INDIANAPOLIS – The NCAA Committee on Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct has announced that Southern New Hampshire University cross country student-athletes Tyler Parks (Moultonborough, N.H.) and Mike Smith (Lynnfield, Mass.) are the 2009-10 male winners of the NCAA Student-Athlete Sportsmanship Award. Parks and Smith, along with the volleyball team at Northwestern (Minn.), the female winners of the award, were selected from among six finalists representing all three NCAA divisions.
Other finalists included Division I winner, the Stanford women’s rowing team, Division II winner Neely Spence, a women’s cross country student-athlete at Shippensburg, and Division III winner Chris Perry, a golf student-athlete at Penn State-Altoona.
Each of the nominees exemplified the good sportsmanship that characterizes the highest level of respect, caring, fairness, civility, honesty, integrity and responsibility during competition.
“Tyler and Mike helped a fallen runner because it was the right thing to do. It was a selfless act,” said SNHU Director of Athletics Chip Polak. “They never anticipated or expected to receive recognition. To be honored by the Northeast-10 and to receive the NCAA’s highest honor makes this simple act extraordinary. I am extremely proud to have Tyler and Mike representing SNHU.”
“Our winners this year and every year exemplify positive sportsmanship that emphasizes the highest level of respect and integrity during competition throughout the Association and the nation,” said John Blanchard, chair of the sportsmanship committee and senior associate athletics director at the University of North Carolina.
Parks and Smith will receive their award in an on-campus ceremony during the fall. Details will be announced at a later date.
On Saturday, October 10, 2009, Parks and Smith were competing for the SNHU men's cross country team at Boston's Franklin Park in the New England Championship when they came across an unconscious Boston University runner at approximately the 3.5 mile mark of the eight-kilometer course.
The pair stopped to assist the runner, who was face down, and after initial efforts to wake him by yelling at him, Parks and Smith took a hold of him. The runner regained consciousness and remembered his name, but could not remember where he was until the pair told him.
Each with one of the runner's arms over his shoulders, both Smith and Parks proceeded to carefully take the runner out of the woods to an area with more spectators and to the nearest medical tent. His legs were weak and he was unable to walk on his own, but the two escorted him out of the woods to find an ambulance pulling up in preparation to take the runner away.
The BU runner was running a time of 28 minutes for the five-mile course, so when Parks and Smith reached him at the 29-minute mark, they speculate the runner had been there for three to four minutes, and that possibly more than 100 runners had already passed the unconscious athlete.
The unconscious runner turned out to be fine, as he was suffering from dehydration.
As a result of their act, neither Parks nor Smith finished the race, leaving Southern New Hampshire with just five runners, the minimum required to post a team score.
Earlier, Parks and Smith were honored with the Northeast-10 Conference Male Sportsmanship Award in June, and also received the SNHU Male Sportsmanship Award at the University’s year-end athletics awards banquet in April.