IU EAST men’s basketball earns National Champions of Character Award

April 19th, 2011

The Red Wolves are the Champions of Character for NAIA Division II men’s basketball – again.

The Indiana University East men’s basketball team won the 2010-11 Buffalo Funds Five Star Champions of Character Award for NAIA Division II men’s basketball, the NAIA announced.

IU East’s men’s basketball program also won the honor during the 2008-09 season.

“To be recognized as the Champions of Character ‘national champion’ twice in three years speaks volumes about the players in our program,” said Red Wolves men’s basketball coach and athletic director Mark Hester.

“Our players know success is a choice in everything they do, and they proved to be successful people on the court and off the court this year.”

IU East’s basketball players participated in multiple community service events throughout the 2010-11 school year.

They spent time with several elementary school and middle school basketball teams.

The served as referees at the community Senior Games.

They also served Thanksgiving dinners at the local Boys & Girls Club.

Two IU East players – senior Brent Burris (Indianapolis, Ind./Home school) and junior Devon Niehoff (Rushville, Ind./Rushville High School) were Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes.

Niehoff is the president of IU East’s Student Government Association. Junior guard David Sanders (Indianapolis, Ind./Beech Grove High School) also is an SGA member.

“Character was essential to our team dynamics because we prepared ourselves in each and every game to respect our opponents,” Niehoff wrote in IU East’s nomination materials.

“We also behave ourselves on and off of the court. We are role models for our community, and we want to gain respect from our community and give (respect) back to the community. By doing this we have increased our fan base and gained respect from our opponents.”

Hester said IU East’s conduct off of the court was a big reason the team enjoyed success on the court during the 2010-11 season.

The Red Wolves went 23-10, tying a school record for wins in a season, and finished the season ranked 23rd in the nation. IU East won a share of the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular season title and advanced to the NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship for the first time.

“Character is vital to team success because sports are about integrity,” Hester said. “Sportsmanship, trust in fellow teammates, and respect for the game and your opponent cannot be achieved without having high moral values.”

The NAIA presents Five Star Champions of Character Team Awards for each of the NAIA’s 23 championship sports.

Teams that receive this prestigious award demonstrate in everyday decisions respect, responsibility, integrity, servant leadership and sportsmanship.

These institutions and athletic programs strive for excellence in and out of competition and are part of communities throughout the country dedicated to character-driven intercollegiate athletics.

IU East’s men’s basketball team was selected to receive this honor out of 144 institutions that compete in NAIA Division II men’s basketball.

IU East has been a Champions of Character institution every year since joining the NAIA in 2007.

Click http://www.championsofcharacter.org/article/34.php to view the NAIA Buffalo Funds Five Star Champions of Character Award press release.

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