Inspiration Award

May 2 Deadline Approaching for 2015 NCAA Honors Nominations

Top award winners to be recognized in January at Association’s Convention.

Nominations now open for 2015 NCAA Honors awards

NCAA member schools are invited to nominate current and former student-athletes for the 2015 Theodore Roosevelt Award , Silver Anniversary Award , Award of Valor and Inspiration Award . The awards recognize current and former student-...

Billy Mills speaks after being presented the Theodore Roosevelt Award.
NCAA celebrates inspiring honorees


From recent student-athletes who exemplified excellence both on the field and in the classroom to a renowned former runner at Kansas who overcame poverty and racism to become an inspirational Olympian, 19 individuals were celebrated Friday night at the NCAA Honors Celebration.

The Theodore Roosevelt Award was presented to Billy Mills, a Native American who spent his early years on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota before earning an athletics scholarship to the University of Kansas. Mills went on to win a gold medal in the 1964 Olympic Games, serve in the military, become a successful businessman and co-found a nonprofit organization that serves Native American youth.

The award is named after the former U.S. president whose concern for the conduct of college athletics led to the formation of the NCAA in 1906. The award is given annually to an individual for whom competitive athletics in college and attention to physical well-being afterward have been important factors in a distinguished career of national significance and achievement.“I am humbled to be considered a colleague of tonight’s honorees,” Mills said while accepting the Theodore Roosevelt Award. “Your sports performances have inspired many. But when I sat and listened and watched your passion for humanitarian deeds, I was taken on a journey, a powerful journey, to the center of my soul.”

 “Sport helped me in so many ways,” Mills said. “As a young person, sport helped me meet the winds of change that continue to occur in our rapidly changing world. It helped me take advantage of opportunities that ultimately await all of us. I was fortunate to have great leaders, great coaches, great teachers and mentors throughout my sports career.”

Other awards presented Friday recognized Today’s Top 10, given to 10 student-athletes who completed their athletics eligibility in the 2012-13 academic year to salute their excellence both in and out of their respective fields of play.

Additionally, the Award of Valor was given to Cameron Lyle, a New Hampshire track and field student-athlete (discus, shot put, hammer and weight throw) who donated bone marrow to a complete stranger. Jason Church, a former football player at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse who joined the Army and lost his legs below the knee after stepping on an IED in Afghanistan, received the Inspiration Award.The Silver Anniversary Award was given to six individuals who are 25 years removed from completing their college athletics eligibility and have gone on to notable accomplishments in their careers.

The Inspiration Award

"Inspiration is the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions to a high level."

Selection Criteria

The NCAA Inspiration Award may be presented to a coach or administrator currently associated with intercollegiate athletics, or to a current or former varsity letter-winner at an NCAA institution who, when confronted with a life-altering situation used perseverance, dedication and determination to overcome the event and most importantly, now serves as a role model to give hope and inspiration to others in similar situations.

For a member of the armed forces confronted with a duty-connected situation to be eligible for the Inspiration Award, the action must be clearly above and beyond the call of duty and so recognized by the appropriate military command.

For an on-duty member of a police force or similar security or protective organization to be eligible for the Inspiration Award, the action must be clearly above and beyond the call of duty and so recognized by the appropriate authority.

The Inspiration Awardee(s) will be celebrated in January 2022.

The Inspiration Award is not presented automatically on an annual basis. Selection is based on inspirational action before the NCAA Honors Celebration.

  • Nominations are submitted through the NCAA Program Hub. (Nominations will be accepted March 22 to April 28, 2021.)

Contact Information

Melody Lawrence
NCAA Honors Program
Phone:  317-917-6387



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