NASHVILLE, Tenn. – On Friday, the Ohio Valley Conference announced that the Belmont men's program and the Belmont University women's program are the recipients of the 2013-14 Team Sportsmanship Awards for indoor track and field. This marks the second-straight indoor track and field sportsmanship award for Belmont men's team and the first for the Belmont women's program.
Voted on by the student-athletes and coaches of the respective sports, the team awards are bestowed upon the Conference squads deemed to have best exhibited the standards of sportsmanship and ethical behavior as outlined by the OVC and NCAA. Included in the areas for evaluation are the conduct of student-athletes, coaches, staff and administrators and fans.
"Without sportsmanship there are truly no meaningful victories," said Beth DeBauche, OVC Commissioner. "The recipients of the OVC Team Sportsmanship awards should accept this award with great pride for their fellow competitors have made it clear their teams exemplify the best in intercollegiate athletics. In receiving this prestigious honor other competitors are saying these student-athletes compete with class, respect their opponents and value fair play. That is quite a compliment as those are all traits that will lead to true victories throughout the course of life."
The Belmont men finished sixth at this year's OVC Indoor Track and Field Championship while the Belmont women were seventh.
"We are honored that the other programs in the OVC think highly of how our student-athletes, coaches and staff conduct themselves. This is not an award that we set out to win, but it is a reflection of the type of student athletes that we recruit into our program," said Jeff Langdon, Belmont's Director of Cross Country and Track & Field. "We are privileged to be a part of the OVC - a conference that puts a strong emphasis on sportsmanship. In reality, I think each and every school at the indoor championships displayed great sportsmanship."
Implemented in August 2005, the team honors are the most recent addition to an awards program that recognizes and celebrates sportsmanship within the Conference. In 1998, the league established the Steve Hamilton Sportsmanship Award, presented annually to a male or female student-athlete of junior or senior status who best exemplifies the characteristics of the late Morehead State student-athlete, coach and administrator. Five years later, the Conference added the OVC Sportsmanship Award, presented annually to the member institution selected by its peers to have best exhibited the standards of sportsmanship and ethical behavior as outlined by the OVC and NCAA.
In 1995, the Ohio Valley Conference implemented a first-of-its-kind "Sportsmanship Statement," a policy promoting principles of fair play, ethical conduct and respect for one's opponent. The statement answered the challenge of the NCAA Presidents Commission to improve sportsmanship in collegiate athletics, and has become a model for others to follow across the nation.