USC's Dick Nunis Named To Academic All-America Hall of Fame
March 27, 2014
Dick Nunis, who led the USC football team in interceptions in 1951 and was a member of the Trojans' Rose Bowl champions the following year before rising up the ranks of Walt Disney Attractions to become its chairman, has been named one of five new inductees into the Capital One Academic All-America Hall of Fame, selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America.
Nunis is USC's third Academic All-America Hall of Famer, along with quarterback Pat Haden and swimmer John Naber.
Joining Nunis in the 2014 class are football players Derrick Brooks of Florida State and Tiki Barber of Virginia, California gymnast Dr. Sigall Bell and Bently soccer player Terry Carleton. They will be inducted at CoSIDA's annual convention in Orlando, Fla., on June 9.
A member of the first Academic All-America team in 1952, Nunis led the 1951 Trojans in interceptions with six as a sophomore. The following season, he helped USC to a 10-1 overall record that included a 7-0 victory over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. In the second-to-last game before that Rose Bowl triumph, however, Nunis saw his playing career come to an end when he suffered a broken neck in the third quarter of the Trojans' 14-12 triumph over cross town rival UCLA.
"My injury, at the time, seemed a real tragedy," he said later. "It turned out to be the best accident of my life."
After earning a bachelor's degree in education from USC in 1954, Nunis got in on the ground floor of a new venture in the Southern California region, the opening of Disneyland. He began as an hourly employee in 1955 and worked his way up to become Director of Operations in 1961 and later Vice President of Operations in 1968. He assumed the position of president of Walt Disney Attractions in 1980 and was named chairman in 1991, and for many years he was widely considered as Walt Disney's right-hand man. During his tenure, Disney grew from a company of 600 "cast members" to employing 13,000 people. Dick retired as chairman of Walt Disney Attractions in 1998 after 44 years with the company.
An active and visible member of the central Florida community, Nunis sits on the boards of several organizations and is director of Give Kids the World, a non-profit center for terminally ill children. He served as charter chairman of the University of Central Florida's Board of Trustees for four years and was instrumental in the construction of UCF's on-campus football stadium and basketball arena.