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Dick Butkus is an inaugural member of the Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame

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The Illini icon will be officially inducted in February of 2017.

Dick Butkus is back in Champaign for Homecoming weekend! But that’s not nearly the most important piece of news that broke on Thursday morning. The University of Illinois has announced the creation of an Athletics Hall of Fame, and the legendary linebacker was revealed as the first member of the inaugural class, which will be inducted in February of 2017.

Statement from Josh Whitman:

"The University of Illinois has an incredible and storied history in athletics. Legendary names in sports history are found throughout the Illini record books, and we are excited to honor them in our new Hall of Fame. Since the athletic program's inception in 1890, some of the world's greatest athletes have competed in the Orange and Blue. Ultimately, as we begin to populate the Hall of Fame, our collection of recognized greats will compare favorably with that of any institution in the nation."

Statement from Dick Butkus:

"The University of Illinois has played an extremely important role in my life. I have many life-long relationships that began at the U of I and have always been proud to call myself a Fighting Illini. To be recognized in the inaugural class of the Athletics Hall of Fame is a terrific feeling. I'm very proud of what my teams and I accomplished, including the 1963 Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl victory. Thank you for this honor."

According to the release, at least five years must have passed following the completion of a student-athetle’s Illinois career in order to be eligible for the Hall of Fame. Moreover, participants that meet any of the following criteria are automatically nominated for consideration: earning All-America status (by NCAA recognized selectors); winning an individual, national, or Big Ten championship; repeating as a first- or second-team All-Big Ten honoree; receiving a national award or trophy; holding, at any time, an American or world record (as recognized by proper governing body); member of a professional or collegiate sports hall of fame; qualifying as a U.S. Olympic team member; or earning an Olympic medal for any participating country.