NCAA 2000 Convention Proceeding

  NCAA Honors Dinner

NCAA Honors Dinner

Sunday Evening, January 9, 2000


Charles Wethington

(NCAA Executive Committee Chair/University of Kentucky):

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. It is a pleasure to welcome you to our 35th annual NCAA honors dinner. Please stand, and I will present to you Amy Huchthausen, a member of the NCAA Student-Advisory Committee, the Division III Management Council and former softball student-athlete from the University of Wisconsin, Lacrosse. After the invocation, please enjoy your dinner. Then we will be back with tonight’s program.

Miss Amy Huchthausen.


Amy Huchthausen

(Student-Athlete Advisory Committee):

Thank you. Let us give thanks for bringing us together this evening to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of these remarkable individuals. We ask that we be blessed tonight, as we serve witness to what can be attained when we fully utilize the talents that we have so graciously been given.

We give thanks for the level of character that has been bestowed upon tonight’s honorees. The integrity they have displayed throughout their lives has provided us with examples we are proud to emulate. Please bless us for all that we are about to receive and all who we are here to honor.

Mr. Wethington:

Please be seated.

Dinner was served.


(Audiovisual Recording):

It’s the dawn of a new century, but the characteristics that make college sports unique remain intact. Tonight, we will recognize the accomplishments of a group of current and former student-athletes who are the paradigms of sportsmanship—both on and off the playing fields. They are leaders not only in sports, but also in the classroom and the world at large.

Tonight’s honorees include student-athletes from colleges large and small; from the United States and from foreign lands. They are college coaches; military heroes; and some have taken the athletics gifts they first showcased on the collegiate stage and risen to the highest levels of their respective sports. Welcome to the NCAA honors dinner.

Mr. Wethington:

Honored guests, ladies and gentlemen, we have a wonderful program this evening, so let’s get started with our celebration. If you have had an opportunity to look over tonight’s program, you no doubt like me are impressed with our honorees.

These individuals truly have made outstanding contributions in intercollegiate athletics—whether it was during the last four years or 25 years ago.

Once you have been introduced to them and hear more about their accomplishments, you will come to see a very common bond that they all share. Not only were they top-caliber student-athletes, but they also gave—and continue to give—generously of their time and talents toward making their institutions, their communities and even their countries better places in which to live, to work and to play.

Our Top VIII honorees have excelled in team sports and individual sports. Interestingly, one of them is an Olympian, two have led their teams to NCAA national championships, one is a two-sport athlete, and four others are outstanding individuals from the sports of football, basketball, baseball and field hockey. But above all, they have excelled as students and truly have represented their institutions with grace and dignity.

Our Silver Anniversary winners and the Theodore Roosevelt Award winner are absolutely amazing. As college student-athletes, they competed at the highest levels. As adults, they have chosen to pursue professions that allow them to make differences in the lives of young people throughout this country and throughout the world. In addition, they have used their talents granted to them to further promote the advantage of gaining a college education and remaining physically fit and active.

Before we begin, I would like to recognize two people on the dais this evening. First is the chair of the NCAA Honors Committee, which is responsible for selecting tonight’s honorees and for planning our program. The chair of that committee and associate commissioner of the Atlantic 10 Conference is Robert Steitz. Bob, will you please stand and let us express our appreciation to you? (Applause)

Also on the dais with us is someone who plays a very key role, not only in this Convention but in the NCAA. He has been a remarkable leader in athletics for many years. Please welcome the president of the NCAA, Cedric Dempsey. (Applause)


Mr. Wethington, Charles T., Jr.

Tonight’s master of ceremonies is one of ESPN’s Sportscenter’s coanchors. Bob Ley, a 1976 magna cum laude graduate of Seton Hall University, began his broadcasting career as the production manager at WOR-AM in New York. He joined ESPN on the network’s third day of existence in September 1979, and is currently a coanchor of the 6 p.m. weeknight Sportscenter. He also serves as host of ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” series, which focuses on sports issues beyond the competition arena. This program, which in April will become a weekly Sunday morning show, has captured seven sports Emmy awards for sports journalism and three CableAce awards for a sports information series.

In an age when the line between athletics and entertainment is becoming increasingly blurred, Bob Ley is one of the few remaining journalists in sports television. In 20 years at ESPN, he has traveled the world on assignment, much of it for the “Outside the Lines” series. Ley also serves as an anchor on Sportscenter, heading up the coverage of breaking news. His play-by-play reporting has a global tilt, as he was the lead announcer on coverage of the 1998 World Cup. Perhaps his finest work has been reserved for two televised “Town Meetings,” including a discussion of race in sports that featured President Clinton on the panel of experts.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce tonight’s emcee, Bob Ley. (Applause)


Bob Ley


Thank you, Charles, very much. Ladies and gentlemen, it is my great pleasure to be here this evening to help you celebrate the accomplishments of an incredibly prestigious group of student-athletes, both past and present.

Tonight’s program permits the NCAA to honor eight outstanding student-athletes from 1999 and six former letter-winners who have distinguished themselves in their chosen professions on their silver anniversary as college graduates.

I take tonight great pleasure in introducing to you the NCAA Today’s Top VIII award winners. Let’s begin.

Michael Hunter Bledsoe

Vanderbilt University

Mr. Ley, Bob

Michael excelled on both the baseball diamond and through his community relations efforts. He is a 1999 signee of the Los Angeles Dodgers and was named the Southeastern Conference player of the year in 1999. In addition, he devoted time to working with ill children and their families and to tutoring elementary school children as well.

They call Michael Bledsoe “Hunter.” His prey? Southeastern Conference pitchers. Last season, Bledsoe led the SEC in two offensive categories and ranked in the top five in three more. He was a first-team all-America selection. Bledsoe is an all-round player who can hit for contact and power. Apparently, he can run for power as well.

