June 20, 2009
Orlando, Fla. (www.UCFAthletics.com) - Last October, Keunta "Kiki" Miles, a former standout for the UCF women's basketball program was named one of five winners for the the ninth annual John McLendon Memorial Minority Postgraduate Scholarship Awards. She was again recognized on Saturday evening during the Second Annual McLendon Hall of Fame Reception at the Orlando World Center Marriott, in conjunction with the annual NACDA Convention.
The star-studded event served to honor the legacy of the late pioneer John McLendon, who meant so much to so many people. The evening was as much of a celebration of his pioneering efforts and inventive ideas on the hardwood as a descendent of Mr. Naismith as it was a celebration of the accomplishments of the men and women seated on the dais being recognized for their McLendon-like attributes that allowed them to have the impact they were able to have on their respective sports.
UCF's Miles, who presently serves as an assistant basketball coach with the University of North Florida's women's basketball team, was joined by:
Keenan Blalark, Northern Illinois
Alejandra Diaz-Calderon, Notre Dame
Araceli Ortiz, Stanford
Carl Pendleton II, Oklahoma
-- Diaz-Calderon is currently a post-graduate student in UCF's DeVos program.
The winners each received a $10,000 grant to be used towards postgraduate studies in athletics administration. Funding for the scholarship program has been provided in part by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA); the Cleveland Cavaliers; Major League Baseball (MLB); the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC); the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA); the National Basketball Association (NBA); the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA); and Sears, Roebuck and Co.
Minorities (as defined by federal guidelines) who intend to pursue a postgraduate degree in athletics administration are eligible for these scholarships. Students were required to have a minimum grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale and have demonstrated leadership qualities on an institutional or community level.
The McLendon Hall of Fame Reception also served as the backdrop for the induction of sports finest pioneering figures. With former Sun Sports broadcaster Charles Davis serving as emccee, inducted were Alvin Attles, vice president/assistant general manager of the Golden State Warriors; Anita DeFrantz, former president of the International Olympic Committee; Dr. Bernard Franklin, NCAA executive vice president on NCAA membership and student-athlete affairs and past president of three HBCU's; Willie O'Ree, director of youth development for the NHL/USA Hockey Diversity Task Force and the first black player in the National Hockey League; Gale Sayers, the first African-American athletics director in Division I at Southern Illinois; Gene Washington, retired NFL Director of Football Operations; and Bob Watson, MLB vice president of on-field operations and the first African-American general manager in MLB with the Houston Astros.
Speaking on behalf of all Hall of Fame inductees was Gene Washington, who stressed the mission of the John McLendon Minority Scholarship Foundation that, since its inception, has been driven by the vision of its founder Mike Cleary.
"When you think about the McLendon Foundation and other minority organizations, it takes [the efforts of] an entire community," Washington stated. "And I'd like to give a shout out to Mike Cleary, the heart and soul of this organization...We now have 14 minorities heading major institutions across the country, and that's due in large part to minority helpers such as himself, but it takes an entire community to make that happen."
The Bud Selig Mentoring Award is given annually to a deserving athletics administrator who has been at the forefront of creating opportunities for young minorities seeking to enter the field of athletics administration. This award description could double as the epitaph down the road for the 2009 recipient, as former University of Georgia (UGA) Director of Athletics Vince Dooley embodies each and every word. Upon receiving his award, the UGA legend spoke on what it meant to him to be surrounded by so many people of influence, courage and honor.
"I've always wanted to be in the big leagues," Dooley stated. "To be introduced by Bob Watson, a baseball legend; receiving an award named after the baseball commissioner; and being in the presence of all of these Hall of Famers, I'd say that's in the big leagues."
In true humble fashion, Dooley went on to say that every minority athlete and athletics administrator that he hired over his tenure provided their opportunities for themselves. Tubby Smith, the first African-American coach he hired; Willie McLendon, the first African-American he ever coached to be named to captain; legendary running back Herschel Walker; and current Georgia AD Damon Evans all put themselves in positions to excel and deserved their opportunities as much, if not more, than anyone in the business.
UCF Director of Athletics Keith Tribble served this past year as Chair of the 2008-09 Division I-A McLendon Scholarship Steering Committee. On serving on this committee were:
University at Buffalo
Eastern Michigan University
Florida International University
University of Georgia
New Mexico State University
Ohio State University
University of North Texas
University of Southern California
United States Military Academy
University of Virginia
University of Wisconsin