Former Western Kentucky football player and assistant coach Romeo Crennel has been selected as part of the Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2021, the Louisville Sports Commission announced Thursday.

Crennel is part of a six-member class that also includes John Asher – a WKU graduate – and Dwane Casey – a former WKU men’s basketball assistant coach – as well as Rachel Komisarv Baugh, Keith Madison and Elmore Smith.

The six class members “represent a broad spectrum of sports and occupations – individuals who had a major impact on sports in the commonwealth and on the national and international stage,” Louisville Sports Commission President and CEO Karl F. Schmitt Jr. said in a news release.

Crennel went to WKU as a walk-on in 1965 and redshirted his first year before becoming a four-year starter for the Hilltoppers from 1966-69. WKU went 25-11-3 during that stretch.

He was one of WKU’s top defensive players his first three seasons and was chosen as a team captain as a senior, but he moved from his place on the defensive line to become an offensive tackle that season with the offense struggling. Crennel earned team MVP honors that season.

Crennel served as a graduate assistant at WKU in 1970 before taking the defensive line coaching role from 1971-74.

He also served as an assistant at Texas Tech, Mississippi and Georgia Tech from 1975-80 before moving to the NFL in 1981 when he joined the New York Giants as a special assignments/special teams/defensive assistant coach. Now serving as a senior adviser for football performance for the Houston Texans, Crennel is entering his 39th year in the NFL. He was head coach with the Cleveland Browns for four seasons and also held interim head coaching roles as Kansas City and Houston.

Crennel has been a defensive coordinator for five Super Bowl victories – two with the Giants (1986 and 1990) and three with New England (2001, 2003 and 2004). He was named the NFL Assistant Coach of the Year in 2003 by the Pro Football Writers of America. Crennel is also a member of the WKU Hall of Distinguished Alumni and the WKU Athletic Hall of Fame.

Asher obtained a bachelor’s degree in journalism from WKU in 1990 and was a sports journalist and public relations expert who parlayed an award-winning career in radio news into a public relations position at Churchill Downs. Asher died in August 2018 at age 62.

Asher worked in radio news for three decades, earned five Thoroughbred racing Eclipse Awards and the Scripps Howard National Headliner Award while at WAVE and WHAS radio stations in Louisville the 1980s and 1990s. He was named The Associated Press Large Market Reporter of the Year in Kentucky seven times. He was a play-by-play announcer for basketball, baseball and horse racing, including stints with the Louisville Redbirds, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Boys’ Sweet Sixteen and Latonia Racetrack. For 20 years (1997-2018), he was one of the most important public relations professionals in thoroughbred racing, rising to the level of vice president of racing information at Churchill Downs while earning numerous awards for his work in the industry.

Asher was inducted into WKU’s Hall of Distinguished Alumni in 2020.

Casey, a Union County High School graduate, served as an assistant coach for the Hilltoppers under head coach Clem Haskins in two stints between 1981-86.

He was a captain of the 1978 Kentucky basketball team that won the school’s fifth NCAA title and spent six years as an assistant at the school.

Casey, the current head coach of the Detroit Pistons, has had a long career as both an assistant and head coach in the NBA, including tenures as the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Toronto Raptors. He was named NBA Coach of the Year in 2018 with Toronto and also won an NBA title with the Mavericks in 2009 as an assistant.

Madison, a Brownsville native, was head baseball coach at Kentucky for 25 years (1979-2003), leading the Wildcats to 737 wins – the third-most in SEC history when he retired and second-most wins for any coach in any sport in school history behind Adolph Rupp. Madison coached 17 players who eventually played in the majors. In 1999, he was pitching coach for Team USA, in 2007 he was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame and in 2013 earned the Lefty Gomez Lifetime Achievement Award for contributions to amateur baseball. Madison is a former president of the ABCA and currently chairman of the board.

Komisarz Baugh set five program individual event records and four relay records while swimming for Kentucky. She won SEC titles in the 200-yard butterfly, 500- and 1,650-yard freestyle and was SEC Swimmer of the Year and won the SEC Commissioner’s Trophy. She won the 100-meter butterfly at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials, and at the ensuing Olympic Games in Athens and she was a member of the U.S. 4x200-meter freestyle relay team that won the gold medal and 4x100-meter medley relay team that won silver. Komisarz won 23 medals during her career while representing the U.S. in international competition. She set American records in the 50- and 100-meter butterfly, was a member of the American record-setting relays in the 400- and 800-meter freestyle and 400-meter medley, with the medley relay team also setting a world record. Komisarz Baugh was an assistant coach at UofL for five years (2009-2014) and helped build the Cardinals into an elite women’s program. Currently, she is the associate director for Aspirnaut in Nashville, a nonprofit associated with the Vanderbilt University Medical Center whose mission is to increase STEM achievement and the numbers and diversity of the STEM workforce.

Known as “The Rejector” for his skill at blocking shots, Smith led KSU to NAIA national championships in 1970 and 1971, set a national record for rebounds in a season in 1971 with 799 and averaged 22.3 points per game for his KSU career. He was named first team NAIA All-American in his final year and was the no. 3 overall pick in the 1971 NBA draft by the Buffalo Braves. He played eight seasons in the NBA, two each with the Braves, Lakers, Bucks and Cavaliers, averaging 13.4 points, 10.6 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game for his career. He was named to the NBA All-Rookie team in 1971-72, set a season record for blocked shots with 397 in 1973-74, set a single-game record with 17 blocks against Portland in 1973 that still stands today and had the rare distinction of blocking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s sky hook.

A selection committee comprised of 15 sports media professionals from throughout the commonwealth selected this year’s class. The class members and their families will be honored Sept. 7 at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville.{&end}