As a senior at Vanderbilt last season, Bledsoe won the SEC batting title with a .459 average and also cracked 10 home runs in his 54 games. But Bledsoe’s career wasn’t just a walk around the bases. As a freshman at Duke University, he batted just .267 before getting cut from the team. After one year at a junior college, Bledsoe moved on to Vanderbilt where he set the school record for career batting average with a .425 mark. His grade-point average wasn’t far behind, as he graduated with a 3.59 in his double major—engineering science and economics. His hard work as a Commodore paid off last spring when he signed a professional contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

He is receiving his Top VIII award from Todd Turner, director of athletics, Vanderbilt University. Ladies and gentlemen, “Hunter” Bledsoe. (Applause)

Brian D. Moorman

Pittsburg State University

Mr. Ley, Bob

Moorman is a standout athlete in not only one but two sports—football and outdoor track and field. He is a standout in the classroom as well. He earned a perfect 4.0 grade-point average seven times in his college career, finishing with a 3.93 GPA.

Stop the presses. Brian Moorman’s collegiate days at Pittsburg State University were filled with all kinds of headline-worthy accomplishments. In the classroom, Moorman was a six-time first-team academic all-American. He earned a perfect 4.0 grade-point average in seven different semesters and finished with a 3.93 GPA overall in history. When Moorman wasn’t using his head, he was using his legs, either in football or track and field.

On the gridiron, Moorman was the Pittsburg State punter for four seasons, earning all-American honors each year. He ranked in the top five nationally in yards-per-punt during his sophomore, junior and senior campaigns. Moorman also handled kickoff duties for the Gorillas, constantly pinning the opposition deep in its own territory. When his powerful right foot wasn’t kicking footballs, it was clearing hurdles. Moorman was a three-time Division II national champion in the 400-meter hurdles, and he was named the 1999 Division II track and field athlete of the year. (Applause)

He is receiving his Top VIII award from Russ Jewett, the head track and field and cross country coach at Pittsburg State University. Ladies and gentlemen, Brian Moorman. (Applause)

Stephanie Nickitas,

University of Florida.

Mr. Ley, Bob

One of the most dominant tennis players in the country for four years, Stephanie has excelled in both singles and doubles tennis, including a career-high ranking in the International Tennis Association as No. 1 in doubles and 13th in singles.

Stephanie Nickitas was the dominant women’s collegiate tennis player of the 1990s. During her career at the University of Florida, Nickitas earned four college grand slam titles and six all-America honors. Patience was her virtue. Like a Gator stalking its prey, Nickitas would lie in wait before stealthily sneaking up for the kill. Nickitas collected three collegiate indoor championships and two NCAA outdoor titles.

Over the course of her singles career, Nickitas won 128 matches against just 22 losses. Nickitas knew how to double her pleasure, as she was even more impressive as a team player. Nickitas and partner, Dawn Buth, became the first doubles team in history to repeat as Division I champions, winning in 1996 and again in ’97. Nickitas attacked the books as aggressively as she did the net, twice earning academic all-America honors, finishing with a 3.7 GPA in business administration. (Applause)

She is receiving her Top VIII award from Jamie McCloskey, associate athletics director, University of Florida. Ladies and gentlemen, Stephanie Nickitas. (Applause)

Sally Northcroft

Ball State University

Mr. Ley, Bob

Sally is a powerful force on the playing field, in the classroom and in her community service efforts. She broke numerous records in field hockey, including setting the Division I field hockey single-season scoring record with 52 goals this past season. Recently, she received the Honda award for the sport of field hockey, and she was a three-time national academic team member with a 3.57 GPA in physical education.

Sally Northcroft has come out of Africa and into the field hockey record books. A native of Zimbabwe, Northcroft dreamed of playing in the states since age 14. Four years ago, only one school in the country offered her a scholarship, but now every college in the country wishes they had. During her career at Ball State University, Northcroft became one of the most potent offensive weapons in women’s field hockey history. Northcroft was a two-time all-American and was twice named the Mid-American Conference player of the year. She scored hat tricks 20 different times, and once scored seven goals in a single game.

Northcroft was a clutch performer, scoring nine game-winning goals last season alone. Northcroft capped her remarkable career by breaking the single-season NCAA goal-scoring record against rival Louisville, eclipsing an eight-year-old mark. She finished the season with 52, and will graduate this spring with a degree in physical education. (Applause)

She will receive her Top VIII award from Andrea Seger, athletics director, Ball State University. Ladies and gentlemen, Sally Northcroft. (Applause)

Chad Pennington

Marshall University

Mr. Ley, Bob

Chad won many awards during his outstanding college football career, including being chosen as one of the nation’s top senior football players privileged to play in the Hula Bowl. This Rhodes scholar nominee with a 3.8 GPA in broadcast journalism also excels in the public speaking arena. He gives talks at numerous hospitals, schools and youth sports organizations.

Coming out of high school, Chad Pennington was deemed too small and too weak to play major college football. When Marshall, then a Division I-AA school, gave him his only scholarship offer, Pennington jumped at the opportunity. He made an immediate impact, leading the Thundering Herd to the I-AA national title game.

One year later, Pennington red-shirted when a transfer quarterback became the starter. Pennington upped his efforts in the weight room, and the man who emerged from that season on the sidelines became perhaps the finest quarterback in college football the last three years.

As a red-shirt sophomore in 1997, Pennington threw 39 touchdown passes. One year later, Pennington was an honorable mention all-American at the Division I level. This past season, he ranked second in the nation in passing efficiency and was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.

It should come as no surprise that Pennington is the son of two teachers, for he devotes much of his time to mentoring youngsters. Pennington practices what he preaches, graduating with a 3.8 GPA in broadcast journalism.

Receiving his Top VIII award from Lance West, athletics director, Marshall University, ladies and gentlemen, Chad Pennington. (Applause)

Michael Ruffin

University of Tulsa

Mr. Ley, Bob

Michael was exceptional in a variety of ways during his college career. In basketball, he led his university to three NCAA tournament bids. In academics, he earned a 3.72 GPA in chemical engineering. And as a volunteer in his community, he tutored both fellow college and high-school students and worked with mentally and physically challenged individuals. (Applause)

Michael Ruffin is an avid collector of exotic animals. And like his furry friends, Ruffin is known to run wild at times. During his four-year career at Tulsa University, Ruffin led the Golden Hurricane to a combined 88 and 40 record. Much more than just a dunking machine, Ruffin was a polished inside player. He became the first player in school history to reach the 1,000 mark in both points and rebounds.

