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DII announces 2018 Award of Excellence finalists

19 schools, 2 conferences recognized for community engagement

Nineteen schools and two conferences have been named finalists for the 2018 Division II Award of Excellence, an honor recognizing campus and community engagement efforts over the past year.

Division II annually honors its members for leading events that exemplify any of the six Division II attributes: learning, balance, resourcefulness, sportsmanship, passion and service. A committee of athletics administrators determined this year’s finalists, and the Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee will select the winner, which will be announced during the Division II business session at the 2018 NCAA Convention on Jan. 20 in Indianapolis.

Each finalist will receive $500. The winner will receive $1,500 and a nationally televised football or basketball game during the 2018-19 season. The first runner-up will receive $1,250, and the second runner-up will receive $1,000. All prize money is intended to be used for future community engagement activities. 

The following are the 2018 finalists, alphabetized by conference:

School: Cal State Monterey Bay

Conference: California Collegiate Athletic Association

Event: Otters Play at J.C. Crumpton Elementary School. The program helped provide more access to physical activity to students in local, underserved elementary schools.

School: Georgian Court

Conference: Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference

Event: GC-You. Junior and senior student-athletes led programming and served as designated mentors to new student-athletes through the Strategic Transitional Education for GCU First-Year Student-Athletes Program.

Conference: Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association

Event: 125th celebration of black college football. The conference celebrated the occasion with national promotions, educational sessions and community engagement.

School: Belmont Abbey

Conference: Conference Carolinas

Event: Distribution of homeless kits. Student-athletes organized donations of various toiletries, personal hygiene items and snacks. The items were bundled into packages and distributed to those facing homelessness in Gaston and Mecklenburg counties in North Carolina.

School: Daemen

Conference: East Coast Conference

Event: Center for Allied and Unified Sport & Exercise, or CAUSE. The program connected Daemen student-athletes, coaches and staff with families in Western New York’s special needs community.

School: Arkansas Tech

Conference: Great American Conference

Event: Pack Shack. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2017, Arkansas Tech student-athletes joined the student body and community members to pack 40,000 meals for the local community.

School: Northwood

Conference: Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference

Event: Go M.A.D. Day. Northwood student-athletes engaged in a day of service in honor of Pat Riepma, their late football coach and athletics director.

School: Missouri S&T

Conference: Great Lakes Valley Conference

Event: Pioneers of Miner Women’s Athletics. This event celebrated the passion that fueled the development of greater opportunities for women in college sports.

School: Davis & Elkins

Conference: Great Midwest Athletic Conference

Event: Day of Service. Student-athletes, coaches and athletics administrators took to the streets of Elkins, West Virginia, to serve the community.

School: Montana State Billings

Conference: Great Northwest Athletic Conference

Event: Team IMPACT. The men’s basketball team welcomed Elijah Salle to its roster through a partnership with Team IMPACT.

School: Texas A&M-Commerce

Conference: Lone Star Conference

Event: Lion Basketball Education Day. The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee used the opportunity during a basketball doubleheader to talk with students about the importance of education and staying in school.

School: Central Oklahoma

Conference: Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association

Event: Red, White & Bronchos. Central Oklahoma athletics hosted a military appreciation game to start the football season.

School: West Liberty

Conference: Mountain East Conference

Event: Blizzard Walk. The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee led a community engagement initiative that put young students through various stations of physical activities.

School: Southern New Hampshire

Conference: Northeast-10 Conference

Event: JoyJars. Soccer teams stuffed JoyJars through the Jessie Rees Foundation to benefit families with children fighting cancer.

School: Winona State

Conference: Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference

Event: Zombie Crawl. The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee hosted local kids for two hours of fun, healthy and engaging free entertainment.

School: Fresno Pacific

Conference: Pacific West Conference

Event: Sunbird Sports Day. This Student-Athlete Advisory Committee-led initiative brought more than 200 elementary-aged children from impoverished communities onto campus for a fun-filled day of games and activities.

School: Flagler

Conference: Peach Belt Conference

Event: “Irma’s Impact” hurricane relief. The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee coordinated outreach groups composed of student-athletes targeting those in need of assistance following the hurricane.

Conference: Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference

Event: Sportsmanship Week. The conference ran a campaign to emphasize and promote sportsmanship as it relates to the league’s schools, coaches, student-athletes and fans.

School: Black Hills State

Conference: Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference

Event: Not Here Not Anywhere. The athletics department ran a campaign to promote sexual violence awareness and prevention.

School: Wingate

Conference: South Atlantic Conference

Event: Books and Brackets. Student-athletes facilitated sports drills for more than 800 third-graders who attended a celebration in Wingate’s Cuddy Arena to mark the end of the Union County (North Carolina) Public Schools Books and Brackets literacy campaign.

School: Barry

Conference: Sunshine State Conference

Event: Bucky’s Pre-Game and I Am Committed Day. Two collaborative community events allowed incoming, current and alumni students, as well as faculty and staff, the opportunity to interact, enjoy free baseball and softball games and participate in several activities.