STARKVILLE, Miss. (MSU Athletics/WTVA) - Five outstanding contributors to Mississippi State athletics will be inducted into the MSU Sports Hall of Fame at halftime of the Bulldogs’ Sept. 29 football game against Florida.
The five-member Class of 2018 includes former football and baseball standout L.M. “Molly” Halbert (posthumously), standout Diamond Dawg pitcher Paul Maholm, women’s basketball guard Alexis Rack, former Bulldog Director of Athletics Larry Templeton and former men’s basketball guard Tony Watts.
Prior to Saturday’s induction, the annual MSU Sports Hall of Fame Gala will be held Friday, Sept. 28, at The Mill Conference Center beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at msumclub.org for $100 per person, with proceeds benefitting the MSU M-Club Alumni Association.
Halbert was a three-year letterman in baseball and football at MSU from 1956-58. After leading the Bulldogs in 1957 with 60 at-bats, four home runs and 16 RBIs, he was selected to play in the 1957 Blue-Gray All-Star Game before signing a professional contract with the New York Yankees.
Halbert, who passed away in 2000 at the age of 64, was eventually traded to the Cincinnati Reds, where he played catcher for three seasons in their organization. He returned to MSU in 1967 as field secretary for the Alumni Association, and from 1969-75 served as an assistant football coach and recruiting coordinator.
He founded Mississippi State’s Bulldog Club and served as executive director for 15 years.
Maholm was an All-SEC and All-American pitcher for the Bulldogs from 2001-03. Maholm finished his three-year Bulldog career tied for fifth in wins with 27. His 273-career strikeouts at MSU ranked third at the time and currently rate fourth.
Maholm led the Bulldogs in wins and strikeouts each of his three seasons, including going a combined 19-5 his final two seasons. In 2001, he was named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American after helping MSU to the SEC Tournament title.
He was named All-SEC and an All-American each of his final two seasons in Maroon & White before being drafted eighth overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2003 Major League Baseball Draft. He spent 10 years in MLB, winning 77 games and compiling 984 strikeouts with the Pirates, Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers.
Rack, the first two-time winner of the CSpire Gillom Trophy, lit up the basket at a record rate for the Bulldogs’ women’s basketball team from 2007-10. A two-time First Team All-SEC selection, Rack made an impressive 340 3-pointers in her career, a total that still tops the SEC record books.
She averaged 14.9 ppg as a junior, earning All-SEC laurels while leading the Bulldogs to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. In her final campaign, she scored at a 17.5 clip and made 108 3-pointers, second-most in SEC history, to earn WBCA All-America Honorable Mention honors and guide Mississippi State to the program’s first Sweet 16 appearance.
Rack ended her career third at MSU in career scoring with 1,756 points and posted three of the Top 4 3-point shooting seasons in school annals. She went on to be drafted 29th overall by the San Antonio Stars in the 2010 WNBA Draft.
Templeton served as Mississippi State’s Director of Athletics for 21 years. In that time, the Bulldogs’ current Athletics Director Emeritus helped MSU be an innovator in equality in sports for women, and he oversaw the additions of new and renovated facilities while focusing on keen fiscal management.
A 1969 MSU graduate, Templeton was named the Bulldogs’ Director of Athletics in 1987. In his tenure, State had some of its most successful athletics seasons despite having the smallest budget in the conference. Under his guidance, MSU teams won seven SEC regular-season championships and seven conference tournament titles. Baseball went to the College World Series four times, while men’s basketball made the program’s only appearance in the Final Four.
His work extended outside Starkville also. In 1990, Templeton, who currently serves as a consultant for the league office, was tabbed chairman of the SEC athletic directors by his colleagues, a title he held longer than anyone. He also served on the NCAA Baseball Committee, the NCAA Championship Committee, the NCAA Management Council and the NCAA Bowl Certification Committee.
Aside from the accomplishments MSU made in competition under his watch, the Bulldogs also excelled in the classroom during his time leading the department. Because of that success, Mississippi State’s Templeton Athletic Academic Center was named in his honor.
Watts was a four-year standout guard for the Bulldog men’s basketball team and member of the Mississippi State 1990-91 edition that went 20-9 overall, 13-5 in the SEC, to win the SEC championship and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1963.
In his final season with the Bulldogs, Watts earned All-SEC honors from the Coaches and Associated Press after averaging 19.2 ppg and shooting a league-best 84.8 percent from the free-throw line.
Watts wrapped his career with 1,491-career points, which currently rates 12th in program history. In the Bulldog career record books, he also owns the ninth-most made fields (1,217), sixth-most 3-pointers made (166), seventh-best free-throw percentage (80.9%) and eighth-most steals (154).