He was a two-time all-Western Athletic Conference selection and last season he finished in the top 20 nationally in both rebounding and blocked shots. Ruffin steered the Hurricane to first-round victories in both the 1997 and 1999 NCAA tournaments. When Ruffin’s career ended and his jersey was sent to the rafters, he was Tulsa’s all-time leader in rebounding. And he hit the books as hard as he hit the boards. He graduated last year with a 3.72 grade-point average in chemical engineering. (Applause)

Receiving his Top VIII award from Judy MacLeod, athletics director, University of Tulsa, ladies and gentlemen, Michael Ruffin. (Applause)

Kelly Schade

Simpson College

Mr. Ley, Bob

A three-time most valuable player in the Iowa Conference, Kelly ruled the softball diamond. In one year, she pitched more than 64 consecutive scoreless innings, the third longest such streak in Division III history, and she also became the fourth pitcher in Division III history to reach 700 career strikeouts. She was outstanding in the classroom as well, earning a 3.94 GPA in economics. (Applause)

Spell Kelly Schade’s first name with 1,121 “Ks”. That’s how many strikeouts Schade amassed during her career at Simpson College. A three-time all-American, Schade once went 64 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run. She set six different Division III records, establishing new single-season and career marks in strikeouts, shutouts and wins. And Schade did much more than just garner individual attention. She led the Storm to two NCAA championships.

Once Kelly got warmed up, hitters had a hard time finding “shade” to escape from her heat. Schade once struck out 18 batters in a single game, and during her sophomore season, she posted a minuscule 0.37 earned run average. If hitters simply made contact, they judged it an overwhelming success. For that was the most they could hope for. Schade was a champion on and off the field, posting a 3.94 grade-point average in economics. (Applause)

Receiving her Top VIII award from Bruce Sloan, faculty athletics representative of Simpson College, ladies and gentlemen, Kelly Schade. (Applause)

Debbie Ferguson

University of Georgia

Mr. Ley, Bob

Our only Olympic athlete of the evening, Debbie was a silver medalist in the 1996 Olympics in the 400-meter relay. The University of Georgia presidential scholar also won awards for her community service and leadership, volunteering for such worthy programs as a homeless shelter and an adopt-a-highway effort.

Debbie Ferguson says she is still perfecting her running style. One can only imagine what will happen when she does perfect it, for Ferguson already ranks among the fastest women on the planet.

A native of the Bahamas, Ferguson helped sprint her country to a silver medal in the 4-by-100 meter relay at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. After missing the entire 1997 season with an injury, Ferguson returned to competition in 1998, racing for the University of Georgia.

The injury didn’t slow her down, as she went on to dominate collegiate sprints for two years. A 19-time all-American, Ferguson earned four NCAA titles for the Bulldogs, including the 1998 100-meter and the 200-meter outdoor championships. She then took her show indoors, winning the 60-meter and 200-meter NCAA crowns.

For her efforts, Ferguson was honored with the 1999 Jackie Joyner-Kersee award as the nation’s top female collegiate track and field performer.

Receiving her Top VIII award from Dr. Michael Adams, the president of the University of Georgia, ladies and gentlemen, Debbie Ferguson. (Applause)

Debbie will now speak on behalf of all the current student-athletes. Debbie.


Debbie Ferguson

(University of Georgia):

Thank you, Mr. Ley.

Honored guests, ladies and gentlemen, other distinguished guests, a pleasant goodnight. First and foremost, I would like to thank the Lord for giving us the strength to be here. It is readily apparent how proud each and every one is of their school—even if they weren’t part of the selected few, privileged to attend the University of Georgia.

Our sincere thanks to the NCAA Executive Committee, the NCAA Honors Committee, the universities and colleges, especially President Michael Adams, Coach Vince Dooley, the athletics director, and former track head coach, John Mitchell, the professors and counselors, all the supportive staff, and last but not least, our incredible supportive families.

You have brought us here to honor us because of our academics and athletics achievements, character and leadership. But I think it is only fitting to give tribute to the NCAA and our learning institutions, which have given us the tools and opportunities to be who and what we are tonight.

In addition, each and every honoree has made the constant sacrifice and taken time to achieve and accomplish the success that we now enjoy. At this time, I would like to congratulate all the honorees for a job well done. (Applause)

I am challenging each and every one of us to continue to strive always for excellence, realizing this top award for academics, athletics and leadership hits at the heart of ethics and how it can be maintained in the sport arena. Continue to give generously of our time and effort to influence other lives in your community. As the law of reciprocation states, the more you help others, the more your life is enhanced.

On behalf of the Top VIII award winners, thank you all for giving us the greatest life that anybody can possibly have. Thank you so much. (Applause)


Mr. Ley:

Thank you very much, Debbie. That was marvelous. Now, as we continue with our program, it is time to honor this year’s Silver Anniversary award winners.

Dianne Baker

Texas Woman's University

Mr. Ley, Bob

Dianne was a five-sport letter-winner in softball, tennis, badminton, field hockey and soccer. My goodness.

Since her graduation, she has not slowed down one single bit. She has become one of the most successful coaches in NCAA softball history and has volunteered her time to numerous causes.

During her career at Texas Woman’s University, Dianne Baker earned enough letters to dominate a game of scrabble: 14 of them in five different sports. Her favorite game, however, was softball.

After leading the Pioneers to the 1975 College World Series, Baker stepped outside the lines, and today she continues to be one of the most successful coaches in NCAA history. She spent 14 seasons at Stephen F. Austin State University, leading the LadyJacks to the Division II title in 1985. It remains the school’s only national championship.

