th anniversary teams. Augustus scored 6,005 career points (tied for 13th in WNBA history), averaging 15.9 points a game for the Lynx and 15.4 overall.
Overseas, Augustus was the Euro Cup MVP in 2009 and led her teams to Euro Cup titles in 2008 and 2009. A member of the U.S. Olympic gold medal-winning teams in 2008, 2012 and 2016, she was inducted into the National High School Sports Hall of Fame (2019).
Cormier is revered as one of the most heralded wrestlers and mixed martial artists ever. He first made a name for himself as a wrestler at Lafayette’s Northside High where he was 101-9 overall, captured three consecutive LHSAA Division I state titles (1995-97) and twice was voted Most Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament. He won a bronze medal in the World Championships in Greco-Roman Wrestling Cadet (15-16 years old) division.
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 competed internationally, capturing the gold medal in 2002 and 2003 at the Pan American Championships, as well as the gold medal at the Pan Am Games in 2003. Cormier was also a member of the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team in the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games.
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 10th in heavyweight, compiling a 22-3 record with one no-contest. Cormier is a member of the UFC Hall of Fame (2022) and currently is a combat sports analyst with ESPN and is a commentator for UFC events.
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.
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.
The 2024 Induction Celebration will be hosted by the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Foundation, the support organization for the Hall of Fame. The LSHOF Foundation was established as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit entity in 1975 and is governed by a statewide board of directors. For information on sponsorship opportunities, contact Foundation President/CEO Ronnie Rantz at 225-802-6040 or RonnieRantz@LaSportsHall.com. Standard and customized sponsorships are available.