Star-studded class elected to MSU Hall of Fame

Erick Dampier is one of five former Bulldogs to be elected to this year's MSU Sports Hall of Fame.  (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Erick Dampier is one of five former Bulldogs to be elected to this year’s MSU Sports Hall of Fame. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Four former student-athletes and one former athletic trainer/current administrator will be officially inducted into the Mississippi State Sports Hall of Fame during pregame festivities prior to the Bulldogs’ Oct. 24 football game against Kentucky, the MSU M-Club Alumni Association announced Thursday.

The annual Mississippi State Sports Hall of Fame Gala will take place Thursday, Oct. 22 at 6 p.m. in the Leo Seal M-Club. Tickets are available for purchase at starting at $100. There will be a post gala party at a venue to be determined.

New inductees to the MSU Sports Hall of Fame are two-time All-Southeastern Conference linebacker Ray Costict, men’s basketball All-American Erick Dampier, former athletic trainer and current Associate Athletic Director Straton “Strat” Karatassos, All-SEC wide receiver Eric Moulds and four-time Kodak All-American in women’s basketball LaToya Thomas.

“It’s an honor to have this great class join the gold standard of Mississippi State Athletics,” said Wayne Madkin, chairman of the MSU Sports Hall of Fame committee. “Many I grew up watching and others I had the privilege to see their excellence at work first hand. We look forward to their formal induction in October.”

Costict will be inducted posthumously. The Moss Point native started three seasons for the Bulldogs (1973-76), registering a school-record 467 career tackles and earning first-team All-SEC and second-team All-America honors as a senior in 1976. On Oct. 9, 1976, Costict notched an amazing school-record 29 tackles as MSU beat Kentucky, 14-7, in Jackson. Both records still stand today.

That season Costict was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year as he helped lead MSU to a 9-2 record and a No. 20 Associated Press final ranking. He tallied a then-school-record 156 tackles before being selected by the New England Patriots in the 1977 NFL Draft. Costict played three seasons with the Patriots and had a standout 1978 campaign with four starts and 50.5 tackles.

Dampier took Mississippi State to unprecedented heights, leading the Bulldogs to the 1996 Final Four, the first for a team from Mississippi. The All-SEC and All-American performer finished his time at MSU with 1,231 points in just three years before an illustrious 15-year pro career that concluded in 2012 and featured two trips to the NBA finals with both the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat.

Dampier, the 10th overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft by the Indiana Pacers, ranks fifth all-time at MSU with his 859 rebounds, while his 1,231 points currently rank 21st. For 15 years, he held the school record with 249 blocked shots, a mark Jarvis Varnado now holds with an NCAA-best 564.

A native of New Hebron, Miss., Dampier was honored as an SEC Legend in the spring of 2015.

Easily one of the most popular and recognizable personalities in MSU Athletic department history, having now been on campus for some 42 years, is Karatassos. Now in his 23rd year serving State’s development efforts in the Bulldog Club, he attended to the daily training needs of MSU’s student-athletes for 20 years prior to moving into that role, after joining the athletic family in 1973.

During his time in a developmental role, Karatassos’ efforts have been instrumental in increasing the Bulldog Club’s membership from roughly 3,500 members in the mid-1990s to over 12,000 today. Financial donations to the BDC have climbed from just over $3 million to $28.1 million in the same span.

Karatassos was named MSU’s head athletic trainer in 1981 and later took on the role as assistant AD for Sports Medicine. He accompanied Bulldog football teams to five bowl appearances in that capacity and also handled the athletic training responsibilities for five NCAA College World Series baseball clubs coached by legendary Diamond Dog head coach Ron Polk. He was inducted into the Mississippi Athletic Trainers Association Hall of Fame in 2007.

In his four-plus-decade career in Starkville, Karatassos has worked with numerous coaches, student-athletes and contributors to better State’s athletic program overall. He has witnessed over 400 MSU football games in person in addition to countless other sports and MSU-related events, and has worked for eight different MSU Athletic Directors. Always known for his kind, gentle and helpful nature, Karatassos is a native of Savannah, Ga., and 1973 graduate of Georgia Southern.

One of the electrifying playmakers in school history, Moulds starred at receiver from 1993-95 in Starkville, catching 117 passes for 2,022 yards and 17 touchdowns. Today, he ranks fourth in yards and second in touchdowns on MSU’s career receiving list.

Moulds was a second-team All-SEC selection in 1994 with 39 catches for 845 yards and seven scores. That season, he led the entire NCAA Division I-A in kickoff return yardage with a 32.8 average. A year later, the Lucedale native was a consensus first-team all-league selection by the coaches after tallying 62 catches for 779 yards and six touchdowns.

The 24th overall pick in the 1996 NFL Draft, Moulds blossomed into one of the two greatest wide receivers in Buffalo Bills history alongside Andre Reed. Moulds earned three Pro Bowl and all-pro selections (1998, 2000, ’02). In 1998, he topped the AFC with a franchise-record 1,368 receiving yards. In 2009, Moulds was named to the Buffalo Bills’ 50th Anniversary All-Time Team.

From 2000-03, Thomas proved to be one of the top players in MSU and SEC women’s basketball history, becoming just the sixth women’s player ever to be named a four-time Kodak All-American and just the eighth freshman to earn the honor. The 2000 Associated Press SEC Newcomer of the Year and two-time AP SEC Player of the Year ended her heralded four years at MSU with 2,981 points, a mark that still sits atop program records while ranking second and 11th in SEC and NCAA history, respectively. She also continues to rate fifth in SEC annals in field goals made with 1,119 and first in free throws made with 709 over her four years in Starkville.

Thomas, who holds five of the Top 10 single-game scoring marks at MSU, was a three-time National Player of the Year finalist, two-time Associated Press First Team All-American and first-team All-SEC selection all four years.

After averaging 23.8 ppg for her career with the Bulldogs, Thomas became the first athlete from the state of Mississippi to be taken with the No. 1 pick in a professional draft when she was selected by the Cleveland Rockers in the 2003 WNBA Draft. She went on to play eight seasons in the league while enjoying a successful overseas career as well.

The MSU Sports Hall of Fame, administered by the M-Club Alumni Association, is designed to honor those former student-athletes, coaches and administrators at Mississippi State who excelled in their respective sports at MSU while also demonstrating good citizenship and outstanding character since leaving the university.

(From MSU Media Relations)

I have covered Mississippi State in some capacity since 2004 and joined the Daily Journal staff in 2013. I enjoy short walks on the beach, performing concerts in my car and watching professional wrestling.

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