Baker is now back at her alma mater, and she is closing in on 600 victories. And forget about the Baker’s dozen. She has coached 19 all-Americans during her career. She coaches the game straight from a textbook. In fact, she has written three of those and produced 16 instructional videos. And Baker doesn’t keep all the goodies to herself. She donated the profits from one of those videos to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. (Applause)

Receiving her Silver Anniversary award from Dr. Ann Stuart, president of Texas Woman’s University, ladies and gentlemen, Dianne Baker. (Applause)

Ulysses Junior Bridgeman

University of Louisville

Mr. Ley, Bob

“Junior” has known great success throughout his life. A basketball standout at the University of Louisville, he led the team to the NCAA Final Four back in 1975, went on to a successful 12-year career in the NBA, and now owns several Wendy’s Restaurants in three separate states.

Ulysses Bridgeman is better known as “Junior,” and it seems a fitting sobriquet, for on the basketball floor, Bridgeman was like the annoying little brother who just wouldn’t leave you alone. His airtight defense and subtle all-round game helped spark a basketball renaissance at Louisville in the 1970s.

In his senior year, Bridgeman, an all-American, led his team to the Final Four. There, the Cardinals lost to UCLA in a game legendary Bruins coach John Wooden said was one of the finest college games ever played. From there it was on to the NBA, where Bridgeman enjoyed a distinguished 12-year career. Ten of his seasons were spent in Milwaukee, where he gave the Bucks an offensive spark off the bench.

Bridgeman was considered the NBA’s top sixth man during his career, leading all NBA reserves in scoring for three straight seasons. When he retired in 1987 with a career average of nearly 14 points a game, he ranked among the Bucks all-time leaders in 11 different statistical categories. He has since returned to Louisville where he is active in the community. (Applause)

Receiving his Silver Anniversary award from Tom Jurich, the director of athletics, University of Louisville, ladies and gentlemen, Ulysses “Junior” Bridgeman. (Applause)

Lisa Rosenblum

Yale University

Mr. Ley, Bob

Lisa had an impressive four-year record of 43 wins and two losses during her tennis career at Yale, where she lost only once in tournament competition. She has carried her winning habits into her professional life as well. Now she is a senior vice-president at Cablevision Systems Corporation.

During the 1970s, New England tennis courts were ruled by a benevolent queen, Lisa Rosenblum. For four consecutive years, Rosenblum was the top-ranked singles player for Yale University. She was quite a bulldog at the net, winning three Ivy League titles and four New England College championships. Over the course of her career, she compiled a remarkable 43-2 record in singles action.

Since her playing career ended, Rosenblum has turned from net “games” to net “gains.” An accomplished executive, Rosenblum is now the senior vice-president for the Cablevision Corporation, where she oversees the synergy between Cablevision’s diverse media systems. And she also serves as a state department advisor in the telecommunications development of several Eastern European countries. (Applause)

Receiving her Silver Anniversary award from Barbara Chesler, the associate director of athletics, Yale University, ladies and gentlemen, Lisa Rosenblum. (Applause)

Captain John Dickson Stufflebeem

U.S. Naval Academy

Mr. Ley, Bob

Captain Stufflebeem will advance to the rank of Rear Admiral this summer after being nominated for the position by President Clinton. He has known great success throughout his collegiate and professional careers. As a football player at the U.S. Naval Academy, Captain Stufflebeem set records that continue to rank among the best in that institution’s history.

Twenty-five years ago, Navy’s special-team weapon was John Stufflebeem. Stufflebeem was well practiced in the art of deception, here executing an aerial bombardment against Notre Dame. He was named the New York Times’ player of the week after Navy’s 1974 near upset of the Irish.

Stufflebeem could bring out the big guns when needed, as his career average of nearly 40 yards per punt still ranks fourth best in school history. After graduation, Stufflebeem went from booting punts into the sky to dropping bombs out of it.

A product of the prestigious Top Gun Flight School, he has made over 1,000 carrier landings as a Navy pilot. He served as a military aide to President Bush in 1989 and 1990. And after first learning how to pin the opposition deep in its own territory during his football career, Stufflebeem has employed those same skills in combat missions over Iraq and Bosnia. Stufflebeem’s distinguished service to the country has been rewarded with a promotion to Rear Admiral from President Clinton, effective in the summer of 2000. (Applause)

Receiving his Silver Anniversary award from Vice-Admiral John Ryan, superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy, ladies and gentlemen, Captain John Dickson Stufflebeem. (Applause)

John F. Trembley

University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Mr. Ley, Bob

John was a champion throughout his collegiate swimming career. He was a 20-time all-American and became the first swimmer to win five NCAA events in a single year. Since his college days, John has helped others reach the same kind of lofty achievements that he has reached. For instance, in the 11 years he has been the University of Tennessee swimming coach, he has coached student-athletes who have won 191 all-American honors, they have set 72 school records and they have set three American records.

If it does indeed take different strokes to rule the woiid, then in 1973 John Trembley was king of all the land. Trembley was ahead of the times when he went with the bald look for aerodynamics, and at the ‘73 NCAA championships he was way ahead of his competitors.

A Tennessee Volunteer, he became the first swimmer to win five titles in a single year. He earned an individual triple crown, winning the 500-meter freestyle, the 100 butterfly and the 100 free. He also propelled the Vols to relay victories in the 400 free and the 400 medley events. Not surprisingly, he was named the swimmer of the year in 1973. Perhaps his most impressive feat is that he has more hair today than he did in his 20s. And underneath that hair is a coaching mind that has guided Tennessee to an 82-8 record during his 11-year reign as the Vols’ coach. (Applause)

Receiving his Silver Anniversary award from Doug Dickey, the director of athletics at the University of Tennessee, ladies and gentlemen, John Trembley. (Applause)

Patrick C. Haden

University of Southern California

Mr. Ley, Bob

While he may now be best known as a television sports commentator, Pat Haden had an outstanding collegiate and professional football career. He quarterbacked the University of Southern California team to two national championships, and subsequently played for the then Los Angeles Rams for five years. Currently, he is a broadcaster with NBC.

