This year’s inductees are former football All-American Roland Autrey, 1950s football stalwart M. L. Mann, track and cross country All-American Jeff Pope, softball All-American Jodie Scott, and track All-American Milton Williams.
Williams is currently the head coach for both the men’s and women’s track and cross country teams at UALR. He has been named Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year three times for the men (2007, ’10, and ’12) and once for the women (2005) and led the men’s cross country team to the 2012 Sun Belt championship.
At UAM, Williams excelled in the shot put and discus, earning All-Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference and NAIA Indoor All-America honors in the shot. After graduating from UAM in 1982, Williams finished 14th in the 1984 Olympic trials and set records for an Arkansas native in both the discus (201 feet, 9 inches) and shot (65 feet, 4 inches).
Williams earned a master’s degree from Northeast Louisiana University (now Louisiana-Monroe) in 1984 and spent four years as head strength and conditioning coach at Louisiana State University before returning to Arkansas as head track and cross country coach at Cabot High School. Williams joined the UALR coaching staff in 2001 as associate head coach in cross country and track.
Williams’ most recent honor was being inducted into the Arkansas Track & Field Hall of Fame in June.
Pope was one of the state’s best distance runners in the 1980s. Pope earned NAIA All-America honors in 1986 in both the 10,000 meters and the marathon. He was a three-time All-AIC selection in cross country and earned all-conference honors in track at both 5,000 and 10,000 meters.
Pope was a four-time AIC champion in individual events and a 1988 UAM graduate. He is currently an award-winning teacher at Fort Morgan High School in Colorado.
Scott won multiple honors on the field and in the classroom as a star outfielder on the UAM softball team from 2003-06.
Scott was named a second team All-American by the National Fast-pitch Coaches Association in 2003, the 2003 Gulf South Conference West Division Freshman of the Year, first team All-South Region, also in 2003, and second team All-South Region in 2004.
She was a four-time first team All-Gulf South Conference selection and was named to the GSC All-Decade Team for 2001-10. Scott was also named to the NFCA and GSC All-Academic Teams in 2005.
Autrey was an undersized noseguard who became a three-year starter for UAM teams that went 19-9 from 1985 to 1987. Autrey was almost unblockable in 1986 when he became the schools’ first underclassman to earn first team NAIA All-America honors for a Boll Weevil team that posted a 6-3 record and finished second in the AIC.
Autry was the Arkansas Democrat’s AIC Defensive Player of the Year in 1986 and a first team All-AIC selection. He made 13 tackles despite being double-teamed in a 1986 homecoming win over Harding and ended the season with 56 solo tackles, 38 assists, three sacks, and nine tackles for loss.
Mann was recruited by John Barnhill to play football for the University of Arkansas in 1949 and played for the Razorbacks as a sophomore defensive end in 1950 before being drafted. As part of the 101st Airborne, Mann parachuted into Korea in 1952 and later received a battlefield commission of second lieutenant from General Matthew Ridgway. For gallantry under fire, Mann received the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart, and Distinguished Service Cross.
After his discharge in 1954, he enrolled at what was then Arkansas A&M College and lettered two years for Boll Weevil teams that won the first of four consecutive AIC championships. Mann was a two-year starter at tackle in the one-platoon era when players played both ways, earning first team All-AIC honors in 1955 while leading the Weevils to a 7-2 record and the league title.
Robert Leonard, long-time director of the Missionary Baptist Student Fellowship, will receive the UAM Spirit Award.
Leonard has served as the campus minister for the Missionary Baptist Student Fellowship since 1983 and for the last two years has been a member of the UAM coaching staff as head coach of the men’s and women’s cross country teams. Leonard has served as a chaplain for the football team and was a volunteer assistant football coach for Tommy Barnes.