RIO GRANDE, Ohio — For the 12th straight year, the University of Rio Grande has received the NAIA’s Five-Star Award for its efforts toward the association’s “Champions of Character” initiative.
The NAIA released its scorecard for the 2011-12 school year last week. More than 80 percent of its membership - 221 member schools to be precise - were recognized.
“Once again, it’s a great accomplishment for our institution and our athletic department here at the University of Rio Grande,” said Ken French, the school’s liaison for the initiative. “We’re very excited to be able to achieve this five-star recognition for the 12th straight year. I think every year, our institution and athletic department improves in how it incorporates Champions of Character not only within our teams, but within our community as well.”
The Mid-South Conference, of which Rio Grande is a member, was one of 23 conferences to be recognized with the honor.
To receive the award members scored 60 or more points on the NAIA Champions of Character Scorecard and conferences named to the list had at least 60% of its member schools making the grade with 60 or more points.
Rio Grande finished with 74 points. The school is among those recognized on the NAIA Champions of Character website and will receive a special web banner and certificate noting the honor. Presidents, athletics directors and conference commissioners will be recognized at the 72nd Annual NAIA National Convention in April.
According to the release from the NAIA, the Scorecard was crafted to convert the NAIA’s vision and strategy into measurable goals and to monitor progress towards advancing character-driven intercollegiate athletics. The initiative supports performance-driven athletics while defining expectations and standards that drive successful teams and athletics departments.
Institutions were measured based on a demonstrated commitment to Champions of Character and earned points in each of the following categories: character training, conduct in competition, academic focus, character recognition and character promotion. Institutions also earned points based on exceptional student-athlete grade point averages and by obtaining zero ejections during competition throughout the course of the academic year.
Montana Tech of the University of Montana took top honors with 100 points, while the remainder of the top five included Carroll (Mont.) College with 96 points, Paul Quinn (TX) College with 91 points, St. Francis (IN) with 91 and Xavier (LA) University also with 91.
The Appalachian Athletic, Frontier, Kansas Collegiate Athletic, Midwest Collegiate, The Sun and TranSouth Conferences landed in the top spot with 100% of their member schools making the grade.
The Scorecard process is based on the NAIA’s flagship program Champions of Character, which emphasizes the five core values of integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership.
“It says a lot about our coaches and the leadership within our athletic department that we’ve been able to reach this goal every year and how we’re able to build on it year in, year out,” French said.