He was not the biggest or strongest quarterback in college football, but for three years in the 1970s Pat Haden was simply the best quarterback. Haden entered the University of Southern California after a storied career at Bishop Amat High School, and he guided the Trojans to two national championships in his three seasons at the controls.

Haden led the Trojans to the second title in his final game, the 1975 Rose Bowl. On his last collegiate pass, Haden completed the two-point conversion to give USC an 18-17 win over Ohio State.

Haden then went on to a six-year professional career, playing for his hometown Rams and earning NFC player-of-the-year honors in 1978.

When he wasn’t studying play books to refine his game, he was studying the classics to refine his education. This Phi Beta Kappa and Rhodes scholar earned a degree from Oxford University while his NFL career was in full swing. Haden put his knowledge to good use, serving as a television analyst for the past 17 years.

He now calls games for NBC, and prior to that he worked for Turner and CBS. When he is not in the booth, he works as a partner in an L.A. venture capital firm. (Applause)

Receiving his Silver Anniversary award from Mike Garrett, the athletics director of the University of Southern California, ladies and gentlemen, Pat Haden. (Applause)

And now Pat Haden will speak on behalf of the Silver Anniversary winners. Pat, I congratulate you.


Pat Haden:

Thank you, Bob, very, very much. All the Silver Anniversary award winners would like to actually thank Cecil B. DeMille for the video that you just saw. Actually, in honor of this Silver Anniversary event, I have put on 25 pounds since that last game, as you can see. My son, Taylor, that is what I looked like with hair just so you will know.

On behalf of my fellow Silver Anniversary award winners, I want to first congratulate our Top VIII winners for the successful, but more importantly, their balanced collegiate careers. They are remarkable people, whom you have just heard about. We believe and hope it will continue to make a difference in their respective communities, colleges and schools.

We, as a class, also want to take this moment to congratulate Roger Staubach, who later will be recognized as the winner of the Theodore Roosevelt award. I had the misfortune several times of being the other quarterback when the Rams played the Cowboys. Roger had the most overactive competitive thyroid of anybody I have ever known. There was never a safe lead when Roger was the quarterback. When he played football, it was really not a game, it was more like a recital. He wasn’t just a great player, Roger Staubach was a man of virtue from our class. Roger, congratulations.

To John Berry, whom you will hear from in a moment—our valor honoree—your love for your brother and your sacrifice of a kidney to save his life, and in so doing sacrifice a very promising senior season of football, that is a remarkable story.

I am particularly delighted to be asked to be the acceptance speaker for our Silver Anniversary award winners and to share this moment with Junior Bridgeman, Captain John Stufflebeem and John Trembley. But even further, I am delighted to stand here tonight with Dianne Baker and Lisa Rosenblum, and also with Stephanie Nickitas, Sally Northcroft, Debbie Ferguson and Kelly Schade in particular.

You see, I was one of the Top V award winners in 1975. It was the Top V in those years, and I made the acceptance speech. By the way, it is the same one I am giving tonight. (Laughter) I did give the acceptance speech on behalf of the five of us, all men. It was not until 1982 when we took our blinders off and recognized the incredible talents and contributions of female student-athletes in recognizing the top scholar athletes. (Applause)

So today, as the father of a Division I female student-athlete, I thank people like Dianne and Lisa for paving the way for generations of women who have followed them. In a collective thank you from our Silver Anniversary class, to the NCAA for recognizing us.

Now, you have to admit this 25th anniversary class looks pretty doggone good and well preserved. A lot has transpired over this silver anniversary period. A lot has happened in the past 25 years. I just want to give you a few of the things to think about that happened over these 25 years.

From the fall of the Berlin Wall to a more pleuralistic Soviet Union, to the end of apartheid in South Africa, the freeing of Nelson Mandela, a mass market for personal computers was founded and an outstanding shrinking of the world through technology, the Internet; a company called Microsoft was founded over the last 25 years. The U.S. women’s soccer team won the World Cup and became perhaps the best sports story of 1999—once again reminding all of us who care so much about sports in this room how sports can uplift human spirits.

Now, while much has changed over the last 25 years for most of us in this room, there remains some fundamental truths technology can’t change, e-commerce can’t trade, the Internet can’t alter—such truths as love is the best of emotions. Character counts in sports and outside of sports. As I am reminded by Dick Enberg, my friend and broadcast partner for many, many times, the words “thank you” are the two most powerful words in the universe and yet so rarely used.

Perhaps while not a fundamental truth as an accurate statement of fact and quite apropos, I think, for tonight’s ceremonies, there is room in the collegiate scene for the pursuit of excellence in both athletics and academics. That makes a difference in your community—as this Silver Anniversary class has—and is much more important than celebrity.

Tonight, we revel and celebrate the accomplishments of the past and present student-athletes. While we come from different generations, I believe both the Top VIII award winners as well as the Silver Anniversary award winners share the ideal of what the balance between rigorous academic work and fierce competition can bring.

In spite of the cynics of sport and all of us who deal with athletics know there are way too many out there, and in spite of what we seem to revel in the lives of some wayward athletes, and in spite of some of the jerks in sports—yes, we have some jerks—athletics still has a unique place in American culture with remarkable possibilities. Our Top VIII award winners are certainly examples of these exhilarating possibilities.

John Trembley reminded me last week how the NCAA needs to be thanked for not only recognizing student-athletes like these, but thanks for cultivating an environment where student-athletes can intellectually stretch themselves while at the same time attempt to run faster, jump higher, dive better and so on.

So, tonight is not a night of cynicism, but an evening to revel in the connection athletic competition can bring to people who seem so different, but when on a team, finds so much common ground. It is the common denominator here for us tonight as I was reminded earlier this week by Dianne Baker.

Because of the incredible possibilities in athletics potential to do such powerfully good and important things, all of us in this room need to be concerned about preserving and improving this wonderful asset we call sports. Athletic competition from fields to pools, to gyms, to tracks, to courts at its best, which it very often is, can imbue its participant with a sense of accomplishment rarely realized.

