Brad Babcock was among college baseball's top coaches while directing the Dukes' program for 19 seasons (1971-89). He compiled a 558-251-4 (.689) record and led the Dukes to five NCAA Tournament appearances, including in 1983 when JMU became the first (and still only) Virginia team to compete in the College World Series.
Babcock joined the JMU staff in the fall of 1970 and also was an assistant football coach, junior varsity basketball coach, intramural director and physical education instructor early in his JMU tenure. As baseball coach, he took the Dukes from a fledgling second-year program in 1971 to being one of the more-highly-respected programs in the East. His second JMU team was his only non-winning squad; 12 of his teams won 30 or more games; and three won 40 or more games. Of his last 14 teams, 12 won 30 or more games.
His 1976 team played in the NCAA Division II Tournament, and his 1980, 1981, 1983 and 1988 teams played in the NCAA Division I Tournament. The 1983 team advanced to the College World Series by compiling a 4-0 record in the Eastern Regional, and 30 of his players signed professional baseball contracts, including Dana Allison and Billy Sample, who played in the major leagues.
Babcock assumed a position in JMU's athletic administration after relinquishing his baseball duties.
Sydney Beasley ('88)
Sydney Beasley completed a stellar college career in the spring of 1988, then became the only player in JMU basketball history to be invited to the U.S. Olympic Trials. She went on to a professional career, with stints in Spain and Japan, becoming the only JMU women's player to play professionally.
She was a member of the 1985 U.S. Junior National Team that placed fifth in the FIBA World Championships and played in the 1983 and 1985 U.S. Olympic Festivals. She was named a preseason All-America by Street & Smith, Blue Ribbon Yearbook and the Women's Basketball News Service (1987) and was twice named an American Women Sports Federation All-America (1987, 1988).
Voted the Player of the Decade (1985-95) in the Colonial Athletic Association, Beasley was selected CAA Player of the Year, CAA Tournament Most Valuable Player and first team All-CAA in both her JMU seasons (1987, 1988). She was a two-time Kodak All-District III selection (1987, 1988) and the only player in JMU history to be named to that prestigious team. Beasley was selected the Division I Player of the Year in Virginia and first team all-state by the Virginia Sports Information Directors Association in 1988.
Beasley scored 1,046 points in her two JMU seasons and had a four-year career total of 1,412 points. Her season scoring totals of 551 (1987-88) and 545 (1986-87) points rank first and second, respectively, on JMU's all-time list. She also holds school season records for field goals (234) and field goal percentage (59.3) and the career record for field goal accuracy (55.2). Beasley led JMU in scoring (17.6, 17.8) and rebounding (7.5, 8.1) in 1986-87 and 1987-88.
On the Dukes' career lists she ranks second in field goals (576), fourth in scoring, fourth in steals (192), fifth in scoring average (13.4), sixth in free throws (260), sixth in rebounds (709) and ninth in rebounding average (6.8).
The Dukes were 54-8, won two CAA championships and advanced to the NCAA "Sweet Sixteen" in Beasley's two seasons.
Floretta Jackson ('87)
Point guard Floretta Jackson guided the Dukes to Top 20 national ranking, two Colonial Athletic Association championships and two trips to the NCAA "Sweet 16" as she helped put the Dukes' basketball program on the map.
The Dukes compiled a 90-30 record during Jackson's four seasons, rising from a 13-15 record her freshman year (1984) to a 22-7 record her sophomore season (1985). JMU broke into the Associated Press Top 20 the following season, in which the Dukes won the 1986 CAA title and received its first NCAA Tournament invitation. JMU upset regionally top-ranked Virginia in the NCAA second round to advance to the round of 16 and finished the year with a 28-4 record, setting a school record for wins. In 1987 the Dukes rose to a program-high 12th in the AP poll, won a second CAA championship and again advanced to the NCAA round of 16 before falling to top-ranked and defending national champion Texas.
Jackson was co-captain of the 1985 U.S. Junior National Team that placed fifth in the FIBA World Championships and was co-captain of the silver-medalist East Team at the 1985 U.S. Olympic Festival. She was named a preseason All-America by the Women's Basketball News Service (1986) and was twice named an American Women Sports Federation All-America (1986, 1987).
A two-time CAA first team selection (1986, 1987), Jackson was named to the CAA's All-Decade Team (1985-95). She was a CAA All-Tournament Team and All-Defensive Team member in 1987 and was twice named to the American Women's Sports Federation All-Mideast Region Team (1986, 1987).
JMU's career assist leader with 560, Jackson also holds the Dukes' season assist record of 173. She ranks second on the career steals list with 235. Jackson scored 1,111 career points and averaged 9.3 points per game for her career.
Linton Townes ('82)
Linton Townes was the captain and most valuable player on JMU's most-successful men's basketball team, the Dukes' 1981-82 squad that was 24-6 and reached the second round of the NCAA Eastern Regional. As a senior in 1981-82 he averaged a team-leading 16.3 points per game and was the player of the year in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) South, which became the Colonial Athletic Association. JMU beat Ohio State in its NCAA opener before losing 52-50 to North Carolina's eventual national championship team that included future professional first-round draft choices Michael Jordan, James Worthy and Sam Perkins.
Townes completed his career with 1,380 points, 507 rebounds and 191 assists, and at the time was among only three Dukes with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 100 assists in a career. He was the Portland Trail Blazers' second-round selection (33rd player chosen) in the 1982 National Basketball Association draft, and he played several seasons in the NBA and several more abroad.
When inducted into JMU's Sports Hall of Fame, Townes still ranked in the top 10 among all JMU players in scoring, field goals made (614) and shooting percentage (.557). His career shooting percentage mark was the best among perimeter players in the history of the JMU program. Townes' 15.3 scoring average also was the best on JMU's 1980-81 team that was 21-9, won the ECAC South Tournament and reached the second round of NCAA play.
Bernard Slayton ('77)
A four-year letterman, Bernard Slayton was among the top players early in the JMU football program's history. He ran for 2,161 yards and 21 touchdowns in four seasons and is sixth on JMU's career rushing list. A tailback, Slayton led JMU in rushing in 1973 and 1974 before being slowed by a shoulder injury in 1975. He was the team most valuable player, an honorable mention All-America and a first-team All-Virginia College Athletic Association choice in 1974 when he ran for 873 yards and nine touchdowns. He ran for 395 yards and four scores despite missing five games in 1975 and for 656 yards and five touchdowns in 1976.