Leaders in sports business, administration, media, medicine and coaching were honored in a ceremony at the United States Sports Academy Friday afternoon.
Honorary doctorates were given to Guo Jie, president of WorldTeam Sports in China, and Jack Lengyel, former Marshall University head football coach and athletic director at the United States Naval Academy.
Also honored in the Awards of Sport Medallion Series were syndicated sports business columnist Evan Weiner, with the Ronald Reagan Media Award; and University of Alabama Assistant Athletic Director for Football Mike Vollmar, Alumnus of the Year. University of South Alabama head baseball coach Steve Kittrell and prosthetic specialist Kevin Carroll received Distinguished Service Awards from the Academy.
Guo is the inventor of Nine-Star sports shoes and owns China’s largest chain of athletic apparel stores, SportsCube. He was the first sport sponsor of the 11th Asian Games and helped purchase the first Chinese-owned Formula One racing team. He is a major partner in NBA operations in China.
“I am very happy to be a part of the Academy and will try very hard to continue to work with it in the future,” Guo said.
Prior to the presentation, Academy President and CEO Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich announced that Guo will be developing three major golf courses in China and has signed a protocol with the Academy to develop management programs for those courses over the next decade.
Lengyel was the coach who helped rebuild the Marshall football program after the 1970 plane crash that killed nearly all of the varsity players, coaches and many prominent members of the community of Huntington, W.V.
“I accept the award on behalf of the 75 people who were killed on that plane crash – including 24 boosters, players and coaches – and the 70 children who were left without one parent and the 18 who had no parents,” Lengyel said. “I am proud to have been a part of laying the foundation for rebuilding Marshall’s football program, a process that had many fathers.”
Weiner is known for his columns on the business and politics of sports and has been a contributor to Newsday, the New York Sun, The Orlando Sentinel, Metro Philadelphia, Metro New York and the Washington Examiner.
“I knew Howard Cosell very well,” Weiner said, referring to the legendary sportscaster who won the first Ronald Reagan Award in 1984, 11 years before his death. “When I heard I had won this award I imagined myself telling Howard about me winning this award. He would probably have said ‘Congratulations. You were the latest, but I was the first.’”
Carroll is the vice president of Hanger Prosthetics, a company disabled athletes turn to for prosthetic innovations that meet the challenges of elite completion. Rosandich congratulated him not only for what he has done for athletes, but also for wounded warriors who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Kittrell, who is entering his final season as USA baseball coach, is one of only 50 college baseball coaches to win more than 1,000 games. His teams had 18 NCAA regional appearances, 10 Sun Belt Conference championships and eight Sun Belt Conference tournament titles.
Vollmar received a master’s degree in sports management from the Academy in 1989, as did his presenter, Linda Moore, an Academy trustee and senior director for franchise development at ESPN.
“We must have been a really great class,” Moore said.
“The Academy was a pioneer in sports administration and continues to be a leader in that area,” Vollmar said.
The Academy presents awards each year, including its Awards of Sport, to pay tribute to those who have made significant contributions to sport, in categories as diverse as the artist and the athlete in several different arenas of sport. The awards have expanded over the years to honor exemplary achievement in coaching, all-around athletic performance, courage, humanitarian activity, fitness and media, as well as the top professional athletes of the year.
The Academy and American Sports Art Museum and Archives annually recognize these men and women through its Sport Artist of the Year, Honorary Doctorates, Distinguished Service Awards, Medallion Series, Outstanding Athletes, Team of the Year, and Alumni of the Year awards.
Honorees may be nominated by any of the Academy’s worldwide constituents. This assemblage includes administration, alumni, faculty, national faculty, staff, students and members of various organizations and boards that work closely with the Academy on this special project. Following the nomination process, honorees are selected by the Awards of Sport Committee, a special group within the Academy that is comprised of the President’s Cabinet and other staff members with a vested interest and an extensive knowledge of sports and the arts.