Cal State L.A.'s Athletics Hall of Fame inducts three new members

From left: Director of Athletics Dan Bridges, Mike Burns (’00), Tiare Tuitama (’08), Vicki Betts (’78) and President James M. Rosser at the induction ceremony on Feb. 28.

Cal State L.A.’s Athletics Hall of Fame includes three new members.

They competed at national and world levels—even Major League Baseball diamonds—and earned spots in Cal State L.A.’s all‒time statistics lists. Now, those athletic records have procured these former Golden Eagles a piece of immortality.

Baseball pitcher Mike Burns, volleyball setter Tiare Tuitama and women’s track and field national champion Vicki Betts were inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame on Feb. 28. The Class of 2013 was the 22nd to be inducted and brings the total Hall of Fame membership to 112.

The trio joins other notable Hall of Famers like tennis legend Billie Jean King, two‒time Olympic track and field gold medalist Mal Whitfield, former Major League Baseball outfielder Jay Gibbons and former Major League Baseball pitcher and pitching coach Bob Apodaca.

Burns (’00), who began his collegiate career as an infielder, was converted to a pitcher and became a two‒time All‒California Collegiate Athletic Association performer in his three years on the mound. His career highlight at Cal State L.A. came on March 21, 2000 when he tossed a nine‒inning no‒hitter against Cal State Dominguez Hills. The only base runner he allowed in that game reached on an error.

After earning All‒CCAA honors in 1999 and 2000, Burns was selected in the 30th round of the 2000 Major League Baseball Draft by the Houston Astros. He made his Major League debut for the Astros in 2005 and also had relief appearances in 2006 for the Cincinnati Reds and Boston Red Sox. He returned to the Majors in 2009 and had his first start for the Milwaukee Brewers on June 25 against the Minnesota Twins.

Burns made 15 appearances for the Brewers in 2009, including eight starts. He posted three wins and threw a total of 52 innings.

The Houston Astros scout who signed Burns, Doug Deutsch, the son of former Cal State L.A. head coach and 1997 Hall of Fame inductee Jack Deutsch, presented Burns for induction. “The University put together a beautiful evening and made my family and friends feel so welcome,” Burns said. “Being inducted into the Hall of Fame is a great honor. I gave 110 percent to my team and the University for four great years and being recognized for the effort is a great feeling.”

Tuitama (’08) was a four‒year star for Cal State L.A.’s volleyball program and led the Golden Eagles to their highest national finish in 2005. She was named the CCAA Player of the Year after Cal State L.A. went 16 ‒ 2 in conference play. The Golden Eagles then hosted the Pacific Region Championships and won the regional title in the Eagles Nest Gym.

Cal State L.A. advanced to the national quarterfinals and beat Lock Haven in five sets before ending its season in the semi‒finals in a loss to Nebraska‒Kearney. The Golden Eagles had a 28 ‒ 3 overall record that season, which is the second‒best year in the program’s history.

Tuitama earned All‒CCAA honors as a sophomore, junior and senior and ended her Cal State L.A. career No. 3 in set assists (4,246) and No. 2 in digs (1,326).

She is now a top high school volleyball coach and guided her La Salle High School team in Pasadena to a California Interscholastic Federation Division I‒A championship. She has been named the California Interscholastic Federation Coach of the Year two consecutive years.

She was presented for induction by her coach, former CSULA head coach Bill Lawler and by friend and former teammate Airess Padda.

“Being inducted into the CSULA Athletic Hall of Fame is quite an honor and has made me more determined to help the young men and women that I coach to follow their dreams to play at a higher level,” Tuitama said. “The friendships, teamwork and determination my four years as a Golden Eagle gave me were the best gifts of all.”

Betts (’78) was Cal State L.A.’s first national champion in women’s outdoor track and field when she captured the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women long jump championship in 1973. She also teamed with Jarvis Scott, Margo Tiff and Gloria Whitfield to capture the AIAW sprint medley relay title.

Betts’ best mark in the long jump of 20 ‒ 11.75 is still No. 3 on Cal State L.A.’s all‒time list.

She represented Cal State L.A. at the World University Games held in the Soviet Union in 1973 and placed 12th overall. In 1976, she was an alternate on the U.S. Olympic Team in the long jump. She continued to compete after graduating from Cal State L.A. in 1978 and competed in the 1980 Olympic Trials in Eugene, OR, where she missed placing in the final by just 1/8 of an inch. She continued to train for the 1984 Olympics until a hamstring injury forced her to retire from competition.

She was presented for induction by her former coach, Jan Seaman, and her brother, Russell.

“Dr. Seaman’s dedication to the team and her enthusiasm coupled with her understanding and support enabled me to move past some hard personal times and achieve many of my goals. I owe Dr. Seaman a great deal of gratitude,” Betts said. “I am very honored to be inducted into the CSULA Hall of Fame.”

The Cal State L.A. Athletics Hall of Fame was instituted in 1985 to honor the outstanding achievements of individuals who have participated in intercollegiate athletics at the University as student‒athletes, coaches, administrators or staff and who have brought honor to themselves, Cal State L.A. and their communities.

Members of the Athletics Hall of Fame are selected by a panel of Cal State L.A. staff and alumni. To be eligible for the Hall of Fame, a student‒athlete must be an alumnus of Cal State L.A. with a record of outstanding achievement in at least one sport. The student‒athlete must have graduated or attended in good standing at least five years ago.