Respected Four-Decade Officiating Veteran Ted Ruta Earns Induction into Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame
By Space Coast Daily // April 8, 2020
Throughout his career, Ruta has been an inspiration to athletes on and off the field
SPACE COAST DAILY TV: Ted Ruta, a universally respected four-decade officiating veteran, will be inducted into the Class of 2020 of the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame. (Florida Citrus Sports video)
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA (Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame) – Ted Ruta, a universally respected four-decade officiating veteran, will be inducted into the Class of 2020 of the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.
Ruta started his career in the 1960s in Titusville, Florida as a member of the Florida High School Activity Association created to officiate high school sports.
He officiated high school sports in Brevard County, including conference and state playoff games, from 1966-1982.
Additionally, Ruta officiated the Shirley Temple Softball League and the Hurricane Football League in the ’70s.
Throughout his career, Ruta has been an inspiration to athletes on and off the field.
One of his fondest memories is the Michigan versus Miami game in Ann Arbor in the ’80s when there were three athletes from Titusville on the field with him, including 2013 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame inductee Gerald White and Dave Chester playing for Michigan, and Kenny Calhoun playing for Miami.
In 2011, the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame announced that Ruta was the organization’s Outstanding Football Official Award honoree.
“Ted has long been a loyal custodian of the game of football,” said NFF president and CEO Steve Hatchell.
“His wealth of experience makes him one of the great officials we have in our game today.”
First bestowed in 1984, the award honors a collegiate official who has shown superior abilities in officiating and has demonstrated sportsmanship, integrity, and character in intercollegiate athletics and amateur football.
Ruta joined a list of distinguished previous honorees, becoming the award’s 30th recipient.
He has worked a total of 401 collegiate games during his legendary career, and he has had the honor of being called to officiate in 12 bowl games, including the 1999 Cotton Bowl, 1987 Orange Bowl, 1984 Sun Bowl, and the 2005 Champs Sports Bowl.
Ruta worked the landmark 1986 game that pitted No.1 Oklahoma against No. 2 Miami (Fla.) with the Hurricanes beating the Sooners 28-16.
He was a replay communicator for the first-ever Conference USA Championship game in 2005, and his many other career highlights include working the 2000 BCA Kickoff Classic and the classic rivalry between Army and Navy in 1996.
Ruta recently retired as a replay official for the Sun Belt Conference, a role he has fulfilled since 2005 and follows stints in Conference USA from 1996 to 2005 and the Atlantic Coast Conference from 1994 to 1995.
He began his career in 1967 as an official with the Florida High School Activity Association, where he remained until 1982.
During his tenure with the FHSAA, he simultaneously worked games for the Southern Professional Football League from 1967 to 1969 and the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference from 1971 to 1978.
He also claims more than a decade of experience officiating basketball, track and field and softball. Ruta has served on the Southern Independent Collegiate Officials Association Board of Directors.
He has held the titles of president and treasurer with the National Football Officials Alliance; president, secretary and commissioner with the Mid Coast Officials Association; and as president and treasurer of the Conference USA Football Officials Association.
In June 2018, Florida Citrus Sports selected Ruta as the 2018 recipient of the Howard Palmer Award, the organization’s highest service honor. Ruta became the 29th recipient of the award, following in the footsteps of notable past winners.
The Howard Palmer Award recognizes a “lifetime” of service to Florida Citrus Sports and is a tribute to an individual who continually strives to make significant contributions to the organization and its efforts without regard for personal recognition.
Ruta has been a member of Florida Citrus Sports since 1994. During bowl week, he coordinates the experience for officials calling the games, a role that won him a 2014-15 Volunteer of the Year award.
He is also a member of the Team Selection Committee and helped found the Gridiron Classic, a Florida vs. the Nation collegiate all-star game that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Buoniconti Fund (the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis) and Rotary Clubs from 1999 through 2005.
After leaving the field in 2004, Ruta has continued to host game officials and their families for the Champs Sports Bowl and the Capital One Bowl.
“Ted embodies the Howard Palmer Award in every single way,” Florida Citrus Sports CEO Steve Hogan said.