From competition can come compassion, from competition can come a development of one’s sense of worth of contributing to something larger and more important than one’s self. It is about excellence that is uplifting. It is about sacrifice and dedication and hard work and sticking to it. Most importantly, it should be about enjoyment. Without that, it is no longer a sport.

But sometimes, because of our increasing emphasis on records and individual accomplishment, we forget the joy and the frustration from sports that should come from the performance, not just the score. We have seen that winning the national championship or being number one is the only pleasure of success when most of us realize that is not the case at all.

I am reminded of this fact by Joe Paterno, who in 1986 won his very first national championship. Joe was asked if that was his best team. Joe Paterno’s response was, “I don’t know if it is my best team. My best team will be the team that produces the most productive citizens.”

Sports can help do that. Clearly, it is not the only way of producing productive citizens. Because of hundreds of thousands of young men and women participating in athletic competition each year—properly channeled and kept in its proper perspective—healthy competition can help teach us how to enjoy the spirit of cooperation, how to demand much of ourselves, how to sacrifice individual desires for a larger team goal. It can help teach us graceful compassion without getting strung out on winning. These are the lessons that sports can teach especially well, and when these lessons are being nurtured by us, sport is at its very best. This class of Silver Anniversary award winners fully recognizes without significant sacrifices and nurturing by others, we would not stand here today. So we proudly say “thank you.”

Thank you first and foremost to our parents who taught us to meet the challenges and responsibilities of life, and to our spouses and children who have made whatever successes we have had more fun to enjoy, and to our teachers, coaches and athletic administrators of our respective universities for providing an environment for us to search for and achieve balance in our lives—where efforts and accomplishments on both sides of the hyphen in the term “student-athlete” were acknowledged and appreciated. Thank you very much. (Applause)


Mr. Ley:

Pat, it is our turn to say thank you for those cogent observations. Thank you very much.

Our next presentation is the NCAA Award of Valor. This honor may be presented to a coach or administrator, or to a current or former varsity letter-winner at an NCAA institution who, when confronted with a situation involving personal danger, averted or minimized potential danger by courageous action or noteworthy bravery.

This is important. The NCAA Award of Valor has only been presented seven previous times in the previous 25 years. The last time, you might remember back in 1998, to honor Shannon Smith, a very special football player from the University of Hawaii who gave his life while saving a child from drowning.

The nomination form for the Award of Valor defines valor as the strength of mind or spirit that enables a person to brave danger with boldness and firmness.

John Berry, Jr., Williams College

Mr. Ley, Bob

John Berry Jr., this year’s recipient of the valor award, has demonstrated he has both strength of mind and strength of spirit. This past summer, he donated a kidney to his brother who was in renal failure. In doing so, he gave up his final year of collegiate eligibility on the Williams College football team—a team for which he had been elected captain for the second season in a row. John plans to return to school this month and compete in indoor and outdoor track and graduate in June. (Applause)

John Berry says it was an easy decision to give up his final season of football at Williams College. After all, he was trading it in for something far more important—his brother’s life. Last summer, John donated a kidney to save the life of his older sibling, DeAngelo, who was dying from renal failure.

Prior to the transplant, Berry had developed into one of the best defensive backs in the history of Williams College. As a junior in 1998, Berry had four interceptions and led the Ephs to an 8-0 record and was rewarded with first-team all-conference honors.

After the successful transplant and a month of recuperation, Berry was back at Williams last fall. Unable to play football anymore because a blow to his one remaining kidney would be life-threatening, Berry spent last season as an assistant coach. He will graduate this summer with a double major in biology and psychology, not to mention an honorary degree in lifesaving. (Applause)

Presenting the award to John is Richard Farley, head football coach at Williams College. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in congratulating an extremely unique young man, John Berry, the recipient of the Award of Valor. John. (Applause)


John Berry

(Williams College):

Thank you very much for that gracious welcome, Mr. Ley. Honored guests, ladies and gentlemen, many people have asked me what I would say tonight. I guess my unusual response was that I will follow the two tenets of public speaking, which are not to put my foot in my mouth, and secondly, to not put anyone to sleep.

To that end, I would like to first thank the Honors Committee that decided me worthy of this distinguished award. You can only imagine my surprise when I heard the news. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect anything as splendid as this to occur.

This award, to be blunt, is not a testament to the strength, mind or spirit that John Berry has. In all honestly, it is a testament to all the people who have ever extended a hand of kindness, wisdom and discipline to John Berry. I am the accomplishment of all those people. Many of them are here tonight.

How can any person go wrong when all around him he sees the embodiments of the virtues of love and fortitude. Here tonight, I want everyone to understand I don’t stand here alone. I am a vessel for all the teachings my family, my coach and my God have provided.

As I have thought of the words I would speak tonight, I thought deeply about the extraordinary act of courage that I had personally witnessed in my short life. It occurred to me that each of us has our own moments of personal triumph and tragedy.

I bet if I talked to each of you individually, you would all speak about some defining moment that you encountered, battled and overcame. Whether in victory or defeat, those moments search our minds, our hearts and our spirits to the depths of their potentials.

I have been asked if my decision was a difficult one. If there is one thing I have learned in life, it is that any decision made with love, is never truly hard. It is only right. The kidney I gave my brother represents a stamp of love—the love I have for him and the love he has always shown me.

My mom was terrified when all this took place, but as she had always said to me: “Do what you feel is right.” I live that lesson every day. I kindly reminded her of it when we were making this decision. I had to remind her again when I told her of my intention to pursue a career in coaching the game of football—a sport I love and I have learned many valuable lessons from.

The most basic lesson is sacrifice—the sacrifice to a greater good. I can’t think of anything greater than the love of a brother. There have been a number of publications telling the wonderful story of my family, of all the things I have said and that I have tried not to put my foot in my mouth.

There is one thing I will always remember, and I hope you will remember it. When asked the question of why I decided to give the kidney to my brother, I said: “It is the only thing to do.” I think any of us, any of you here tonight, would make the same choice if you were really given a choice. I believe that with all of my heart. Thank you.

[Note: The assembly extended a prolonged standing ovation.]


