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September 29, 2021

Shawnee State University will induct four former athletes into its SSU Athletic Hall of Fame on Friday, Oct. 1. Making up the induction Class of 2021 is Jason Burcham (’00), Vernita Provitt-Lyons (’99), Michael Owen (’11), and Tara Walker Pendell (’06).

Graphic with the text "SSU Hall of Fame"

A standout on the mound, Jason Burcham played four years for the SSU Baseball team and was a member of the 2000 NAIA World Series Team that finished fifth at the tournament. During that campaign, Burcham led the Bears on the mound, posting a 12-2 overall record with a 2.71 ERA in 16 starts and 18 pitching appearances. He struck out 57 batters and walked just 24 while throwing seven complete games. In 2000, he earned First-Team All-American Mideast Conference and Honorable Mention NAIA All-American status. During his career he won 20 games on the mound and led the Bears to a 147-58-1 overall record during his four seasons. He is SSU’s all-time leader in pitching wins in a season (12) and is second in starts in a season (16). Burcham is a Springfield, Ohio native and a 2000 graduate of SSU.

Vernita Provitt-Lyons was a standout player for the SSU Women’s Basketball team. She played three years for the Bears, guiding them to consecutive Mid-Ohio Regular Season and Tournament Championships and three NAIA Tournament Appearances. During her career she led SSU to an overall record of 85-11, averaging 17.1 points and 7.9 rebounds per game while shooting 59.4% from the field. She was a two-time First-Team All-Mid-Ohio Conference honoree and was named Third-Team NAIA All-American in the 1995-96 season and First-Team All-American in the 1996-97 season. She still holds the Bears’ record for all-time leader in free throws made (181) and attempted (257) in a season (1995-96) and is second in program history in career scoring average (17.1 points per game). Provitt-Lyons is a Warren, Ohio native and graduated from SSU in 1999.

Michael Owen was an outstanding runner for SSU and a member of the Bears’ most successful Cross Country teams as well as the start of the university’s Track & Field program. In Cross Country, Owen was a three-time NAIA National Qualifier and three-time NAIA Scholar Athlete. He led the Bears to three top-15 national finishes in 2008, 2009, and 2010 and helped the Bears to their best-ever finishes including a 4th place finish in 2009 and 2010. In 2010, he was the Mid-South Conference Runner-Up. In Track, Owen became the school record holder in the marathon. He placed third in 2011 in the NAIA National Championships in the marathon, earning NAIA All-American status, the program’s first All-American honor. Owen is a Pomeroy, Ohio native and graduated from SSU in 2011.

Tara Walker Pendell excelled in three sports during her career at SSU. Best known for her play on the Women’s Basketball court for four seasons, Pendell led the team to a 98-34 overall record and three NAIA National Tournament appearances. She averaged 11.6 points and six rebounds per game, shooting 61.9% from the floor. She was named First-Team All-American Mideast Conference in 2005 as well as in 2006 when she was also named Honorable Mention NAIA All-American. In Softball, she played four years and hit .288 during her career with four home runs, 40 RBIs, and committed just four errors in 98 defensive chances. She earned Honorable Mention All-AMC honors in 2005. She played one year for the Women’s Soccer team, starting in goal each of the 10 games she played in and making 76 saves, with two shutouts in 754 minutes played. A native of Hillsboro, Ohio, Pendell graduated from SSU in 2006.

The Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 1 in the Eloise Covert Smith Theater of the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts. A social will follow afterwards in the Selby Lobby. Tickets to the induction ceremony are $25 and can be purchased beforehand at