Athletics Hall of Fame


2007 Bluffton University baseball team to be inducted into Athletics Hall of Fame

The 2007 Bluffton University baseball team has been selected for induction into Bluffton’s Athletics Hall of Fame.

On March 2, 2007, the Bluffton baseball team experienced an accident that forever changed the lives of the players, coaches, their family and friends and the Bluffton campus community. While traveling to Sarasota, Fla., the baseball team's charter bus fell from an overpass in Atlanta, killing student-athletes David Betts (Bryan, Ohio); Scott Harmon (Elida, Ohio); Cody Holp (Verona, Ohio) and Tyler Williams (Lima, Ohio); and the bus driver and his wife. Twenty-eight others were injured. Student-athlete Zachary Arend (Oakwood, Ohio) died one week later.

The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017, in Founders Hall at Bluffton University. A private dinner event will be held earlier in the evening for the team and their families. The Athletics Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be open to the public. Seating will be available at 7 p.m. in Founders Hall for the general public and the program will begin at 7:15 p.m. Program speakers include Head Baseball Coach James Grandey, Bluffton University President Dr. James Harder and Athletics Director Phill Talavinia. Many players and their families will be in attendance including the families of Zachary, David, Scott, Cody and Tyler.  

The 2007 team demonstrated remarkable courage and strength in responding to the accident, including completing the 2007 baseball season under difficult circumstances. In 2010, the team was recognized by the NCAA with the Inspiration Award, presented “to a coach, administrator or athlete who, when confronted with a life-altering situation, showed perseverance, dedication and determination and now serves as a role model to give hope and inspiration to others.”

The team was the first team to be honored by the NCAA with this award and was recognized for its courage in returning to the baseball field only 28 days after the fatal bus crash. Of the 25 surviving student-athletes who were on the bus, 24 graduated. One left the university in 2008 to play minor-league baseball.

The Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act introduced by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) became law in 2012, and it was announced among other things, the legislation will require lap and shoulder belts in all new motocoaches beginning in November 2016. It also requires stricter qualifications for drivers and more stringent vehicle inspections.

This recognition is another way to remember the experiences of the 2007 team. While the events of that year must always be remembered as a tragedy, through the persistent advocacy of many, we are encouraged that required enhancements to motorcoach transportation safety will help prevent tragedies for other families.

In 2014, Advocates for the Highway and Auto Safety, a national non-profit advocacy organization, recognized the 2007 team and families with its Highway Safety Hero Award for leadership and determination to enhance motor coach safety. John and Joy Betts, parents of David Betts (1986-2007) attended the awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., and accepted the award.

The Hall of Fame committee voted unanimously to nominate and honor the 2007 team as the sole inductee in its first year of eligibility. All members of the team, including Zachary Arend, David Betts, Scott Harmon, Cody Holp and Tyler Williams, who died as a result of the bus accident, as well as all managers and coaches will be inducted as a team.

The Athletics Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be open to the public. Seating will be available at 7 p.m. in Founders Hall for the general public and the program will begin at 7:15 p.m.