Lee Receives NCAA D2 Award Of Excellence
Lee University received one of the NCAA's most prestigious awards during the organization's annual convention held in San Antonio, Texas this past week.
Lee President Dr. Paul Conn was on center stage to receive the 2016 Award of Excellence. Twenty-one other NCAA Division II schools and three conferences were named as finalist two weeks earlier.
The Flames are in their first official year of membership in NCAA Division II and the Gulf South Conference after going through a three-year transition period.
All the programs, entering the competition, held activities exemplifying the six Division II attributes: learning, balance, resourcefulness, sportsmanship, passion and service.
Said Conn, "We are thrilled to win this award! I am so proud to be in San Antonio to accept it personally, on behalf of all the people back home who work so hard to make Lee University a place where "excellence" and "service" go together. Our thanks to NCAA Division II for recognizing us in such a significant way."
The Lee athletic program will receive $1,500 and a nationally televised basketball game during the 2016-17 season, plus travel expenses to the awards ceremony. "What an honor to be named the winner of the prestigious 2016 Award of Excellence," proclaimed athletic director Larry Carpenter. "There were so many outstanding nominations from longtime DII schools and to win it early in our NCAA journey is an amazing feat."
The centerpiece of Lee's nomination was the women's volleyball team and its annual Volley for a Cure event. The program has grown larger and has become more than a college volleyball match between college teams. The entire community is deeply involved. Starting in the fall of 2008, the first VFAC event raised $15,000 and has given over $130,000 since its inception.
The goal has always been to raise awareness about breast cancer and to raise funds to support local families. The university joins hands with the Mary Ellen Locher Scholarship Foundation, a local organization that provides scholarships to children of breast cancer patients, both survivors and deceased.
"This award would not be possible without the support of our administration and the hard work of coach (Andrea) Hudson and her team, the Volley for a Cure committee, the Lee University staff and the community," noted Carpenter.
Hudson, who recently completed her 20th year as Lee volleyball coach, said, "Winning this award just validates all of the hard work by so many in the community and at Lee. My dream since I began working at Lee years ago was to find a way to get our university and the community engaged in an effort that would benefit someone in the area.
"There are so many specific individuals, who from the very beginning, helped us create awareness of those affected by breast cancer. The Mary Ellen Locher Foundation was a perfect local organization to support because it provided scholarships to these families who had already had so much financial strain related to the disease. "
Hudson went on to praise two of the Volley for a Cure biggest supporters. "President Conn and (Cleveland) Mayor Tom Rowland, who personally, declares the event "paint the town pink day."
The coach thanked everyone who purchased T-shirts. "The majority of our money is raised from the shirts. It is a small way that everyone gets to contribute."