N.C. Sports Hall of Fame to induct two former Elon coaches

Tom Parham and Jerry Tolley will be among seven accomplished figures this spring to make up the 2011 class to the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. Parham, who led Elon men's tennis program for nearly two decades and briefly coached the women's team, and Tolley, a celebrated Elon football coach, will be enshrined at a May 12 ceremony in the North Raleigh Hilton Hotel. Both men won NAIA national championships during their Elon careers.

Tom Parham (left) and Jerry Tolley will be inducted in to the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame in May.

Parham retired from Elon in 2004 and is a member of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame, the Elon Sports Hall of Fame, the Atlantic Christian/Barton College Hall of Fame, the NAIA Hall of Fame, the South Atlantic Conference Hall of Fame and the Wilson County Sports Hall of Fame. He guided the Elon men’s tennis team for 19 seasons (1986-2004) and the women’s squad for four campaigns (2001-04).

Parham’s men’s teams compiled a 279-115 record at Elon and he posted a 38-year career men’s record of 597-183.He guided Elon to the 1990 NAIA Division I national title, and his Elon teams captured 11 consecutive conference titles, advancing to the national tournament in each of those seasons. In that span, Elon claimed five district crowns. From 1987-91, Parham’s teams did not drop a conference match, posting a 34-0 record.

Parham was honored as the National Coach of the Year four times and coached 17 players to All-America honors, nine to academic All-America recognition, seven to conference MVP honors and two to NAIA District 26 MVP accolades. Parham was awarded the Elon Medallion in 2004, the university’s highest honor.

Parham has taught the game to thousands of North Carolinians and has been a supporter of junior and college tennis throughout his career. He has been recognized with three national community service awards and was awarded the “Order of The Long Leaf Pine” by the state in 1979.

Tolley began his college football coaching career at Elon in 1967 as the defensive coordinator and later as assistant head coach under Shirley “Red” Wilson. When Wilson departed Elon in 1977, Tolley was elevated to head football coach. Under his guidance, Elon amassed a sizzling 49-11-2 record (.806) with four South Atlantic Conference championships and three district titles over five years.

Tolley’s teams also advanced to the NAIA Division I playoffs on three occasions, claiming back-to-back national titles in 1980 and 1981. His 1978 squad earned national runner-up recognition. His 1977 team fell shy of a national playoff berth, but forged a 9-2 record and finished No. 6 in the national rankings. Tolley retired from coaching at the top of his game following the 1981 season.

For his efforts, Tolley collected many accolades including South Atlantic Conference, district, state, regional, area and national coach of the year honors. He also received the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame Dwight D. Eisenhower Award and the Eastman Kodak National Collegiate Football Championship Award.

While leading the Elon football program, Tolley coached 53 All-South Atlantic Conference performers – four who achieved South Atlantic Conference MVP status – to go along with 30 all-district honorees, 12 all-state selections and 18 All-Americans. Tolley was inducted into the Elon Sports Hall Fame in 1988.

Tolley continues to receive honors for his coaching accomplishments. In a private ceremony held in the governor’s office in 2002, then-Gov. Mike Easley presented him with the Laurel Wreath Award, the highest award given for athletic excellence by the State of North Carolina. In a ceremony held in New Orleans in 2003, the AFCA honored Tolley with its Lifetime Membership Award. At a banquet held in New York City in 2004, The All-American Football Foundation honored him for his long and outstanding contribution to the game of football with its coveted Lifetime Achievement Award.

In 2006, he received the Distinguished Service in Sports Award presented by the Alamance County Area Chamber of Commerce. Tolley was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame as part of that group’s 2008-09 class.

Other members of this year’s class include former NFL player Ricky Proehl, Greensboro Senior High School alumnus Al Proctor, the late Wake Forest announcer Gene Overby, stock-car racing star Dale Jarrett and high school basketball coach Larry Lindsey.

The new class’ induction will bring the Hall of Fame membership to 285. The Hall of Fame was established in 1962 and its exhibits are on the third floor of the history museum on Jones Street in Raleigh. The permanent exhibits feature significant artifacts donated by all of the inductees.