February 25, 2014

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BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – On Tuesday the Ohio Valley Conference announced that the University of Tennessee at Martin is the recipient of the 2013-14 Team Sportsmanship Award for rifle.

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 2013-14 school year marks the ninth year the team sportsmanship honors have been awarded.

This season the UT Martin mixed team finished third at the OVC Championship while the women’s squad was sixth. It marks the fourth time the UTM program has won the award; the Skyhawks were also honored in 2008, 2010 and 2012.

“Justin Grinolds (assistant coach) and I have known all season that we have a very special group of young men and women, not only athletically but also academically and as fine ladies and gentlemen. It is deeply gratifying to learn that the other student-athletes around the conference recognize this as well,” said UT Martin head rifle coach Bob Beard.

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.

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