Illini start sports Hall of Fame, Dick Butkus in 1st class

Pro Football Hall of Famer Dick Butkus in 2012. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

Pro Football Hall of Famer Dick Butkus in 2012. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The University of Illinois is forming the school’s first Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame and a member of its first class will be former Chicago Bears great Dick Butkus.

The school’s athletic department made the announcement Thursday morning. The entire inaugural class will be announced in February and recognized at a dinner in Chicago next summer. There also will be an induction ceremony in Champaign-Urbana next September.

Butkus is an Illini graduate who played on the school’s 1963 Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl teams. He said in a statement that he’s always been proud to be an Illini and that the school has played an “extremely important role” in his life.

Butkus played linebacker for the Chicago Bears from 1965 to 1973, including in eight Pro Bowls.