The Missouri football team, Tennessee men’s basketball team, Georgia equestrian team and the women’s golf coaches of the Southeastern Conference are recipients of the seventh annual SEC Sportsmanship Awards, the conference office announced Thursday.
The four groups were chosen by a vote of the SEC Directors of Athletics. The Mizzou Tiger football team and Volunteer men’s basketball team tied for the male award while the Bulldog equestrian team and the women’s golf coaches of the conference tied for the female honor.
“Sportsmanship, civility and social responsibility are marks of character that last a lifetime,” said SEC Commissioner Mike Slive. “We are proud of these teams from Missouri, Tennessee and Georgia and the women’s golf coaches of the SEC for setting an example for us all.”
The University of Missouri received acclaim for the way its football team supported and protected teammate Michael Sam during the 2013 season. Unknown to the outside world, Sam told his teammates in August pre-season camp of his sexual orientation. Sam determined that he did not want to disclose that fact publicly until after the 2013 season was over. His teammates respected those wishes while they accepted and supported him throughout the 2013 season.
In the days leading up to Tennessee’s NCAA Tournament game against Iowa in Dayton, it was reported that Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery’s 13-year-old son, Patrick, required surgery to remove a tumor from his thyroid. The surgery took place the morning of the game and McCaffery flew to Iowa City that morning for the surgery before returning to Dayton for the game that night. Tennessee rallied from a 12-point deficit to win in overtime. Immediately following the final buzzer, Tennessee’s coaches and players refrained from extensive celebration so they could each talk to McCaffery, give him a heartfelt hug and express their sympathy. McCaffery acknowledged the support received from the Tennessee basketball team in his post-game press conference.
The 2014 SEC Equestrian Championship came down to the final ride between Georgia and South Carolina. Due to a scoring error, Georgia received the SEC championship shirts and began celebrating what was thought to be the program’s first SEC title. It was soon determined that there was a scoring miscalculation due to a clerical error and South Carolina was the correct champion of the SEC. At the awards ceremony, Georgia captains asked if they could present the South Carolina team with the shirts they had initially received.
When Auburn women’s golf coach Kim Evans was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the spring of 2013, her coaching counterparts in the SEC went into action to show support, weaving a net of encouragement and care for their ailing colleague. They wore ribbons and rally socks, sported teal watches in support of ovarian cancer victims, put their teams in the colors of teal and pink for cancer awareness, and embroidered special shirts in honor of Evans. Through these efforts the SEC coaches showed the young women playing in their programs how to support and encourage a friend in need. The three male head coaches in the SEC even shaved their heads to support Evans while her hair was thin during treatment.
Below is a list of SEC Sportsmanship recipients:
2014 – University of Missouri Football Team; Tennessee Men’s Basketball Team; University of Georgia Equestrian Team; SEC Women’s Golf Coaches
2013 – University of Tennessee and University of South Carolina Football Teams; Maho Kowase, Georgia (Tennis)
2012 – Matt Walters, Arkansas (Tennis); Joanna Mather, Florida (Tennis); Laura Eddy, Georgia (Soccer)
2011 – Louis Day, South Carolina (Track & Field); Ole Miss Softball Team
2010 – Rodney Scott, Ole Miss (Football); Sam Arbaugh, South Carolina (Softball)
2009 – Dorian Ulrey, Arkansas (Track & Field); Alabama Women’s Tennis Team
2008 – Chris Lofton, Tennessee (Basketball); Jessica Yadloczky, Florida (Golf)