Mr. Ley:

Thank you very much, John. From one profile in courage to another. It is time now for us to turn our attention to the focal point of each honors program—the presentation of the Theodore Roosevelt Award, the highest honor the Association bestows on an individual.

Your program includes pictures of past winners of this award, which recognizes a distinguished citizen, who, having earned a varsity athletics award in college, has exemplified the ideals and the purposes to which college athletics is dedicated. It is a distinguished group. As you will note, it includes former presidents, military leaders and pioneers in space and medicine.

Roger Staubach, United States Naval Academy

Mr. Ley, Bob

Without a doubt, all of these individuals have earned this recognition. It is easy to see that the 2000 Theodore Roosevelt Award winner also deserves the recognition of winning the coveted “Teddy” Award. He excelled in not one but three sports while at the United States Naval Academy between 1962 and 1965, winning on the football field, on the baseball diamond and on the basketball court.

Since that time, this honoree has continued to excel in his endeavors in professional athletics, in the business world and through contributions to his community.

Roger Staubach’s body was long and lean, but his real talents were in his soul. When legendary Penn State coach Joe Paterno was asked what made “Jolly Roger” so good, Paterno shook his head and said: “I have no idea. If I did, I’d pass it on to my team.”

Staubach’s passing, honored with a Heisman Trophy, guided Navy to two landmark victories over archrival Army, the first coming in 1962. John F. Kennedy was on hand, and the President watched Navy’s commander-in-chief pick apart the Army defense.

Playing in front of a national TV audience for the first time, Staubach’s passing gave Navy the early lead. Then Staubach showcased the skills that earned him the nickname “Roger the Dodger.” Staubach wasn’t fast so much as quick, and no defense could hem him in. The pocket was wherever Staubach chose to make it. By game’s end, Staubach had passed for two touchdowns and run for two more in Navy’s 34-14 rout.

The 1963 Army-Navy classic was postponed one week to allow the nation to grieve for the recently assassinated President Kennedy. Staubach then proceeded to honor the fallen president and former Naval officer by guiding the Midshipmen to 21 unanswered points. Though he didn’t score himself, this draw helped give them a 14-point cushion. In the closing seconds, Army moved the ball down near the Navy end zone, but when the Cadets couldn’t get a play off in the final seconds, Navy escaped with the win.

Staubach also played basketball and baseball at the Naval Academy, earning four letters in his two auxiliary pursuits. He batted over .400 during his sophomore year while playing a mean center field. Following graduation, Staubach spent four years on active duty in the Navy before moving on to a professional career with the Dallas Cowboys.

During his 11 NFL seasons, he helped make the Cowboys “America’s Team,” and Staubach was America’s quarterback. He was a natural leader who seemed to improve the skill of those around him.

Staubach was Houdini in spikes, an escape artist with his own bag of tricks. He could “scramble,” and it was the opposition who was left with “egg on its face.”

Staubach captained the Cowboys to two Super Bowl titles, and he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985. The magic of this man is best summed up by something Navy basketball coach Ben Carnevalle said when another Navy official complained that Staubach was no basketball player. “No”, shot back Carnevalle, “he’s a winner.” (Applause)

Now, ladies and gentlemen, I call upon Mr. Charles Wethington to present the NCAA Theodore Roosevelt Award to Roger Staubach, the chairman and chief executive officer of the Staubach Corporation.

Mr. Wethington:

Thank you, Bob. Roger, it is my pleasure to present to you the Theodore Roosevelt Award, the highest honor the NCAA confers upon an individual. This award is presented to you in recognition of your lifetime of success in football, business and philanthropy; as a Hall of Fame quarterback; CEO; and community leader.

Ladies and gentlemen, an outstanding individual, Roger Staubach. (Applause)


Mr. Staubach:

Thank you, Charles. It is a privilege to be here tonight. Since they showed those films up there of the ‘63 Army-Navy game, the guy who scored the three touchdowns that year was Pat Donnelly. Pat is sitting out there. (Applause) We reminisced today at the Donnelly home. We had a few old Naval Academy football players at his home and we were telling all kinds of sea stories and had a great time today.

It has been a great weekend in San Diego. I want to thank the Executive Committee of the NCAA and the Honors Committee, and also congratulate all the award winners here tonight. When you get older, I am not sure if you get more humble or sometimes you don’t get as humble as you should be, but it is humbling to be around the youth who are here and the talents in this audience.

I thank Pat for his kind words. He is an eloquent speaker, he is a Rhodes scholar, a lawyer and he is one heck of a quarterback. I also want to thank the friends who are here tonight to honor me, and also everyone in this audience who are here to honor all the recipients tonight.

I want to thank the U.S. Naval Academy for allowing me to go to the U.S. Naval Academy. It was a school that has meant the world to me, and I have said many times that I was always proud to run on the football field as a Dallas Cowboy. When they introduced you, they gave the college and they said, “Roger Staubach, Navy.”

I enjoyed my time at the Naval Academy and my four years in the Naval service. I thank Admiral Ryan for coming tonight. He is here with Captain Stufflebeem and myself. I want to thank Jack Lengyel and Tom Bates, who I guess put all the stuff together that went before the Executive Committee and the Honors Committee to select me for this award.

You know, it is an award at the end. You kind of move through the youth to the old guy. I used to sit out there and watch Chad throw that football up on the screen. I am very jealous of that talent that you are going to see in the National Football League.

As you get older—Mike Garrett was talking to me earlier—he said: “Roger, do you remember the SC game when you played Navy?” I am thinking, “Mike, yeah, I remember that. Do I look that old?” (Laughter) Someone came up to me and mentioned that the Cowboys lost today and this is the 25th anniversary of the “Hail Mary” pass when we beat Minnesota in Minnesota. I threw a ball to Drew Pearson and we won it at the end of the game.

After the game, the Catholic kid from Cincinnati, I said: “I closed my eyes and said a Hail Mary.” Drew never admitted to pushing off, and we won that game. I intentionally underthrew him and someone asked, “Do you remember that game?” I am thinking, do I remember that game?

