Veteran sports figures named to the OTS Sports Wall of Fame

Posted July 12, 2013 9:45 am | Filed under Featured, Local News, News

The “Voice of the Rock Hill Bearcats” along with a pioneer broadcaster known throughout his career as “the Old Corn Merchant” have become the latest sports personalities elected to the OTS Sports Wall of Fame. Gene Knight, nicknamed “the Dean” by his peers, will join the late Harper Gault as members of the fourth class of the prestigious group of local broadcasters that have made enduring contributions to sports broadcasting both locally and nationally.

Knight was an all-star athlete and stand-out quarterback for the York High Green Dragons, and began broadcasting in 1980 at WBZK/WDZK radio in York. Gene was football color commentator for Chester High School for six years, and then was appointed the play-by-play voice for the York Cougars where he served until 1998. After a two-year hiatus, he joined the OTS Media Group in 2000 as football and basketball commentator for Rock Hill High. He was promoted to play-by-play for the Bearcats and has served in that capacity since 2008. Knight has broadcast five high school state championships, six Shrine Bowl Cable Telecasts and did play-by-play for the 2006 Women’s ACC basketball tournament. Gene was named with Steven Stone as the Carolina’s Best Radio Sports Team in 2007. Knight is a frequent commentator on the OTS Sport Network’s High School Football Tonight and has hosted his own Friday Knights’ Losers prediction show online since 2010.

Harper Gault was a true broadcast pioneer who started his career in the 1930s as a news/sports writer for the Evening Herald and helped launch Clemson’s IPTAY athletic booster club. Gault foresaw the commercial appeal of live sports on the radio and advanced his career to broadcasting in 1948, as a co-owner of WRHI. One of his first ventures was working with two Greenville area stations to develop a radio network to air his beloved Clemson Tigers football games. Within five years the network grew to over a dozen stations. (WRHI, now part of Clemson’s 24 station network, observes 65 years with the University in 2013.)  During a 30-year Radio career, Harper became a beloved personality in York County and was known as a strong advocate of high school and college athletes.  Harper Gault retired in 1977 and died in 1989 at the age of 83.  His memory is honored annually with the awarding of the “Harper Gault Sports Scholarship” by the York County Clemson Club.

In recognition of his strong support and help in establishing the Rock Hill Country Club, an adjacent street was renamed “Harper Gault Road.”

Since the 1940s and the advent of broadcasting in York and Lancaster counties, WRHI and the OTS Media Group have chartered an unprecedented record of 68 consecutive seasons of live sports broadcasting. The stations’ pioneering innovations include the first live broadcast coverage for area high schools and colleges and South Carolina’s first play-by-play game coverage heard worldwide via the internet. Since 2010, OTS has celebrated their rich sports heritage by honoring the legacy of broadcasters from their associated stations with induction into the OTS Sports Wall of Fame.

A secret vote from the station’s 22-member sports staff plus previous living inductees and an on-line determine the top honorees for induction. Previous OTS Wall of Fame inductees include:

  • Class of 2010: Jim Estes & Charles Kuralt (1947-1953), Connie Morton (1949-1971), Steven Stone (1999-2007 & 2013 – present) and Greg Bunce (1997-2003)
  • Class of 2011: Dennis Partlow (1972-1981) & Bill Rice (1987-1994)
  • Class of 2012:  Scott Wells (1992-present) & M.H. Carroll (1951-1971).

2013 inductees Knight and Gault will be honored throughout the season including a special live segment during High School Football Tonight and a tribute on the field at the Rock Hill-Northwestern game on November 8.