The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Monday named UCF’s Richard Lapchick as one of three recipients of the 2012 Mannie Jackson – Basketball’s Human Spirit Award.
Lapchick, who is the director of UCF’s DeVos Sport Business Management program and founder of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, was chosen to receive this year’s award along with NBA player Grant Hill of the Phoenix Suns and University of Connecticut men’s coach Jim Calhoun. The announcement was made at the NCAA Final Four.
The award is presented to individuals who strive to improve the community they serve, make an ongoing commitment to others, and reflect Jackson’s mission to overcome obstacles while seeking the highest standard of excellence. Jackson founded the Executive Leadership Council and owns the Harlem Globetrotters.
The three will be recognized Sept. 6 in Springfield, Mass., during events leading up to the 2012 Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremonies.
“It is very humbling to receive this award. It reinforces the importance the DeVos Sport Business Management Program places on service, and that sport can bring about positive social change,” said Lapchick, whose father was inducted into the Hall of Fame. “Growing up, my Dad was my best friend and role model. The fact that he was inducted 50 years ago makes this even more special.”
The Hall of Fame website said 6-foot-5 Joe Lapchick, the award-winner’s father, was “the game’s first true agile big man.” He played professionally before the NBA formed, coached St. John’s University to four NIT championships in 20 seasons, and coached the New York Knicks to three NBA Finals appearances.
Richard Lapchick has been described as “the social conscience of sport” and is the only person named as “One of the 100 Most Powerful People in Sport” to head up a sport management program. He also is president and CEO of the National Consortium for Academics and Sport and helped bring the organization’s national office to UCF.
In 2006, Lapchick, his wife and daughter and a group of DeVos students formed the Hope for Stanley Alliance, which organizes student-athletes and sports-management students to go to New Orleans to work in the reconstruction efforts in the hurricane-devastated Ninth Ward. He was named an honorary citizen by the New Orleans City Council in 2007.
The DeVos Program also did a project for the Hall of Fame on the history of African-American basketball players before the integration of the NBA, which led to a committee that chooses one player from that era to be inducted each year. He serves on that committee.
Jackson said this year’s recipients are outstanding choices. “We are proud to honor three of the most deserving selections since the award was established,” he said. “Having known all three personally, I admire their sustained work and contributions to both the game of basketball and their communities.”
Lapchick said he was surprised last week when he received a call from the executive director at the Hall of Fame saying that an announcement of the recipients would be made during the Final Four. There were six finalists for the award.
The Hall of Fame names three recipients of the award each year. Lapchick was the award recipient chosen from the “grassroots” category.
Chosen from the professional category was Hill, who is known for his positive attitude, strong work ethic and high moral values. He has worked with Special Olympics, has raised money for medical services for needy children, and worked with other programs. “Hill has routinely left his mark in a number of cities where he played professionally,” the Hall of Fame said. “He lends his support not only to a variety of national issues but to local issues as well.”
Chosen from the amateur category was Calhoun, who has devoted his time and money to help raise millions of dollars for cancer research and education. He also leads a holiday food drive for those in need and has served as honorary chairman for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005.