Former Rock athletes standout at professional level
March 5, 2015
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Slippery Rock University has always had a rich history in athletics, and that history has become richer and richer as more former athletes have continued playing sports at a professional level.
Standouts like Matt Adams, Myron Brown and Brandon Fusco top that list, and SRU Associate Athletic Director Torry Rollins is thrilled to be a part of a university that has produced exceptional athletes.
“Slippery Rock has a tremendous athletic tradition,” Rollins said. “Going back to the late ’80s and early ’90s, SRU had a strong Division I wrestling program and a great swimming program. But what really kicked it off was the men’s basketball program, led by Myron Brown.”
Brown’s Slippery Rock career spanned over four years (1987-1991), and he played in front of a sold out crowd at Morrow Field House. The arena would become so packed, that the university had to supply additional seating behind each hoop.
Rollins actually had first hand experience playing against Brown, having been a member of Edinboro’s men’s basketball team.
“Our biggest rival back then was Slippery Rock,” Rollins said. “Brown was such an exceptional athlete, and for my generation he really put Slippery Rock on the map. Every time we played him this place was packed, and people were very aware of the amount of attention and press he was receiving.”
After graduating from SRU, Brown declared for the 1991 NBA Draft where he was chosen 34th overall in the second round by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Brown lasted just one year with Timberwolves before making the jump to the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) and played with the Fort Wayne Fury. He bounced around both the CBA and the United States Basketball League for six years before playing overseas for eight seasons. Brown retired from basketball in 2006 as a member of the Detroit Wheels of the American Basketball Association.
Fusco played Rock football from 2006-2010, where he earned numerous Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) honors as well as All-American Honors as the team’s center. He also became the first player in SRU history to be invited to and play in the Senior Bowl. Fusco was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the sixth round of the 2011 National Football League Draft, and currently remains on the Vikings roster as a starting guard. He signed a five-year $25 million contract extension in September.
Perhaps the most notable of former Rock athletes is current St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams. Adams holds the SRU career records at batting average (.473) and slugging percentage (.754). He was drafted by St. Louis in the 23rd round of the Major League Baseball Draft. Adams made his Major League debut May 20, 2012.
The most prolific moment of his career to this point was his go-ahead three-run home run off of 2014 Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw in game four of the National League Divisional Series. Adams’ number 25 was retired by SRU in February.
“Our baseball coach (Jeff Messer) always tells me he knew Matt was good when he recruited him,” Rollins said. “The baseball program here sends a lot of people to the minor leagues, but it’s very awesome to see one of our guys make it big and have success so early in his career.”
The success of these athletes at the professional level have given students, faculty, and alumni a sense of pride.
“Athletic teams are the face of a university,” Rollins said. “Whether they are doing good or bad, they will be on the front page. We know that it’s what drives some potential students to come here. To have these types of players go on to the professional level is just a major accomplishment.”