Lipira, Smith headed to HOF

Two Missouri Southern icons have been named to the 2011 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Hall of Fame class.

Former Southern and NFL wide receiver Rod Smith will be inducted alongside Dr. Pat Lipira who coached the Lions’ volleyball team from 1981-87 as well as the softball team from 1982-00.

“This year having Rod Smith and Dr. Pat Lipira [inducted] is fantastic,” Director of Athletics Jared Bruggeman said. “Of course, what Rod Smith has done in his career is amazing.

“That’s not going to be the only Hall of Fame he’s going to be inducted into in the process. But it sure reflects well on Missouri Southern.”

According to, Smith, a long-time Denver Broncos standout, compiled 71 career touchdowns in his 12-year NFL career. He also made three Pro-Bowls and racked up 11,389 career receiving yards.

“He’s done well not only on the athletic field,” Bruggeman said. “But he’s done well in the business world. He’s got multiple degrees from Southern. I mean, he’s the epitome of what you look at as far as being a great student-athlete.”

Lipira, now the head of the Kinesiology Department at Southern, led her 1992 softball team to an NCAA Division-II National Championship as well as six regional tournament berths, with two championships and four conference titles.

“That’s what’s really neat,” Bruggeman said. “Dr. Lipira, after retiring from coaching, going and teaching and becoming a chair of the department. It goes to show their love for Missouri Southern and shows I think their dedication and appreciation they have for what they received here, and certainly we appreciate everything they do.”

The class of 2011 will be formally inducted at the annual MIAA Awards Dinner at 7 p.m. June 9, at the Downtown Marriot in Kansas City.