SPRINGFIELD, Mass. --- University of Connecticut men’s basketball coach Jim Calhoun was honored by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Thursday night as a recipient of the Mannie Jackson -- Basketball’s Human Spirit Award.
Calhoun, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005, received the honor along with Phoenix Suns guard Grant Hill and Dr. Richard Lapchick, the founder and director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport.
The trio was recognized during the Hall’s annual Hall of Famer Family Reunion Dinner, one of the main events of Enshrinement Week activities, which culminate with the induction ceremony of the 2012 Hall of Fame Class. Thursday’s dinner welcomed the members of the incoming class, returning Hall of Famers, basketball celebrities, Hall of Fame Trustees, and honored the recipients of the John Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award, the Curt Gowdy Media Awards, and the Chairman’s Cup, along with the Mannie Jackson -- Basketball’s Human Spirit Award winners.
“I’m thrilled and honored to accept this award,” Calhoun said to the audience. “It’s a special night for all of us.”
The criteria for the Jackson Award 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.”
Calhoun, a Division I head coach for 40 years, including the last 26 at UConn, and his fellow honorees represent the professional, amateur, and grassroots levels of basketball. They were chosen by a selection committee and by Jackson himself , who is chairman of the board and owner of 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.
“With all that Mannie Jackson achieved,” Calhoun said, “he made sure that he reached back to bring many others along on that path. I’m proud to get an award in his name.”
Calhoun is one of only five men’s Division I coaches to win three NCAA championships. He ranks sixth all-time, third among active coaches, with 873 wins and his UConn teams have won 17 BIG EAST regular season and tournament titles. In addition to his Hall of Fame induction seven years ago, 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 his 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 more than $1 million for the Connecticut Food Bank and Foodshare. Since 1994, Calhoun has also served as honorary chairman for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and has been a national spokesman for Autism Awareness.
“My dad said to me that you never stand so tall as when you stoop to help another and I’ve always kept as my creed,” Calhoun said. “My career in basketball has given me a great podium to reach out. From Northeastern University and certainly what we’ve done at UConn over the past 26 years, has allowed me to use our program, our players, our school, our success to be in a position to give. I’m a lucky guy.”