The Tennessee Sports Writers Association announced its Hall of Fame class for 2021 on Thursday, which includes Larry Taft (Nashville), Maurice Patton (Nashville/Columbia) and George Starr (Cleveland). The 2021 induction ceremony is scheduled for July 8 at Cumberland University, with Taft, Patton and Starr joining the Class of 2020 (Tommy Bryan, Teresa Walker, Mark Wiedmer).
MAURICE PATTON, The Tennessean/Columbia Daily Herald
The Franklin native entered sports journalism as a student at Middle Tennessee State University, writing part-time for the (Murfreesboro) Daily News Journal.
Patton’s first full-time position came in 1987 as half of a two-person sports department at his hometown newspaper, The Review Appeal. He joined The Tennessean in 1990 covering high schools, the Nashville Sounds (1994-2008), the University of Tennessee (1995-97), MTSU (1997-99), Tennessee State (1999-2006) and Vanderbilt (2006-09). He covered the 1995 College World Series, the 1996 and ’97 Women’s Final Four, the 1997 NBA Draft, the 2000 Super Bowl, numerous SEC men’s and women’s basketball tournaments and three bowl games along with three spring training assignments. He was an Associated Press Top 25 poll voter for football and women’s basketball. He operated a Midstate high school sports website, MoPattonSports.com, for two years before being named sports editor at the Columbia Daily Herald in 2016. Patton is currently editor for Southern Middle Tennessee Sports, a digital platform focused on coverage of local high school athletics, and co-host of the sports talk radio show Southern Middle Tennessee Sports Today. The Tennessee Sports Writers Association's longtime treasurer, he ranks the opportunity to cover all three state wrestling tournaments (2012-14) in which his son participated – placing fourth in the latter two – as one of his career highlights.
GEORGE STARR, Cleveland/Lee University
A native of Athens, Starr began his career as sports editor at the Daily Post Athenian in Athens for four years. He worked as the sports editor at the Cleveland Daily Banner before becoming a sports writer at the Chattanooga Free-Press for four years. Starr returned to the Cleveland Daily Banner for 13 years, first as sports editor before being named managing and executive editors. He went to Lee University in 1997 as sports information director. He has served as the voice of Lee University basketball and baseball programs for 36 years and continued to work at the Banner during many of his years at Lee. He covered eight NCCAA national championships, four consecutive NAIA Women’s Soccer national championships and traveled to Lewiston, Idaho, for eight NAIA World Series. After Lee transitioned from NAIA to NCAA Division II, Starr covered three Gulf South Conference championships as well as deep postseason runs in several other sports. He guided the publicity of Lee’s transition from the NAIA to NCAA Division II in 2012 and produced numerous award-winning NAIA and CoSIDA media guides. In the beginning of the Lee athletic website, Starr directed the content of the website and led efforts to provide live stats and live streaming for all home volleyball, soccer, basketball, baseball and softball games. Starr is a member of the Bradley County Sports Hall of Fame, Lee Athletics Hall of Fame and Greater Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame.
LARRY TAFT, The Tennessean
Taft has worked for the Knoxville News-Sentinel, The Democrat-Union in Lawrenceburg and The Tennessean, primarily covering high school sports for nearly 40 years. He covered his first boys’ state basketball tournament in 1973 and his first football championship in 1974. In the 1980s, Taft started a weekly football wrap-up complete with district standings used in newspapers statewide. Taft also covered the Nashville Sounds for many years, traveling to cover road games. He served as director of media relations at the TSSAA for 16 months before returning to The Tennessean. Taft was sports editor of The Tennessean for five years before leaving in 2012. He is a 2011 inductee into the TSSAA Hall of Fame as a contributor. He currently is a board member and secretary-treasurer of the College Football Hall of Fame's Middle Tennessee chapter, and earlier this year he was selected by the organization as a recipient of its prestigious Roy Kramer Contribution to Football Award. Larry and his wife, Dinah, have four sons and nine grandchildren.