Byard, Hayes Named to Conference USA Hall of Fame Class of 2024


MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Former Middle Tennessee football standout and NFL All-Pro safety Kevin Byard and legendary MTSU Track and Field Coach Dean A. Hayes were named to the Conference USA Hall of Fame Class of 2024, the league office announced on Monday.

Byard and Hayes are the first two Blue Raiders to be inducted to the CUSA Hall of Fame, which inducted its first class in 2019. Byard is the first defensive player to enter the Hall of Fame.

Byard, a four-year starter for the Blue Raiders from 2012-15, finished his MTSU career as the program’s all-time leader in interceptions (19), interception return yards (377), interception return touchdowns (4). He forced or gained 25 turnovers (19 INT, 5 FF, 1 FR) in 49 career games played.

A four-time CUSA Coach of the Year, Hayes won 11 CUSA titles during his time at the helm of the Track and Field program, six titles with men’s teams and five with women’s teams, including the final two titles his teams competed in prior to his passing in January 2022, sweeping the 2021 Conference USA Cross Country Championships. His student-athletes won 87 Conference USA individual titles and his Blue Raider teams were awarded Athlete of the Year awards 13 times during CUSA Track and Field Competition during Hayes’ tenure at the program’s helm.

The Conference USA Hall of Fame is the ninth hall of fame Dean A. Hayes will be inducted into, joining the Blue Raider Hall of Fame (1982), the Illinois Sports Hall of Fame (1993), the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame (1994), the Mason-Dixon Athletic Club Hall of Fame (2005), the USTFCCCA Hall of Fame (2008), the Lake Forest College Hall of Fame (2009), the Naperville Hall of Fame (2019) and the Ohio Valley Conference Hall of Fame (2023).

The league’s Hall of Fame Committee selects the nominees and the league’s Athletics Directors serve as the voting panel for the CUSA Hall of Fame. The inaugural class made its debut in 2019 with 20 student-athletes, three coaches and two administrators. Current and future CUSA Hall of Fame class size will be at least one inductee and a maximum of five per year. Nominees not selected in this class will remain on the ballot for future years.

The CUSA Hall of Fame Class of 2024:
Kevin Byard, Middle Tennessee, Football (2012-15)
Jareica Hughes, UTEP, Women’s Basketball (2006-09)
Jessica Kuster, Rice, Women’s Basketball (2011-2014)
Dean Hayes, Middle Tennessee Track & Field/Cross Country Head Coach (2014-2021)

Source: MTSU
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