East Lansing — The all-time leading tackler in Michigan State football history leads the 2019 Hall of Fame class.
Dan Bass, who played from 1976-79 and collected 541 career stops, leads a five-member class that includes Karen Dennis (track & field), Mike Donnelly (hockey), Tom Milkovich (wrestling) and Mike Robinson (basketball). They will be inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame on Oct. 24 as part of Michigan State’s annual “Celebrate” weekend and will be honored during the football game against Penn State on Oct. 26.
“This is an outstanding class that includes national and school record holders, trailblazers and national champions,” Michigan State athletic director Bill Beekman said. “When I look at the credentials of each honoree, I’m a bit surprised that they weren’t already in the Hall of Fame, which speaks to the overall strength of this class.”
Bass was a second team All-American in 1979 when he also earned first team All-Big Ten honors. He led MSU in tackles all four years he played and made 160 stops as a senior, which is still good for fifth-most in program history. Bass also holds the school record for tackles in a game, collecting 32 against Ohio State in 1979.
“It is an honor, but then it’s kind of not, because in that game we got the crap kicked out of us, so it meant that I was on the field a lot. I would have rather won the game and had five tackles,” Bass said. “It might be hard for someone, but there’s always going to be somebody out there that’s better and will break it, and good for that guy, I hope he wins.”
Robinson played for the Spartans from 1971-74. He led the Big Ten in scoring twice and averaged 24.2 per game, the best average in program history.
“It’s hard to imagine that I’m still up there,” Robinson said of his scoring mark. “There are so many great players who have come to Michigan State and now you have the three-point shot and it still baffles me that I’m up there on that list. I take a lot of pride in that. Consistency was very important to me.”
Donnelly helped the Spartans win the 1986 national championship under legendary coach Ron Mason. He was an All-American and a Hobey Baker Award finalist. He scored 59 goals that season, which remains an NCAA record.
“We’d get a copy of the CCHA stats here and there, but I never realized where I stood,” Donnelly said of his goal-scoring run as a senior. “I think one time around Christmas some of the guys said ‘Hey, you have more goals than Brett Hull.’
“Today, everything is tracked so closely and everyone knows, but back then, I had no idea. There was no internet and you just didn’t know where everyone stood. Looking back on it, it’s kind of funny.”
Dennis ran track and field from 1974-77 then went on to serve as the head coach from 1981-92. She was the first Michigan State woman to win a national title, finishing first in the 220-yard dash in 1975.
“I think that wanting to reach the highest level of athleticism in your sport is a goal and to be a national champion at Michigan State, that was obviously one of the highlights of my athletic career,” Dennis said. “Then to proceed with helping other athletes, other students, achieve that same level of success as a coach were probably the more memorable and more significant moments in my life.”
Milkovich, a three-time All-American, won four Big Ten titles and was the national champion at 142 pounds as a junior in 1972 when he went 23-0.
“To be inducted into the Michigan State Hall of Fame with all of the great athletes and coaches is quite an honor,” Milkovich said. “I was thrilled. I thought and hoped that at some point I might get in since I still hold a few records and because of the career I had. It took a lot of hard work and lot of people behind the scenes.”