By Barry Janoff
February 27, 2012: Legendary women's basketball players Dawn Staley and Anne Donovan, all-time track & field greats Valerie Brisco, Gail Devers and Dan O'Brien, soccer star Kristine Lilly and hockey game-changer Cammi Granato head up a list of 18 individual Olympic athletes, five Paralympic athletes and five teams named today as nominees for induction into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.
The U.S. Olympic Committee unveiled the roster of nominees eligible for induction into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame presented by Allstate Insurance and immediately invited fans to vote for those athletes and teams they feel are most deserving of a spot in the Class of 2012.
The public is invited to vote for their preferred candidates and teams at TeamUSA.org/halloffame. Voters will be allowed to vote once per day, per category, through April 9, 2012.
Once voting closes, the public vote totals will be added to the vote totals of Olympians, Paralympians and U.S. Olympic Family members to determine the six Olympians, one Paralympian and one team that will make up the 2012 class.
The U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame presented by Allstate Class of 2012 is scheduled to be unveiled on May 15 and inducted on July 12 during an induction ceremony at the Harris Theater in Chicago.
In addition to presenting sponsor Allstate, associate sponsors of the Hall of Fame induction ceremony include AT&T, BP and AmeriTrade.
Among the nominees:
• Cammi Granato: Captain of the U.S. women's hockey team that won a gold medal in the 1998 Winter Olympics; she was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010.
• Kristine Lilly: A member of the United States women's national soccer team for 24 years. She is the most capped men's or women's soccer player in the history of the sport with 352.
• Dawn Staley: One of the greatest players in WNBA history and a three-time Olympic gold-medal winner with the U.S. women's basketball team (1996, 2000, 2004); the 1996 team that won gold at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta has also been nominated for induction.
"The U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame celebrates a commitment to excellence and perseverance and recognizes American athletes who are role models and heroes," Mark LaNeve, Allstate's CMO and senior evp-agency operations, said in a statement. "Allstate is proud to protect the legacy of these athletes and their accomplishments while offering fans the chance to play an important role in selecting who will be eternally etched in Olympic history." (Editor's Note: LaNeve left the company on Feb. 27 due to personal reasons.)
"With excitement building ahead of the London Games, there is no better time than now to honor the legacy of the great individual and team performances."
According to Scott Blackmun, USOC CEO, "It is a privilege to introduce this incredibly deserving group of nominees for induction into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame and an honor to invite the American public to vote for who they want to be a part of the class of 2012."
Blackmun cited the upcoming Summer Olympics as adding special meaning to this year's induction. "With excitement building ahead of the London Games this summer, there is no better time than now to honor the legacy of the great individual and team performances, and make them a permanent part of U.S. Olympic Team history," said Blackmun.
Athletes and teams nominated for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame presented by Allstate were selected by a committee comprised of individuals representing the following areas of the U.S. Olympic Movement: United States Olympians Assn., Athletes' Advisory Council, media members, USOC executive team, USOC Board of Directors, one at-large committee member and a Paralympic sports representative.
The U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame was established in 1979 to celebrate the achievements of America's premier athletes in the modern Olympic Games. The first U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame class was inducted in 1983.
The full list of players and teams nominated for possible induction: