For one day at least, Joe Mihalich will be back in the spotlight at Niagara University.
Mihalich was named to the NU 2021 Athletics Hall of Fame class on Tuesday, along with women's soccer star Brittany Bosnott, women's sports pioneer Kathryn Rafter and the 2001-02 women's ice hockey team.
Mihalich compiled the most head coaching wins in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference history (265) during his time leading Niagara men's basketball from 1998-2013. He led the Purple Eagles to two NCAA tournament appearances, three NIT appearances, two MAAC championships and four MAAC regular season titles. He was named the MAAC Coach of the Year three times and the National Association of Basketball Coaches District 1 Coach of the Year twice and was nationally the 2012-13 Skip Prosser Man of the Year.
Mihalich left Niagara for Hofstra after the 2012-13 season. He won 141 games in his five seasons, averaging over 22 per year. The Pride won three regular season Colonial Athletic Association titles, earned four postseason appearances and captured the 2019-20 CAA title for the program's first NCAA Tournament berth since 2001.
Ahead of the 2020-21 season, Hofstra announced Mihalich would take a medical leave of absence, which extended the entire season. On March 19, Hofstra announced Mihalich would transition to a new role as special advisor to the director of athletics.
Bisnott was an integral member of the Niagara women's soccer program from 2004-07. Bisnott was the 2007 MAAC Offensive Player of the Year and the 2004 MAAC Rookie of the Year. She finished her career at NU with 136 points and 60 goals, which both rank third in program history. Bisnott was a First Team Academic All-America honoree and, in 2008, was one of 58 NCAA student-athletes to be awarded educational grants through the NCAA postgraduate scholarship program.
Rafter helped lead the initiative to have women's sports officially sanctioned at NU and was a member of the women's basketball program from 1971-75. In 1974, Rafter became the first female student-athlete elected to the Athletics Advisory Council which helped implement Title IX. She has continued to be a generous benefactor of the Purple Eagles women's basketball program and Niagara University. Rafter was inducted to the MAAC Honor Roll in 2015.
The 2001-02 women's ice hockey team advanced to the semifinals of the Frozen Four and tied Minnesota, 2-2, in the third-place game. The Purple Eagles went 26-8-2 overall and 19-2-0 in conference play and were the ECAC regular season champions. Niagara had an impressive home record, going 15-2 overall and 11-0 in conference in games played at Dwyer Arena. On the season, Niagara averaged 3.82 goals per game and allowed just 1.41 goals per game.
The Class of '21 inductions will be held Dec. 4. More information, including ticketing, will be announced at a later date.