I remember when we played Assumption in grade school and I ran the opening kickoff back. When you get older, you get a little worried.

That reminds me of a story. There were two couples who were driving down the road. They are getting a little older and forgetful at times. The two guys were in the front seat and the two gals were in the back seat. The two guys are talking back and forth. One guy said to the other guy: “You know, we went to this Italian restaurant last night. Man, it was fantastic. The food was really good, the music, the ambience, it was just a great Italian restaurant.”

The other guy said: “What was the name of that restaurant?” He said: “Oh, man, what was the name of that restaurant? What is that long-stemmed flower that has thorns on it and it smells really good?” The guy said: “Well, that is a rose.” He looked in the back seat and said: “Hey, Rose, what was the name of that restaurant?” (Laughter)

I will tell you what, I won’t forget my wife. She is here tonight. Mary Ann is here and she was at that Assumption game. That is how far we go back. She was at all the Naval Academy games. We have been married for 35 years. (Applause) I thank her.

She is a great big part of this award. Jim McCarthy, when I was in high school, decided to switch me to quarterback. I didn’t want to play quarterback. I was a receiver, a defensive back. So my senior year in high school I played quarterback. I told him that I didn’t want to play. He said: “Roger, I want you to play quarterback. The other guys listen to you. I want you to be the quarterback.” I worked at it and I decided to give it my best and by January of that year I worked on it until I started as a senior and, you know, it was great. I enjoyed being a quarterback. The girls liked me after the game more. He changed my life, because he wanted me to be a quarterback.

I thank him and, of course, at the Naval Academy, Wayne Hart helped me develop as a quarterback. I had a great mentor with the Dallas Cowboys who was the very best in Tom Landry. I thank them for all they have done for me and are very responsible for this award, and the teammates and the others who played a role in my career.

One thing that has been mentioned is balance. Pat mentioned it. Last year, I read Bill Richardson’s speech and he mentioned it. He referred to Teddy Roosevelt as his balance. Balance is a theme of many of the 20th century books that have come out that I have been reading. In getting this award, I read about Teddy Roosevelt as President from 1901 to 1909—the Rough Riders and all his stuff. He was quite a character.

But the thing that stands out was his toughness and his compassion. I have really tried to emphasize that in building the business. Also, in getting older you have got to have balance in your life. Balance is difficult because it is always “what is in it for me?”

There is a side of you that is driven. I have had that side and it is the side that your aggressiveness, your competitiveness comes out. There is nothing wrong with that as long as it is balanced with a side that puts you in other people’s shoes and has compassion and has the ability to understand where someone else is coming from. If you don’t have that, there is the side that is always what is in it for me that will be dominant. I think you almost become a destructive achiever.

You look good, you sound good, but there is some arrogance and there is an insensitivity. It leads to not understanding people as far as their gender or the color of their skin, or even their religion and the respect that we should have for each other.

There is a lack of respect for each other that is very, very concerning in this world today and even in our own country. Balance means that you do say what is in it for me, but at the same time you can’t do it by yourself. You have to work on the side of ability that does have compassion for other people and understand where they are coming from. That is not easy to do because the natural side is always what’s in it for me.

I really believe that sports teaches you the ability to get that balance. I think the NCAA is always fighting that balance as far as gender equity in sports and the ability to balance the athlete with education. It is a constant struggle in life as human beings with our frailties and our wonderful qualities to also get that balance.

I think sports teaches you the ability to appreciate someone other than just yourself. It teaches the importance of teamwork. It teaches the importance of respecting people who are of different skin color, different gender and even of different religions as far as the respect that is needed and the compassion we have for each other.

Teddy Roosevelt did have this toughness. He did have compassion. I think sport also has taught me to work each and every day to understand if I get up and don’t appreciate the work I have to do, I won’t get my life in balance, because it is an every day constant struggle.

The NCAA creates an opportunity that deals with its own issues to be able to give us an opportunity in sport to realize the importance that we have to each other. It is a privilege to represent the NCAA and to represent Theodore Roosevelt. He and I went to high school together. (Laughter)

To represent him in this award and also my friends and, of course, family who are here tonight, it is a tremendous privilege for me to receive this award. Thank you very much.

[The assembly extended a prolonged standing ovation.]

Mr. Ley:

Thank you very much, Roger. It is a pretty good evening for Navy. We have several people here from the home port of San Diego. As a tribute to Roger’s alma mater, please join me in recognizing the director of athletics at the U.S. Naval Academy, Jack Lengyel.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Charles and all the good folks at the NCAA for the invitation to join you this evening. I have been thoroughly entertained by the people I have met, the stories we have all learned together and the lives that we have saluted because they certainly exemplify the very best in America and the very best in college athletics. Thank you very much for the invitation to be with you. I would like to turn the program back to Charles. (Applause)

Mr. Wethington:

Thank you very much, Bob, for what I think was a terrific job in helping us to pay tribute to these outstanding honorees. We really appreciate your taking time to be here with us tonight. As a token of our appreciation, the NCAA will make a donation to your alma mater, Seton Hall University’s radio station, WSOU, in your name. I think both you and Seton Hall deserve a round of applause. (Applause)

Mr. Wethington, Charles T., Jr.

This has been a very special evening. For your information, tonight’s festivities will air in an ESPN special Friday, February 4, at 1 p.m. Eastern time.

I want to again say “thank you” to all the award winners, particularly for allowing us to enjoy and relish in your accomplishments.

To bring a close to this special evening, Amy Huchthausen will present the benediction.


Ms. Huchthausen:

As we depart, we offer our thanks for blessing us this evening. May that blessing continue to inspire us all to follow our dreams; encourage us to persist; and grant us the opportunity to excel. Let us be strong as we continue to search for the balance and joy that will allow us to fulfill our lives. Finally, grant us love, hope and peace for all the rest of our days.


Mr. Wethington:

Thank you, Amy, and thank you all very much. Have a good evening and a happy new year.

[The banquet was concluded at 9:50 p.m.]