ROCK HILL, S.C. (TheSAC.com) – The South Atlantic Conference will induct six members into the 2019 Hall of Fame Class, the League announced today. Receiving honors will be Mars Hill alum Craig Eckstein, Catawba alumna Danyel Locklear Jolicoeur, Wingate alum David Jones, Lenoir-Rhyne alumna Meredith O'Connor and former Mars Hill University men's basketball coach and athletic director David Riggins. The SAC will also honor the recipient of the Conference's Distinguished Alumni Award, which will be awarded to Newbery alum John "Mark" Hammond. The honorees will be formally inducted into the South Atlantic Conference Hall of Fame at the Hall of Fame Banquet in Greenville, S.C. on May 30, 2019.
"We are honored to have this impressive group of individuals join our Hall of Fame," said SAC commissioner Patrick Britz. "It is a pleasure to honor them for all of their accomplishments. They are all shining examples of the outstanding tradition of academic and athletic excellence in the South Atlantic Conference."
Eckstein was a member of the Mars Hill men's cross country and track and field teams from 2001 to 2004. He was the Southeast Region Cross Country Runner of the Year in 2004, as well as the SAC Runner of the Year in 2003 and 2004. He earned All-Region honors in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004, and was an NCAA championship meet qualifier in each of those seasons. A three-time first team All-SAC runner and the individual champion in 2003 and 2004, Eckstein is No. 3 all-time at Mars Hill with an 8k time of 24:41. Additionally, he led his team to four SAC Men's Cross Country Championships during his time at Mars Hill.
After graduating from Mars Hill, Eckstein became a cross country coach in Ohio where he was named the 2010 Southwest Ohio Conference Cross Country Coach of the Year and 2012 Southwest Ohio Conference Track Coach of the Year at Mount Healthy High School. His efforts with the 2012 Mount Healthy Fighting Owls earned him Cincinnati Coach of the Year honors. A physical education and health teacher at Little Miami Junior High, Eckstein is also the owner of Buckeye Timing. An active member of the community, Eckstein and his family participate in the Adopt-A-Family program each year during Christmas, where they buy gifts for a needy family in the area.
Riggins served as the head men's basketball coach of the Mars Hill Lions from 1986-1999, and was the Lion's assistant athletic director from 1993-99. In 1999 he was named the Mars Hill Athletic Director, serving in that roll until his retirement in 2018. In his 32 years at Mars Hill, Riggins left his mark in many different ways.
Inducted into the Mars Hill Hall of Fame in 2007, Riggins is the Lions' winningest men's basketball coach. He coached 16 all-conference players, two all-region players, two SAC Freshman of the Year honorees, a SAC Player of the Year, a SAC Male Athlete of the Year and an All-American. Three of his former players have been inducted into the SAC Hall of Fame. His 1994 team won the SAC regular season title and he was named SAC Coach of the Year in 1994, as well.
As athletic director, Riggins oversaw several improvements and enhancements to the Lions athletic department, including the installation of new synthetic turf and the W. Scott Merrill Press Box along with refurbished seating for the home grandstand and improved visitor seating at the Ammons Family Athletic Center and Meares Stadium. He oversaw the construction of a new softball facility on Ponder Field as well as the construction of two football practice fields and a new practice facility at Belk Field. In the spring of 2013, the Lions' Baseball Team moved into the new Henderson Field and Mars Hill also added a new 2,100 square foot weight room in Chambers Gym. In the spring of 2019, the Lions will move into the new Jo Ellen Ammons Field House which will be home to the football, women's soccer, men's and women's golf and men's and women's tennis programs.
Riggins served on numerous NCAA committees, including serving as chair of the NCAA Championships Committee and the NCAA Task Force regarding NCAA Division II eligibility issues. He was the vice-chair of the NCAA Division II Management Council, was on the NCAA Legislative Committee, served on the NCAA Budget and Finance Committee, the NCAA Playing Rules Committee and on the NCAA Division II Game Environments Committee.
Additionally, in 2018, the South Atlantic Conference announced a new award named in honor of Riggins, "The SAC David Riggins Service Award." It will be awarded each year to an administrator from a SAC institution for their outstanding service to the conference.
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