The Samford athletics department received the Ohio Valley Conference's Sportsmanship Award June 3 at the league's annual Honors Luncheon in Nashville.
Samford President Dr. Thomas E. Corts and Director of Athletics Bob Roller received the award from OVC Commissioner Dr. Jon A. Steinbrecher. The award goes to the conference institution selected by its peers to have best exhibited the standards of sportsmanship and ethical conduct as outlined by the OVC and NCAA.
"Sportsmanship is a core value of the Ohio Valley Conference," Steinbrecher said. "One year ago we instituted an award, voted on by the membership, to recognize the OVC member institution that, as judged by its peers, has excelled in the past year in meeting the expectations and standards of sportsmanship as detailed in the conference's bylaws. Winning is certainly important--it is why we keep score. But also important is how our student-athletes, coaches, administrators and fans conduct themselves. As a conference, we believe it is important to win with humility and be magnanimous in defeat."
In addition to winning the Sportsmanship Award, Samford had a successful year on the field as well. The Samford men's program finished second in the OVC All-Sports rankings, while the women's program came in third.
"It's an honor to be recognized by our peers for this award," Roller said. "The conference office has made this issue a priority and we're pleased to try and uphold those standards."
The award, which was implemented in August 2003, is one of two accolades bestowed by the conference to honor sportsmanship. In 1998, the league established the Steve Hamilton Sportsmanship Award, presented annually to a male or female student-athlete of junior or senior standing who best exemplifies characteristics of the late Morehead State University student-athlete and athletics director by way of significant athletics performance and good sportsmanship and citizenship.
In 1995, the Ohio Valley Conference implemented a first-of-its-kind "Sportsmanship Statement," a policy promoting principles of fair play, ethical conduct and respect for one's opponent. The statement answered the challenge of the NCAA Presidents Commission to improve sportsmanship in collegiate athletics, and has become a model for others to follow across the nation.