April 3, 2012
STORRS, Conn. - University of Connecticut men’s basketball coach Jim Calhoun will be honored by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this fall as a recipient of The Mannie Jackson – Basketball’s Human Spirit Award.
Calhoun will join Phoenix Suns guard Grant Hill and Dr. Richard Lapchick, the founder and director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, as this year’s winners of the award, the criteria of which includes “embracing the core values of the game through hard work, dedication, and resilience; striving to continuously improve the community they serve, and making an ongoing commitment to others.”
“I’m honored to receive this award, particularly given the fact that one of my favorite collegiate and pro basketball players, Grant Hill, and Richard Lapchick, who has done an awful lot for collegiate athletics, are also being honored,” Calhoun said. “And most importantly, it is named for Mannie Jackson, who I think epitomizes a truly successful student-athlete and is one of the more successful sports business people in America.”
The three recipients represent the professional, amateur, and grassroots levels of basketball. They were chosen from a group of six finalists by a selection committee and Jackson himself, who is chairman of the board and owner or the Harlem Globetrotters and a former chairman of the board of trustees of the Hall of Fame. Those chosen must reflect the values of Jackson’s lifelong mission to overcome obstacles and challenge the status quo, while taking responsibility for personal actions and seeking the highest standard of excellence.
“This year’s winners of The Mannie Jackson --- Basketball’s Human Spirit Award are truly exceptional individuals,” said Hall of Fame president and CEO John Doleva. “They have each greatly contributed to the improving of their communities and constituencies they serve.”
The recipients will be recognized on Sept. 6, during events leading up to the Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremonies in Springfield, Mass. Calhoun was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005.
“We are proud to honor three of the most deserving selections since the award was established,” Jackson said. “Having known all three personally, I admire their sustained work and contributions to both the game of basketball and their communities.”
Calhoun, one of only five men’s collegiate coaches to win three NCAA national championships, ranks sixth all-time with 873 victories and his UConn teams have won 18 BIG EAST Conference titles. In a career that spans 40 years as a Division I head coach, the last 26 at UConn, he has received the prestigious John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching Award and is a four-time BIG EAST Coach of the Year.
Off the court, Calhoun has devoted countless hours to help many charitable causes, including raising millions of dollars for cancer research and education. In 1998, he and wife Pat established the Calhoun Cardiology Research Fund at the UConn Health Center and each year, the Calhoun family hosts the Holiday Food Drive, which has raised over $1 million for the Connecticut Food Bank and Foodshare. Since 1994, Calhoun has also served as the honorary chairman for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and has been a national spokesman for Autism Awareness.
“The award means a great deal to me because it honors those of us who give back as we should to others,” Calhoun said. “There’s probably very few things in my life, excluding my family and basketball, that I get more pleasure out of doing than to be able to help others.”
Previous winners of the award include The V Foundation for Cancer Research, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, former Georgetown stars Dikembe Mutombo and Alonzo Mourning, former NBA stars David Robinson and Bob Lanier and Philadelphia hoop legend Sonny Hill, and current NBA players Chauncey Billups and Samuel Dalembert.