news-category: Athletics

Gardner-Webb Announces 2023 Hall of Fame Class and Special Recognitions

a collage of photosof the hall of fame and honorees

Jesse James, Joan Cline Backhous, and Marc Rabb Honored

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Gardner-Webb University has announced the 2023 Athletics Hall of Fame class.

Jesse James (1985-87) will be the newest induction into the Hall of Fame, while Joan Cline Backhaus (1957-59) will be posthumously recognized for her induction at last year’s Hall of Fame ceremony. Long time Sports Information Director Marc Rabb will also be recognized.

The inductees will also be honored during the Saturday’s football game vs. UT Martin. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. in Spangler Stadium.

Bios for the Hall of Fame inductees and those being recognized are below:

Jesse James, Football, 1985-87

Jesse James is the lone inductee for the 2023 Gardner-Webb Hall of Fame class. The former GWU quarterback suited up for the Runnin’ Bulldogs from 1985-1987. In his final season in Boiling Springs, James guided Gardner-Webb to an 11-2 record and a SAC-8 Championship. Gardner-Webb also won its first-ever NAIA Playoff game, defeating Moorhead State 27-7. James earned first-team all-conference honors that season, and passed for 3,833 career yards and 28 touchdowns in three seasons in the red and black.

Joan Cline Backhaus, Women’s Basketball, 1957-59

Joan Cline Backhaus was a two-time All-State selection during Gardner-Webb’s junior college years. She averaged 34 points per game as a Runnin’ Bulldog and also served as a GWU cheerleader. She once scored 72 points in a high school game and was known for her dominating presence on the court as a team leader. Backhaus earns the hall of fame honor posthumously, having been inducted last year.

Marc Rabb, Sports Information, 1995-2023

Marc Rabb was named the winner of the Chuck Burch Meritorious Service Award. Rabb was the head of the Athletic Communications department at Gardner-Webb for 28 years from 1995-2023. During his time at GWU, Rabb helped oversee Gardner-Webb’s transition to Division-I competition, while helping tell the stories of numerous Gardner-Webb athletes, championships, and hall of famers.

The honorees will be recognized at the annual Hall of Fame Gala at the Tucker Student Center on the campus of Gardner-Webb University on Friday, Oct. 27.

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Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

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