Former University of Sioux Falls quarterback Kurtiss Riggs will be inducted into the NAIA Hall-of-Fame at the Football Coaches Association National meetings in Nashville, Tenn., on January 7, 2013.
The honor is the highest honor bestowed by the NAIA. Individuals inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame must be persons of outstanding quality, high moral character, fine leadership and must be held in high esteem by colleagues, coaches and athletes.
“It’s a great honor that brings back perspective and memories of the accomplishments of the 1996 team,” Riggs said. “That team changed the atmosphere not just of the football program, but the entire athletics department by showing that a small school like USF could compete and win on a national level.”
“It’s hard to celebrate this as an individual award because I never would have accomplished this without my teammates,” Riggs said. “I hope it opens the door for my teammates like David Ruter and Kalen DeBoer to receive hall of fame consideration.”
Riggs amassed a record of 25-1 in two seasons as the Cougars’ starting quarterback. He still holds several NAIA records, including the most touchdown passes in a season (55), most consecutive attempts without an interception (290) and lowest interception percentage (.75%).
His career and season marks also remain the standard at USF. Riggs holds school records in single-season passing yards (3,993), completions (265), touchdown passes (55) and single-game records in passing yards (457), completions (30) and touchdowns (8).
The Green River, Wyo., native was a two-time All-SDIC 1st team quarterback and Don Hansen’s National Gazette NAIA All-American who also received the 1995 SDIC Player of the Year and 1996 NAIA 1st Team All-American honors.
He saved his best for the last game of his collegiate career—the 1996 NAIA Championship game. Riggs passed for 455 yards and five touchdowns to lead USF to its first national championship, a 47-25 victory against Western Washington.
Riggs thrilled USF fans and haunted opposing coaches and current Colorado Mesa University head football coach Russ Martin is better qualified than most to assess his place in NAIA football history. In a letter of recommendation on behalf of Riggs, he called Kurtiss “exactly the kind of person that the Hall of Fame was created for.” The former Black Hills State coach added that he “had the great pleasure (and displeasure) of coaching against him and have never seen another QB at any level operate with as much efficiency as Kurtiss; you can look at his statistical background and see there is no comparison available.”
Riggs is the third USF athlete to earn induction into the NAIA Hall of Fame and the first since Brian Hansen was inducted in 1994. Sioux Falls College Brave Wally Diehl (track and field) was the first to earn the honor with his induction in 1968. Riggs will also join his former head coach, Bob Young, who was inducted in 2010.
Riggs also spoke today about his old coach and now fellow NAIA Hall of Fame inductee. “It was a struggle for me at first because USF ran the option and I was very close to transferring after my freshman year,” Riggs said. “Coach Young talked me into staying, changed the offense and got me to believe that the team could accomplish what we ultimately did.”
“It will be the utmost honor to receive this award with Coach Young in attendance,” he added.
Riggs is currently a teacher at Roosevelt High School and has served as the head coach for the Sioux Falls Storm since 2003. With Riggs at the helm, the Storm has compiled a record of 140-28 and has won six national titles (2005-2008, 2011 and 2012).
“The entire athletic department was thrilled to death when we received word that Kurtiss will be inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame,” said USF athletic director Kevin Hesser. “I know that USF holds a very special place in his heart, and this is a wonderful way to pay tribute to him for his athletic achievements.”
“Kurtiss truly deserves this honor, and I hope it inspires our current student-athletes to perform at such a high level,” Hesser added.
Riggs will join 17 other inductees into this year's Hall of Fame, with details for the induction ceremony to be released by the NAIA at a later date.
Courtesy: Steph Pendrys, USF