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Famous alumni athletes, coaches from University of Cincinnati

Oscar Robertson

Oscar Robertson was named "Player of the Century" for his achievements in both college and professional basketball.

Oscar Robertson, Bus '60, HonDoc '07

Robertson has captivated Bearcat fans for decades. UC's finest player in history, No. 12 set multiple scoring records that remain unbroken. The Big O followed his outstanding college career, 1957-60, with a 14-year hall-of-fame NBA career. Robertson was named Player of the Century by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.


Jack Twyman, Ed '55

Jack Twyman led the Bearcat basketball team in both scoring and rebounding from 1953 to 1955, averaging more than 24 points and 16 rebounds his senior year. Twyman was a six-time NBA All-Star and played professionally for 11 season with the Rochester/Cincinnati Royals. Jack equaled his outstanding career on the court with an impressive humanitarian effort off court when he became the legal guardian for then teammate Maurice Stokes -- paralyzed after a game injury in 1958. Twyman dedicated himself to raising funds to care for Stokes as well as former NBA players in need -- an effort that continues today through a pro-am golf event featuring NBA players. Besides playing the game, Twyman also served as a sportscaster in the late 60s and early 70s when he worked as an NBA analyst on ABC. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1983.

LINK: Read Twyman's complete obituary

Jack Laub

Jack Laub played six years of collegiate basketball -- two years prior to WWII at the City College of New York and four with UC after the war.

Jack Laub, A&S '50

Jack Laub returned to college in 1946, after his WWII service as an officer in the Merchant Marine and a stint in the US Coast Guard, to accept a basketball scholarship with the Bearcats. Prior to the war, Laub had already completed two varsity years with the City College of New York, which inducted him into its sports hall of fame in 2002. While at Cincy, Laub, a sharp-shooting guard, became known as the "Black Cat" because of his dark hair, defensive crouch and quick reflexes. He helped UC to four straight conference championships as a player, and Coach John Wiethe appointed him assistant coach and later head scout for the UC team, which made its first appearance in the National Invitation Tournament in 1951. Laub's greatest contribution to UC, however, may have been the day he recommended that Wiethe award Jack Twyman the team's final scholarship.

Laub became one of the first two UC players in the NBA (along with Dick Dallmer) when he was drafted by the Baltimore Bullets, traded to the Minneapolis Lakers and later acquired by the Scranton Miners who won two championships during his tenure. In 1959, Laub returned to the sideline as head coach at the U.S. Kings Point Merchant Marine Academy. He took the position as a favor to UC so then-Kings coach, Ed Jucker, could return to Cincinnati. In May 2010, UC's McMicken College of Arts & Sciences honored Laub with the Distinguished Alumni Award for his contribution to the reduction of prescription drug costs for consumers, hospitals and insurance companies in the U.S. He also established the first mail-order pharmacy in New York and streamlined the purchase of generic drugs to consumers through his businesses.

LINK: Read more about Jack Laub in "UC Where You Are."

Rich Franklin

MMA fighter Rich Franklin completed his master's at UC in 2001.

Rich Franklin, A&S '97, MEd '01

Rich Franklin is a high school math teacher turned mixed martial arts (MMA) champion. Once regarded as the best middleweight MMA fighter in the world, Franklin is among the elite superstars in the rapidly growing sport. A former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight champion, Franklin left behind the classroom at Oak Hills High School for the octagon, where fighters use a combination of techniques from wrestling, kickboxing and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Franklin helped found the "Keep It in the Ring Foundation" to advocate non-violence and build character in youth.

LINK: Read feature story on Rich Franklin.

Brig Owens, Ed '65, HonDoc '08

Brig Owens is a former UC All-American football player. After his UC career, the 1965 education major spent 13 seasons in the NFL with both the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins. Washington named their former defensive captain one of the 70 greatest Redskins of all time. After attaining his law degree from Antioch, Owens served in the NFL front office as associate counsel to the NFL Players Association from 1979-84, helping to form a new collective bargaining agreement. Owens dedicated much of his career to raising millions for youth development. He is today co-founder of Bennett & Owens, a sports management and real estate development firm. UC awarded Owens an honorary doctorate degree in 2008.

LINK: Read feature story on Brig Owens.

Ted Corbitt, Ed '42

Ted Corbitt completed more than 200 marathons and ultramarathons. He was the first black U.S. marathoner in Olympic history. At age 54, he ran more than 134 miles in 24 hours.

