INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – West Liberty University has been selected as a national finalist for the 2018 NCAA Division II Award of Excellence, an honor recognizing campus and community engagement efforts over the past year.
This marks the third time in recent years that the NCAA has recognized the university for the commitment of its student-athletes to provide positive life experiences for Ohio Valley youngsters. West Liberty was also a national finalist for the 2015 NCAA Division II Award of Excellence and was the West Virginia Conference’s winner of the NCAA Division II Community Engagement Award of Excellence in 2013.
“This is another tremendous honor for our university and our athletic department which once again shines a national spotlight on West Liberty’s long tradition of giving back to our community,” athletic director Lynn Ullom said.
“We take great pride and satisfaction in the efforts of Coach (Kayla) Mull and all of our student-athletes who participate in these events, not for the recognition but for the role it plays in their development as individuals along with the impact and inspiration they provide to the youth of our community.”
One of 19 schools and two conferences chosen as finalists for this year’s award, West Liberty was cited in recognition of the WLU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) bringing together multiple student-athletes from various sports to host the annual Blizzard Walk by All Saints Catholic School in Moundsville.
This was the fourth year the university had hosted the event, which was held on campus in the arena of the ASRC, and the first time the SAAC played an active role as part of their community service initiative.
Mull, WLU’s head volleyball coach and long-time SAAC advisor, said the Hilltopper student-athletes guided the elementary school students through various stations of physical activity including basketball, volleyball, frisbee toss, etc. and several SAAC members took time after lunch to talk to the participants about the things that are truly important to them as student-athletes at an NCAA Division II institution. Along with insights about the daily life of a collegiate athlete, the SAAC members shared their personal stories about how they became involved with their sport at a young age and why they chose to pursue it at a higher level.
“It was a great opportunity for our student-athletes to take an active role with the youth of the community in support of a great cause,” Mull said. “Interacting with the participants at such a personal level also reminded them of the time when they grew a passion for their own sport and enabled them to be an even stronger role model for the next generation.”
A committee of athletics administrators determined this year’s finalists, and the Division II SAAC 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 a $500 grant. 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.
West Liberty University is West Virginia’s oldest institution of higher education and offers nearly 70 undergraduate majors and 30 programs. Graduate programs include the Master of Arts in Education, the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies, the Master of Professional Studies, the Master of Science in Criminology, the online MBA and the new MA/MS in Biology. For more information on WLU, please call 1.866.WESTLIB or visit westliberty.edu.