“You think about selfless service to this community and this organization — that’s Ted. When you look at the Rotary Club and the college all-star game, never once did you hear Ted stand up and say, ‘Look at me. I’m really responsible for this. This was my idea.’ He’s just over there working away, figuring out what he can do to help make that more and more successful, and he’s been that way throughout his entire career here at Florida Citrus Sports.”
SPACE COAST DAILY TV: Ted Ruta, a universally respected four-decade officiating veteran, has been nominated for consideration into the Class of 2020 of the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame. (Florida Citrus Sports video)
Beyond his officiating duties, Ruta owns Horizon Resorts, Inc., in Titusville, Fla. A member of Rotary International since 1978, he served as the president (2001-2002) of the Titusville Rotary Club and is a three-time Paul Harris Fellow, an honor bestowed on the club’s leaders.
Ruta served on the board of directors of the Parish Medical Center, a public not-for-profit hospital, in Titusville for 13 years, including eight years as the chairman. Ruta holds two bachelor’s degrees from Florida State, and he and his wife Charlotte currently live in Titusville.
They have four children, nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild; his love and dedication to his family parallel the love and dedication that he has had for sports throughout his life.
Ruta has given selflessly and made a difference on and off the field and devoted his life to contributing to improving high school and college sports in the Space Coast community as well as throughout the United States.
SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME HONORS BREVARD’S RICH SPORTS HISTORY: The Space Coast Daily– Friday Night Locker Room Team is Brevard’s #1 Sports Source
For more than a century, athletes from Brevard County have been considered among the finest in America and their accomplishments are honored and immortalized by the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.
Space Coast Daily created the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame in 2011 and inducted its first class in 2012 and has so far inducted more than 150 of Brevard’s most outstanding athletes, coaches and sports personalities.
MEMBERS INDUCTED IN FOUR CATEGORIES
Nominees are chosen in four categories including professional sports, college sports, high school sports and amateur-rec sports. Special honorary recognition is also be bestowed upon individuals and groups that have made significant contributions to sports on the Space Coast.
A special committee will select the Class of 2020, and the inductees will be enshrined in the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame on Friday, May 8, 2019.
Serving on the 2020 committee are Space Coast Daily President and Publisher Tom Palermo, Vice President Giles Malone, Editor-in-Chief Dr. Jim Palermo, Managing Editor Zach Clark, Senior Editor Chris Bonanno, Assistant Editor Jordan Rocco, Friday Night Locker Room co-founders Steve Wilson and Orville Susong, former Health First COO Larry Garrison and Amateur Athletic Union Vice President Rusty Buchanan.
“The list of potential and deserving candidates for 2019 induction include athletes and coaches everybody knows – and some that may have been forgotten with the passing of time,” said Tom Palermo.
VENUE TO PAY TRIBUTE
Susong has been watching and covering sports on the Space Coast for more than 25 years and has interviewed many of the area’s outstanding athletes on the Friday Night Locker Room.
“It’s amazing how many outstanding athletes have come from Brevard County,” said Susong.
Susong and Wilson were inducted into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame in 2015 and have been broadcasting youth and high school sports for more than 20 years.
“We receive nominations for athletes that competed 30, 40, or even 50 years ago – it’s satisfying to be able to recognize these individuals who have been forgotten but made an indelible mark on sports on the Space Coast,” said Malone.
Avid sports fan, Dr. Jim Palermo, said, “I consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity to live and work in Brevard County for more than 36 years, during which time I’ve had the pleasure of watching and following so many superlative athletes ascend through local junior and school sports programs to the college level, and some into the pros.”
2020 HALL OF FAME INDUCTION
The 2020 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame Induction Banquet and Sports Awards is set May 8 and will be held at the Cocoa Beach County Club,
“The festivities include a meet and greet with the area’s sports royalty, dinner and the induction proceeding which includes compelling video tributes of each of the inductees,” said Malone.
FOR INFORMATION about the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame call 321-615-8111 or e-mail Contact@SpaceCoastDaily.com
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