LINK: Read more about Corbitt's accomplishment.

Kevin Youkilis

Kevin Youkilis is a crucial member of the Red Sox starting lineup. photo/Phoebe Sexton, Boston Red Sox

Kevin Youkilis, Bus '01

Kevin Youkilis is a Major League first baseman and a two-time World Series champ and 2008 Hank Aaron Award winner with the Boston Red Sox, 2005-present. Before earning two World Series championships, first baseman Kevin Youkilis donned another pair of red socks, those of the University of Cincinnati. From 1998 to 2001, Youkilis (or "Youk," as he is affectionately known by Boston fans) climbed into the Bearcats' record books -- owning or sharing 10 UC records, including the most games played, home runs, runs scored, walks in a career and the highest on-base percentage in UC history.


Trent Cole, att '04

Trent Cole is an NFL defensive end and a two-time Pro bowler (2007, 2009) with the Philadelphia Eagles, 2005-present.

LINK: Read Cole's NFL player bio

Greg Cook

Greg Cook

Greg Cook, CAS '68

Greg Cook became another famous No. 12 at UC (like Oscar). Cook set several passing records while at UC and even set the NCAA record for passing yards in a game (554). Drafted by the Bengals in 1969, he led the American Football League in passing. Cook's true gift was the deep strike. He averaged 17.5 yards per completion in '69, a standard no professional quarterback has accomplished since. Unfortunately, Cook suffered a shoulder injury his rookie year that forced the phenomenal passer out of the game just four seasons later. Cook died in January 2012.


Sid Gillman

Though not an alumnus, Sid Gillman is worth mentioning as UC sports hero. He was selected to the NFL Hall of Fame for his outstanding coaching career. He is considered the innovator in using game film, a practice he developed while coaching the Bearcats in the '50s.

LINK: Feature article: Gillman's Greatest hits

Sandy Kofax gettinig ready to pitch

Sandy Kofax

Sandy Koufax, att. '54

Sandy Kofax is one of the true all-time greatest pitchers in history. Ironically, he came to the University of Cincinnati in 1953 on a basketball scholarship. Koufax played for UC's legendary coach Ed Jucker, who also happened to coach the varsity Bearcat baseball team. Koufax was drafted by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1954 following his freshman year at UC. After taming his control, Koufax enjoyed a five-year stretch as perhaps the most dominating pitcher in the game's history. He won 25 games three times, captured five straight ERA titles and pitched no-hitters in four consecutive seasons. He also posted a 0.95 ERA in four career World Series.

LINK: Read about Koufax' return trip to UC in 2000.

Ed Jucker

Another non-alumus, Ed Jucker coached the Bearcats to back-to-back national basketball championships in 1961-62 and nearly a third straight title in 1963.

LINK: Read the complete feature on UC's national championship teams.

Miller Huggins

Miller Huggins managed the powerhouse New York Yankee teams of the 1920s and won six American League pennants and three World Series championships.

David Payne

David Payne won silver in the '08 Olympics.

David Payne, att. '04

David Payne became the first Bearcat to medal at the Olympics in 24 years. Payne, won a silver medal during the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing for his performance in the 110 hurdles. He finished second behind Cuba's Dayron Robles with a season-best time of 13.17 seconds. Payne was the first Bearcat to medal at the Olympics since a string of UC swimmers brought home hardware -- in 1984 (Michelle MacPherson, bronze medal for Canada), 1980 (Tina Gustafsson, bronze medal for Sweden) and 1972 (Jenny Kemp, gold medal for USA). UC's other Olympic medalists are George Wilson (1964) and Oscar Robertson (1960), both of whom helped the United States basketball team win gold. Former UC diver Becky Ruehl (see below) narrowly missed medaling in 1996 when she finished fourth in the platform diving competition. Payne's former UC teammate, Mary Wineberg (below), also finished with a 2008 Olympic gold medal only days later in the 4-x-400-meter relay. Payne broke onto the international scene in 2007 when he turned in a bronze performance at Worlds in Osaka, Japan.


