ST. LOUIS — Former Illinois State two-sport star Mike Prior was selected as one of six inductees into Missouri Valley Conference Hall of Fame class of 2020, MVC Commissioner Doug Elgin announced Tuesday.
Also selected in the 23rd MVC Hall of Fame class were baseball player Bill Mueller (Missouri State); four-time NCAA track & field pole vault champion in Kylie Hutson (Indiana State); coaches Richard “Itchy” Jones (Southern Illinois baseball) and Phog Allen (Kansas basketball) and basketball star Larry Humes (Evansville).
Prior is the 14th Illinois State representative in the MVC Hall of Fame, joining Kenneth "Buzz" Shaw (1998), Doug Collins (1998), Cathy Boswell (2003), Will Robinson (2003), Jill Hutchison (2008), John Coughlan (2009), Linda Herman (2014), D.A. Weibring (2015), Dave Bergman (2016), Sue Daggett Miller (2016), Charlotte Lewis (2017), Christian Goy (2018) and Kristi Cirone (2019).
“Mike was a tremendous multi-sport student-athlete during his career at Illinois State,” ISU Director of Athletics Larry Lyons said. “He is easily one of the greatest athletes to ever compete for the Redbirds or for any MVC school. He could have played at the highest level in professional baseball, had he not chosen to play in the National Football League for 13 seasons.
"Mike has represented the Redbirds so well over the years and we are thrilled that he has been selected as a deserving member of the Missouri Valley Conference Hall of Fame class of 2020.”
From 1981-85, Prior lettered three years in baseball and four times in football. A three-time Division I-AA (now FCS) All-American defensive back, Prior holds ISU's career record for interceptions (23) and is tied for second with three interceptions in a game. He also ranks second in school history with three career punt return touchdowns.
“I’m extremely honored to be a part of the Missouri Valley Conference Hall of Fame class of 2020,” Prior said. “I will be forever grateful to Illinois State for taking a chance on me, when there weren’t many other offers out there, and giving me the opportunity to play both football and baseball for the Redbirds.
"I’m looking forward to sharing this experience with my family and friends in March and will represent ISU proudly as a member of this wonderful class of honorees.”
The Chicago Heights, Illinois, native finished his career as ISU’s all-time leader in punt return yards (906 yards), a record that still stands. He was team MVP in 1982 and 1984 and his No. 15 jersey is one of three retired by the Redbird football program.
In baseball, he was a two-time All-MVC selection and holds ISU career records in batting average (.388) and slugging percentage (.715).
Prior was selected in the fourth round of the MLB Draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers and the seventh round of the NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
His 13-year NFL career (Tampa Bay, Indianapolis, Green Bay) included 691 tackles, 35 interceptions, 7 forced fumbles and a Super Bowl title. He currently works for the Colts as the Youth Football Commissioner in the Marketing/Community Relations department.
The league will conduct its annual Hall of Fame ceremony as part the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Men’s Basketball Championship next March 5-8. The March 6 festivities will begin with an 8 a.m. breakfast, followed by the induction ceremony at 8:30 a.m.
Tickets to the event – scheduled to be at Stifel Theatre (formerly known as the Peabody Opera House), which is adjacent to Enterprise Center (formerly known as Scottrade Center) – can be obtained by calling the league office at (314) 444-4300.