Sikma Hall of Fame Invitational to become annual event at Shirk Center | Illinois Wesleyan

Sikma Hall of Fame Invitational to become annual event at Shirk Center | Illinois Wesleyan

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BLOOMINGTON — Illinois Wesleyan announced Monday the creation of the Sikma Hall of Fame Invitational that will feature four games between some of the most storied NCAA Division III basketball programs.

The inaugural Sikma Hall of Fame Invitational will include the Titans, Hope (Mich.), Saint John’s (Minn.) and Wisconsin-Oshkosh on Nov. 12-13 at Shirk Center.

Greg and Coe Gardner, who both graduated from IWU in 1960, will sponsor the four-team event named after Jack Sikma, the former Titan standout who was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019.

“We are incredibly excited to announce the creation of the Sikma Hall of Fame Invitational,” said IWU head coach Ron Rose. “We are very grateful for the generosity of Greg and Coe in making this a reality. Having the ability to host some of the top teams in the country on an annual basis will be a great test for our teams early in the season, as well as an exciting event for basketball fans in the Bloomington-Normal community.”

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After earning his MBA from Bradley, Greg Gardner returned to IWU in 1965 as an accounting professor, where he later had Sikma as a student. He also served as IWU’s Faculty Athletic Representative from 1967-86 for the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin.

“For many years, Coe and I have valued our personal relationships with both Illinois Wesleyan University and Jack Sikma,” Greg Gardner said. “Now, through the Sikma Hall of Fame Invitational, we take great pride in strengthening those relationships even further while supporting current and future Titan student-athletes.”






SIKMA INVITATIONAL PHOTO

Illinois Wesleyan, shown playing Carthage in a 2020 College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin Tournament game at Shirk Center, announced Monday the formation of the annual Sikma Hall of Fame Invitational.




After several years of hosting accounting seniors at their home for an end of year party, Greg and Coe moved to Arizona. The relationship between the Gardners and Sikma extended far past his collegiate days as Greg, Coe and the NBA all-star would often get together for dinner when Sikma’s squad played in Phoenix.

“I am very excited for the inaugural Sikma Hall of Fame Invitational at Illinois Wesleyan University and grateful to both Greg and Coe for their support of this event and shining a light on Division III basketball and small college athletic programs as a whole,” said Sikma. “I hope everyone is as excited as I am to watch some incredibly high-quality basketball in such a great venue at the Shirk Center.”

Sikma, who was a seven-time NBA All-Star and led the Seattle SuperSonics to the 1979 NBA title, is IWU’s all-time leading scorer (2,272 points) and rebounder (1,405). In each of his last three seasons, the Titans won CCIW championships and advanced to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics tournament in Kansas City.

ILLINOIS STATE

New pitching coach named: Illinois State head baseball coach Steve Holm announced the addition of R.D. Spiehs as an assistant coach primarily serving as the team’s pitching coach.

Spiehs, who was the pitching coach at Arkansas Little-Rock for three seasons most recently, pitched for seven years professionally in the San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners organizations before returning to Nebraska, his alma mater, in 2008 to begin his coaching career.

“R.D. is a guy who I have known for 20 years. We were in the same draft class with the Giants back in 2001. We crossed paths again when we were both pitching coaches in the WAC — I was at Sacramento State and he was at Northern Colorado,” said Holm. “I saw their pitching getting better immediately upon R.D.’s arrival.

“Then we played Arkansas Little-Rock early in the 2020 season, and it was evident that their pitchers were also seeing the same improvements. So, when we had an opening, I knew exactly who I wanted to hire.”

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