Mary Wineberg

Mary Wineberg, an Olympic gold medalist

Mary Wineberg, Ed '02

Mary Wineberg is a 2008 Olympic gold medalist. Wineberg -- who frequently trains at the University of Cincinnati with her husband and UC sprint coach, Chris Wineberg, Eng '04 -- ran the first leg of the American 4-x-400-meter relay team in Beijing, helping the U.S. to edge Russia for the top spot on the international podium. Wineberg earned a place on the American Olympic team after finishing second in the 400-meter dash during Olympic trials in the summer of '08. She first won notoriety in 2007 when she helped the American relay team win gold at Worlds in Osaka, Japan. The Cincinnati native set records at UC for the 400 in both indoor and outdoor competition.


Becky Ruehl, DAAP '00

Becky Ruehl became UC's first female national champion in any sport, earning the 10-meter competition title in 1996, the same year she competed on the U.S. Olympic team in Atlanta and finished fourth in the platform competition.


Urban Meyer

Urban Meyer, A&S '86

Urban Meyer played football at the University of Cincinnati, but it is his coaching career that has made him a national household name. Meyer coached the Florida Gators to a pair of BCS National Championships. He retired from coaching in 2010 to do some broadcasting work before re-entering the coaching scene as head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes in 2011.

LINK: Read feature that followed Meyer's national championship.

Tony Trabert

Tony Trabert

Tony Trabert, A&S '52, HonDoc '07

Tony Trabert won the NCAA singles title while at UC. He went on to capture three of the four Grand Slam singles titles in 1955 -- the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. He and Jimmy Connors are the only players to amass such a year in the last 47 years.
LINK: Tennis lessons from Trabert

Nick Van Exel, att '92

Nick Van Exel was an NBA player who averaged more than 14 points and 6 assists with several teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers, 1993-2006.

Danny Fortson, att '97

Danny Fortson was an NBA player who averaged a double-double in points and rebounds three of his 10 seasons that ended with the Seattle Supersonics, 1997-2007.

Jason Fabini, Bus '97

Jason Fabini was an NFL offensive lineman with New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins, 1998-2008.

Kenyon Martin

Kenyon Martin

Kenyon Martin, Ed '00

Kenyon Martin ascended from a raw-talented athlete to a devastating defender and polished scorer. Martin joined the Bearcats in early January of his freshman year but took only 12 games to take over the shot-blocking lead. As a sophomore, he became the first Bearcat in 31 years to record a triple-double. He capped that year with second-team all-league honors and his first of three straight Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year awards. Martin’s junior season featured honorable mention all-America recognition. Midway through that season, he broke the UC career record for blocked shots, giving him a clean sweep of the school’s marks for rejections. At the conclusion of his junior year, Martin eschewed the NBA draft and set about perfecting his offensive skills in the quest of becoming a complete player. He gave notice of what was in store when he directed the U.S. to the gold medal at the World University Games that summer, leading the star-studded squad in scoring and rebounding. With a potent offensive game to go with his defensive prowess, Martin returned for his senior campaign. A unanimous C-USA Player of the Year selection, he was a consensus all-American, everyone’s choice for National Player of the Year honors and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association's outstanding college player (the only UC player to receive the honor since Oscar Robertson, after whom the group named the related trophy). He was the No. 1 choice in the 2000 NBA draft by the New Jersey Nets and spent muc of his career with the Denver Nuggets.

LINK: Read Martin's NBA player bio.

Brent Celek

Brent Celek

Brent Celek, Bus '07

Brent Celek has set receiving records as a Philadelphia Eagle. The starting tight end signed a new six-year deal with the Eagles after a breakout season in 2009 in which he recorded 76 catches and 971 yards, including nine grabs in the NFC Championship Game.
LINK: Read Celek's NFL player bio.

Conner Barwin, att. '08

Conner Barwin was drafted in 2009 as a defensive end by the Houston Texans. Barwin wowed scouts with his senior year as a Bearcat in which he played both offense and defense, recording 12 sacks and 17 tackles for loss.
LINK: Read Barwin's NFL player bio.

Kevin Huber, Bus '08

Kevin Huber punts for the Cincinnati Bengals. Huber was drafted in 2009 and is averaging about 42 yards per kick.
LINK: Read Huber's NFL player bio.

Haruki Nakamura, Ed '08

Haruki Nakamura is a safety with the Baltimore Ravens. Nakamura was drafted in 2008.
LINK: Read Nakamura's NFL player bio.

Tyjuan Hagler, Ed '04

Tyjuan Hagler is a linebacker with the Indianapolis Colts. Hagler was drafted by Indy in 2005.
LINK: Read Hagler's NFL player bio.

