Mike ‘Pinball’ Clemons to receive honourary degree from University of Guelph

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Mike ‘Pinball’ Clemons will soon receive an honourary degree from the University of Guelph. The institution gives honourary degrees to celebrate those whose accomplishments “have inspired the U of G community.”

The 59-year-old played 12 seasons with the Toronto Argonauts from 1989 to 2000 as a star running back, slotback, and return specialist. He was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player in 1993, a two-time league all-star, three-time East Division all-star, and won the Tom Pate Memorial Award in 1996.

Clemons recorded 25,438 all-purpose yards over his long career, which remains a CFL record. He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2008, the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 2009, Canada’s Sport Hall of Fame in 2016, and his No. 31 is retired by the Argonauts.

The native of Dunedin, Fla. served two stints as Toronto’s head coach, posting a record of 67-54-1. In 2004, he became the first Black head coach ever to win a Grey Cup. He also served as the team’s chief executive officer in 2008, vice chairman from 2009 to 2019, and general manager from 2019 to the present.

In total, Clemons has won seven Grey Cups, including three as a player, one as a head coach, two as vice chairman, and one as general manager. He also helped establish literacy programs, scholarships, bursaries, and employment opportunities for youth through The Pinball Clemons Foundation.

Clemons was also instrumental in bringing the Argonauts back to the University of Guelph for training camp. Toronto has used the school’s facilities for training camp every season since 2021, in 2016, and several times during the 1980s and 1990s. The club has played all of its home preseason games at Alumni Stadium in Guelph since 2018.

Guelph’s convocation ceremonies will be held from June 11 to 14 with close to 4,000 students registered to attend alongside more than 15,000 family members and guests.

Those who will be honoured alongside Clemons are: Zanana L. Akande, a former educator who became the first Black woman to be elected to the legislature and appointed a cabinet minister in the province of Ontario; Isabel Bassett, who received the Order of Ontario and Order of Canada for her contributions to social justice and women’s issues; Dr. Vaikuntam Iyer Lakshmanan, who has worked extensively in metallurgy, entrepreneurship, public policy, philanthropy, and community welfare; and Dr. Ottoline Leyser, a development biologist at the University of Cambridge who has made revolutionary discoveries in plant hormone signaling.