Baylor’s RGIII, Snider Eppers honored in Texas Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2022

Famous Baylor athletes Robert Griffin III and Suzie Snider Eppers were inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame on March 12. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Michael Haag | Sports Writer

Baylor was represented on Saturday in the Texas Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2022, as former standout athletes Robert Griffin III and Suzie Snider Eppers had their names enshrined forever. The former Bears were among six other athletes, including notable names like Tony Parker, Chris Bosh and Bob Beamon.

Both RGIII and Snider Eppers reflected on their days in Waco and painted a picture of what it was like in their respective eras. One was Baylor football’s most electric player ever as the only Heisman winner in school history, while the other pioneered women’s sports in an unimaginable way, being the first female athlete to be on scholarship and later setting amazing records. Both had unique stories to tell and were proud of their collegiate days.

Robert Griffin III

Everyone at Baylor knows RGIII, especially given his statue outside of McLane Stadium. He helped put Waco and Baylor on the map in a positive light and brought national attention to a small Christian program.

“I remember the reaction videos after Baylor won its first Heisman,” Griffin III said. “We were all so excited that they no longer act[ed] like we didn’t exist. Baylor University is one of the best things that’s ever happened in my life.”

The religious aspect of Baylor was a major appeal to RGIII, along with the proximity to his hometown of Copperas Cove.

“My mom and dad raised me in the church,” Griffin III said. “Being a Christian and coming to a Baptist university felt like the natural thing to do. It’s also an hour away from where I grew up, so there’s some comfort there where I didn’t have to go too far away from home.”

Former Baylor football head coach Art Briles was a huge part in RGIII’s decision to commit. Briles promised the quarterback from Copperas Cove a Heisman trophy and a stadium on campus.

“He told me we could go somewhere and do something that has never been done before,” Griffin III said. “He also said, we’d get a stadium built on campus, and we were able to accomplish that. It was part of his recruiting pitch and he said in three years you’ll be up for the Heisman and win the Heisman by year four. Then he said before it’s all said and done, we’ll get the stadium on campus.”

It wasn’t a smooth experience for the 2011 Heisman winner, as he suffered an ACL tear in the 2009 season. For Griffin III, the biggest blessing out of adversity was finding his love for football.

“When I got hurt in 2009, I didn’t love football,” Griffin III said. “I came to Baylor to run track, play football and some people don’t know, but play basketball. Coach [Scott] Drew, we have a really great relationship. After that, I didn’t play any other sports. I didn’t run track again, I stopped my thought process of trying to go play basketball because I fell in love with the game once it was taken away from me.”

Griffin III said that point in his life was a low one, and he faltered in his faith a bit. Those doubts were shaped into a stronger belief as Griffin III saw God help guide him to a path of recovery and prosperity.

“Two weeks after [the injury] I was in shambles. I felt like I was doing everything right— cold tub, stretching, doing the extra work — and I still tore my ACL,” Griffin III said. “I had a really difficult time with my faith and saying, ‘God, why would you do this to me if I’m doing everything I’m supposed to be doing?’ After those two weeks, I made the decision for myself that God had a plan and I was going to follow that plan. And that’s what led to that comeback and being able to do all those great things with the people there to help me. So I don’t even really have one word to describe what it took to do that, but faith does sound pretty good.”

Suzie Snider Eppers

Snider Eppers was at Baylor when women’s sports was nowhere near what it’s like today. She experienced the growth of the program in her time on campus and compared aspiring female athletes to “Field of Dreams.”

“I did get to see us go from rags to riches in that program,” Snider Eppers said. “That means a lot to me, I saw girls that came to that program and we were like the “Field of Dreams” in the sense of if you build it then they will come. They didn’t come because they were getting a scholarship, they came because they wanted to go to Baylor and they came because they wanted to be part of something really exciting.”

The jump from high school to college was also an adjustment for Snider Eppers, who hadn’t played a full-court game of basketball until arriving at Baylor.

“I played three-on-three half-court basketball [in high school],” Snider Eppers said. “I went to Baylor and it was a full-court game, which I thoroughly loved. But I did have to learn another half of the game that I had never practiced.”

The times were so different to where she remembers the lack of effort shown on the court.

“I can remember, at Baylor, going to watch the first full-court five-on-five game, and during the game a girl sat down; she got tired,” Snider Eppers said. “I was like, ‘What are you doing? This isn’t good for the game. You can fake it some other way.’”

The former Bearette is proud to have been a transcendent athlete in the 1970s, noticing some of those changes in her time at Baylor.

“The women were making a move. It was happening; something was happening in the background,” Snider Eppers said. “That’s all I ever knew, I kept hearing about this Title IX — something was happening. Things were starting to change, and I was more than proud.”

Even four decades later, Snider Eppers would never back down from a challenge and is ready to compete whenever called upon.

“I love being told I can’t do something because I’m stubborn enough to prove to you that I can,” Snider Eppers said. “If you want me to go out right now and shoot baskets with you … I don’t have knees anymore, but I will go and I will show you that I can do that.”