Antwan Peek, Ed '09

Antwan Peek was drafted in 2003. He spent three years with the Texans before finishing his career as a Cleveland Brown.

Denise Johns, DAAP '02

Denise Johns, 6-1, is a professional beach volleyball player who competes for Great Britain. Born in Luxembourg, she grew up in Ohio and started playing volleyball at 10. She attended UC on a rowing scholarship, then started playing amateur beach volleyball in '03. Soon she won the AVPNext National Championships, then became pro in 2004, joining the AVP tour in the US for a few years. Afterward, she took up residence in Bath, England, the native homeland of her father.

Denise Johns stretches up to set up a ball (in a studio shot).

There she joined the British Volleyball Federation and the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB). She has been an FIVB world-tour player since 2006. She and her partner had hoped to represent Britain in the 2012 Olympics, but the country was only given a slot for one team and not two, and a rival team was selected. A bulging disc in Johns' lower back keeps her in nearly constant pain.

In all, Johns has competed in 42 AVP tournaments, six FIVB tournaments and 22 other tournaments; was ranked 12th on the AVP after 2006; and achieved the following:

  • World Championships , '09 Stavanger and '11 Rome
  • British beach volleyball Champion '07, '08, '09
  • Best offensive player, '07, '08, '09
  • FIVB Most Inspirational Player, 2010
  • 1st place, all British tournaments in which she competed, '06-10
  • 1st place, '90 Swedish Domestic Tour
  • 2nd place, '12 Czech Winter Tour
  • 2nd place, '07 Australian Domestic Tour
  • 2nd place, '05 Mexico  tour
  • 3rd place, '12 Hamilton Open, New Zealand Tour
  • 4th place, '11 Olympic Test Event
  • 4th place, '09 European (CEV) event
  • 4th place, '05 Argentina FIVB Challenge

Headshot of Tim Royalty

Tim Royalty, Eng '90, MS (Eng) '93

A U.S. Olympic gold-medal rower in 1995, Tim Royalty was head coach of UC’s women’s rowing from the 1990s-2005 and coached UC to win a National Collegiate Rowing Championship as a club sport in ’94. As founder of Precision Racing, Royalty designed and installed the 1984 and 1996 Olympic racecourses; the 2001 world cup course in Princeton, N.J.; the course for the 2002 Central American and Caribbean Games in El Salvador; and courses for the NCAA Championships from 1997-99, 2001, 2004-08 and again in 2010.

Tim Brown, '03

Tim Brown was was slated to be vice captain of the New Zealand's 2010 World Cup team, the All-Whites, when surgery to repair a fractured shoulder kept him off the field. He would hve been UC’s first player to appear in the World Cup. Brown played soccer at UC for three years and captained the Bearcats from 2001-03. He was a two-time All-Conference player, as well as an Academic All-American — one of four in UC soccer history. "I don't think I could have gotten here without playing at Cincinnati," Brown told the News Record in May 2010. "The way that we moved up as a soccer power in Cincinnati inspired me to take my game as far as I could." Brown has played professionally with the Wellington Phoenix in Australia's Hyundai A League since 2007.

Jason Maxiell

Jason Maxiell had an unforgettable performance against UK in UC's 69-60 NCAA tourney loss.

Jason Maxiell, A&S '05

Jason Maxiell was another dominant inside force for the Bearcats in his UC days. Max was drafted in 2005 in the first round by the Detroit Pistons with the 26th overall pick. He continues to play for Detroit, where he averages 4 rebounds and nearly 6 points a game.
LINK: Read Maxiell's NBA player bio.

DerMarr Johnson, att. '00

DerMarr Johnson was drafted the same year as Kenyon Martin following his freshman year. Johnson was drafted in the first round, 6th overall by the Atlanta Hawks. He played with New York, Denver, San Antonio and Washington. Johnson fought his way back to play pro ball again following a serious auto accident in 2002.

Tony Campana, A&S '10

Tony Campana plays center field with the Chicago Cubs. Campana's debut season in 2011 was highlited with the Tony Conigliaro Award, which is presented to a Major League player who has overcome adversity through the attributes of spirit, determination and courage that were trademarks of Conigliaro. Campana defeated Hodgkin's lymphoma as a child. He holds the record for most stolen bases at UC with 104.
LINK: See his MLB player bio.

Related story

See UC's complete Olympic history.

All Famous Alumni categories …

-- page compiled by John Bach, Deb Rieselman / updated 10-14