Former All-Americans Mike Ventura ’95 (track, 1993–95) and Yun Qu ’05 (swimming, 2001–04) along with 20-year athletics director Joel Thirer (1989–2009) were inducted into the 2011 Hall of Fame class during Homecoming.
Ventura was an elite thrower, earning a pair of All-America track and field honors between 1994-95. He excelled at the discus, javelin and shot put. Ventura placed fourth in the javelin at the 1994 NCAA Division III Outdoor Championship and took sixth in the discus at the 1995 national meet. He also placed seventh in the shot at the 1994 NCAA Indoor Championship. Ventura was a three-time SUNYAC and three-time New York state champion and was named the Most Outstanding Athlete at the 1994 New York State Championship. He was selected as the University’s John Bilos Award winner in 1995.
Qu was the most-decorated recruit in the department’s history when she arrived from China in 2001 with a resume that included eight years of experience with the Chinese National Team. She placed fourth in the 200 fly at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and was ranked among the top 10 swimmers in the world in the butterfly events. In Binghamton’s first year as a Division I program, Qu became its first Division I All-American when she placed 13th in the 200 butterfly at the 2002 NCAA Championship. A two-time NCAA qualifier and scholar-athlete, Qu earned four America East titles and set seven school records in her three-year collegiate career. She was named the America East Most Outstanding Swimmer in 2002 and was the school’s Athlete of the Year that same year. She is currently an assistant coach at Binghamton.
During his 20-year tenure as director of athletics, Thirer transformed the department from a nondescript Division III program into the current expansive and flourishing Division I program with unprecedented campus, community and alumni support. His tireless efforts resulted in Binghamton being selected for membership in the America East Conference in 2001.
Along the way, he played a key role in numerous facility projects, including the strategic planning for the construction of the Events Center and Bearcat Sports Complex.
Thirer was named the Division I Athletic Director of the Year for the entire Northeast in 2007, and some of the more notable achievements during his tenure included winning back-to-back America East Academic Cup titles, hosting four America East basketball championship tournaments, and crowning nine NCAA individual champions, 93 All-Americans and 51 conference team champions. He also administered and expanded the scope of the health, physical education and recreation programs during his two decades of service.
A noted sports psychologist with a PhD from Florida State, Thirer currently teaches in Binghamton’s department of health and wellness studies.
The Binghamton University Athletics Hall of Fame was established in 1996, and this year’s class will bring the total number of members to 78.