RIO GRANDE, Ohio — Small College Basketball officials say they are excited about the launch of the Bevo Francis award, which will be presented annually to the men’s basketball player who has the finest overall season within Small College Basketball: NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III, NAIA Division I, NAIA Division II, NCCAA and USCAA.
The award is named after Bevo Francis, who played at Rio Grande College (now the University of Rio Grande) in Ohio in 1952-53 and 1953-54. When he arrived on campus, the school had 38 male students enrolled in the school and was on the verge of bankruptcy, planning to close its doors at the end of the 1952-53 school year. In the season before Bevo arrived at Rio Grande, the Redmen (now the Red Storm) had gone 4-19.
In his two years at Rio Grande (he left to turn professional after two years), Clarence “Bevo” Francis finished with 3,273 points for an average of 48.9 points per game. To a great degree, he can also be credited with saving a school from bankruptcy. Francis has been the subject of major documentaries and is widely considered one of the greatest scorers in college basketball history.
The initial Watch List will be posted Jan. 15 with 100 players, the next Watch List will be posted Feb. 15 with 50 players, while the next Watch List will be posted March 15 with 25 players. A video compilation of the finalists will be posted April 1 and the Bevo Francis Award presentation will take place, in person, shortly thereafter.
“This is such a thrill to work with the University of Rio Grande to create our first major national award,” said SCB founder John McCarthy. “The intent of the award is to keep the legacy and story of Bevo Francis alive, while bringing great attention to many of the great players at the small college level. This will be the most prestigious individual award in all of small college basketball.
“Bevo Francis passed away on June 3, 2015. Roughly a week-and-a-half before he passed away, he gave us his blessing to name this award in his honor, and it is fitting that the award that goes to the finest small college player in the land will hereby be named after the legendary Bevo Francis.”
The e-mail address to send nominations and detailed information is [email protected] If anyone would like to send physical information, they may send to Small College Basketball, P.O. Box 901878, Kansas City, MO 64190.
People may find out more information about the award through the website at www.smallcollegebasketball.com. The direct link to the Bevo Francis page is www.smallcollegebasketball.com/page-content/bevo-francis-award.
“Bevo Francis stands out as a phenomenal athlete by any standard, in any age,” said University of Rio Grande President Dr. Michelle Johnston. “His legacy for the University of Rio Grande equally stands out as a testament to work ethic, team work, and determination. Rio Grande is indebted to Bevo, Coach Newt Oliver, and the entire team for putting this extraordinary, transformational university on the map. To create an award like this is extra special for powerful, smaller institutions everywhere.”
The selection committee that will select the inaugural Bevo Francis award recipient includes Tobin Anderson, head coach at NCAA Division II St. Thomas Aquinas (N.Y.); Drew Diener, head coach at NCAA Division II Rockhurst (Mo.); Gerald Holmes, head coach at NCAA Division II Bloomfield (N.J.); Gary Stewart, head coach at NCAA Division III Stevenson (Md.); Ken Ammann, head coach at NCAA Division II Concordia (Calif.); J.J. Nekoloff, sports information director at ODAC/NCAA Division III National Championship; Scott McClary, head coach at NCAA Division III Muhlenberg (Pa.); Dannton Jackson, head coach at NAIA Xavier (La.); Arlen Galloway, head coach at NCAA Division III Wentworth (Mass.); Tony Dominguez, head coach at NCAA Division II Western Washington:, Chris Briggs, head coach at NAIA Georgetown (Ky.); Bill Dreikosen, head coach at NAIA Rock Mountain (Mont.); Pat Cunningham, head coach at NCAA Division III Trinity (Texas); Klint Pleasant, head coach at NAIA/USCAA Rochester (Mich.); Ryan Kane, head coach at NCAA Division III Ripon (Wisc.); and Mike McGrath, head coach at NCAA Division III University of Chicago.
“Bevo Francis and the entire 1952-54 Rio Grande basketball team played a huge role in changing how college basketball was regarded,” said Rio Grande Director of Athletics Jeff Lanham. “This team gave America something to cheer about and put Rio Grande on the map.”
Jessica Patterson is a communications specialist for the University of Rio Grande/Rio Grande Community College.