Homegrown Sports Legends

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"Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even."
Muhammad Ali, Inducted 1985

Our Hall is Famous

About Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame

Starting in 1963, the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame (KAHOF), fueled by the Kentucky Lottery, has recognized the athletic accomplishments of those who were born in or participated in sports in the Commonwealth. In 2018, the oversight and administration of the KAHOF transitioned from a volunteer organization to the Louisville Sports Commission (LSC). The staff and board of directors of the LSC, whose mission is to create, host and operate sports events and activities that improve the quality of life in our community, are privileged to carry on the tradition of honoring Kentucky’s legendary athletes and other sports figures who have achieved at a high level in their respective careers. On behalf of all Kentuckians who believe that sports can have a positive influence in our society, we owe a debt of gratitude to the inductees and volunteers who built the legacy of the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame during the past seven decades.   

The Hall

Induction Ceremony

The 2018 Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame Inductees and their families were honored on August 22, 2018, at the Muhammad Ali Center in downtown Louisville.

Comprising the 41st KAHOF class are: Sam Ball (Henderson), a consensus All-American offensive lineman at the University of Kentucky and Super Bowl champion; Bob Baffert, five-time Derby winner and two-time Triple Crown winning trainer; Bob Beatty, 13-time state championship-winning football coach at Trinity High School in Louisville; Bernie Bickerstaff (Benham), 33-year veteran NBA coach, administrator, and scout; Nicky Hayden (Owensboro; now deceased), MotoGP world championship motorcycle racer known as The Kentucky Kid; and Ken and Sarah Ramsey (Artimus), multiple-time leader owners at Churchill Downs, Keeneland, Turfway Park, and Kentucky Downs and among the most prolific thoroughbred owners and breeders ever in the Commonwealth.

Eligibility Criteria

To be considered for nomination to the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame (KAHOF), fueled by the Kentucky Lottery, candidates must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  1. Kentucky native and must have lived in Kentucky long enough to have participated in the sports he/she is being considered for induction, or participated in in a significant way.
  2. Longtime Kentucky resident - especially during the time he/she participated in sports activity.
  3. Played college sports in Kentucky and made some type of lasting impact or contribution in the state beyond his/her playing years.
  4. Participated in college or professional sports in the state for an extended period of time or had a major impact on sports in the state over several decades.
  5. Coached high school or college sports in Kentucky for an extended period of time (decades, not years) and is retired, unless the tenure exceeds three decades.

Selection Criteria

All candidates under consideration for the KAHOF must meet at least one of the following criteria.

  1. Made a major impact on sports in Kentucky.
  2. Kentucky native/resident who distinguished him/herself at a high level in sports activity outside the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

In addition to the above eligibility and selection criteria, all candidates must have represented themselves with dignity and class.

There are five categories for which a candidate will be considered for induction. 

  1. Athlete: Level/length of play. Records. Wins / winning percentage. MVP. Championships. All-Pro / All-American. Halls of Fame. Accolades.
  2. Coach: Level / length of tenure. Winning percentage. Championships. Halls of Fame.
  3. Administrator: Length of tenure. Program’s success. Accolades. Legacy.
  4. Media: Length of tenure. Award recognition by peers. Status in the industry. Level of work.
  5. Official: Length of tenure. Level of participation. Post season assignments. Accolades.

The following are age/tenure guidelines for consideration.

  1. Athlete – first year after retirement; or age 40 if still competing
  2. Coach / Administrator – minimum age 50
  3. Media – minimum 25 years on the job
  4. Official – minimum 25 years on the job and retired

The following achievements carry significance during the evaluation process:

  1. Olympic medalist
  2. World record holder by a recognized sports governing body
  3. Inducted into a recognized sports hall of fame
  4. Multiple-year all-pro and/or MVP over an extended period of time
  5. Led team(s) or earned individual, major national, or world championship(s)
  6. Contributed to the advancement of sports in Kentucky and/or nationally

There will be no restrictions on any candidate based on gender, sexual orientation, nationality / country of origin, religion, or place of residence.

To nominate someone for consideration, please click HERE to download a nomination form.

Selection Process

The public is encouraged to nominate individuals for consideration based on defined eligibility and selection criteria.

All nominations are reviewed by a screening committee that is comprised of sports experts and community volunteers. This committee will evaluate all nominations based on the criteria and provide a selection committee with a list of candidates.

The selection committee is comprised of sports media from throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The committee members will review the list of candidates and vote for their top five candidates using a 10-7-5-3-1 point system (1st place – 10 points; 2nd place – 7 points; 3rd place – 5 points; 4th place – 3 points; 5th place – 1 point). A designated number of candidates with the most points will be selected as those to be inducted.

All votes are independently tabulated by regional accounting firm Dean Dorton, one of the largest accounting and advisory firms in Kentucky, with offices in Louisville and Lexington. No member of the Louisville Sports Commission board or staff will receive or tabulate votes.

2018 Selection Committee Members

The Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame Selection Committee is comprised of the following members of the media from across Kentucky:


  • Jodie Demling, iHeart Media (Selection Committee chair)
  • Drew Deener, ESPN Radio
  • Katie George, WDRB Media
  • Natalie Grise, WLKY TV
  • Kendrick Haskins, WAVE 3
  • Kent Spencer, WHAS-TV
  • Jason Frakes, Courier Journal


  • Brian Milam, WKYT-TV
  • Steve Moss, WKYT-TV
  • Mark Story, Lexington Herald-Leader

Eastern Kentucky

  • Aaron Snyder, Daily Independent (Ashland)
  • Rocky Stanley, Daily Independent (Ashland)


  • Mark Mathis, Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer

Western Kentucky

  • Jeff Bidwell, WPSD-TV (Paducah)


  • Mike Fields, retired Lexington Herald Leader staff writer
  • Gary West, sports author, Bowling Green

Louisville Sports Commission staff
supporting the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame

Karl Schmitt, President & CEO
502-587-6716 – office
502-262-2807 – cell

Julie Howell, Vice President, Revenue Development
502-587-6742 – office
502-376-6450 – cell

Lisa Mills, Director, Marketing and PR
502-814-0200 – office
502-689-2976 – cell


The Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame (KAHOF), fueled by the Kentucky Lottery, was founded in 1963 to recognize athletes and sports figures who were born in, or who played their respective sport in, the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Each inductee is recognized with a bronze plaque that historically has been showcased at Freedom Hall at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky. After a hiatus in the 1970s and 1980s, the KAHOF was reinstated. Its volunteer board of directors aligned with Kosair Charities, which provided administrative support and oversaw the banquet In return, Kosair Charities was the beneficiary of an annual donation. In 2018, when Kosair Charities ended its longtime relationship with the event, the KAHOF board unanimously voted to allow the Louisville Sports Commission to oversee and administer all aspects of the KAHOF.

KAHOF inductees by year:

    Sponsoring the Hall