KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Oklahoma Baptist University followed up its finest accomplishment as an athletic department with its best rating ever in character-building.
OBU, winner of the 2012-13 Learfield Sports Director's Cup as the top-performing athletics department in the NAIA, is the top-scoring NAIA Champions of Character Five-Star Institution this year with a 99 out of 100 on the Champions of Character Scorecard.
"We're honored to be the highest-scoring university among a group of schools all striving to be the best they can be," said OBU Athletics Director Robert Davenport. "It confirms what we already knew about OBU and its coaches; that we care about the right things. Coming on the heels of the Learfield Sports Director's Cup award it means a little more. We didn't cut any corners in the area of character development. This is an important honor to the department, to the university, its coaches and its student-athletes. We need to especially thank our Champions of Character liaison Dale Griffin for all of his input and hard work behind the scenes."
The Champions of Character Scorecard measures each institution's commitment to the NAIA Champions of Character program. Points are earned in five key areas: character training, conduct in competition, character recognition, academic focus and character promotion.
OBU athletes and coaches participated in a department-wide community service day last fall and each team was responsible for a service day or charity fundraiser on their own. OBU also has regularly-scheduled Champions of Character chapel services. The OBU athlete grade point average was over 3.00.
This year, more than 80 percent of NAIA member institutions scored the 60 points necessary to be named Five-Star Champions of Character Institutions. Beyond Oklahoma Baptist, top performers include: Central Methodist University (Mo.) and Columbia College (S.C), who tied for second with 98 total points, and California State University-Maritime and Edward Waters College (Fla.), who tied for fourth with 97 points.
Cornerstone University (Mich.), with 103 points in 2009-10 and 2010-11, and Montana Tech of the University of Montana, with 100 points in 2011-12, were the previous top-scoring NAIA Champions of Character Five-Star Institutions.
In total, 217 schools were named Five-Star Champions of Character institutions for 2012-13. Among these honorees were 23 NAIA-member schools that have been recognized as Champions of Character Institutions (2002-09) and Champions of Character Five Star Institutions (2010-13) every year since the inception of the institutional award.
These high-achieving institutions are: Aquinas College (Mich.), Baker University (Kan.), Blue Mountain College (Miss.), Bluefield College (Va.), Briarcliff University (Iowa), Central Methodist University (Mo.), Concordia University (Ore.), Goshen College (Ind.), Indiana Institute of Technology, John Brown University (Ark.), Lindsey Wilson College (Ky.), Lyon College (Ark.) MidAmerica Nazarene University (Kan.), Milligan College (Tenn.), Morris College (S.C.), Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.), College of the Ozarks (Mo.), Park University (Mo.), Purdue University North Central (Ind.), University of Rio Grande (Ohio), Taylor University (Ind.) and Wayland Baptist University (Texas).
This year, NAIA-member institutions average a 67.48 score on the Champions of Character Scorecard, which is comparable to the 2011-12 mark of 67.63. However, among Five-Star Champions of Character Institutions, the average score is 73.55—an improvement of over a point from last years' figure of 71.91.
The biggest change from last year came in the conduct in competition category. For the 2011-12 season, NAIA programs accumulated 630 ejections. That number dropped to 578 for 2012-13.
For the second-straight year, all 23 NAIA Conferences were named Five Star Champions of Character Conferences. This distinction is bestowed on every conference in which 60 percent of the member institutions earn Champions of Character Five Star Institution status.
The American Midwest Conference, Golden State Athletic Conference, Heart of America Athletic Conference, Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference, Midwest Collegiate Conference, North Star Athletic Association, Southern States Athletic Conference and The Sun Conference shared top billing with each conference having 100 percent of its member schools make the grade. The Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference and The Sun Conference were repeat 100 percent conferences from a year ago.
Since 1937, the NAIA has administered programs and championships in proper balance with the overall educational experience. In 2000, the NAIA reaffirmed its purpose to enhance the character-building aspects of sport. Through the Champions of Character program, the NAIA seeks to create an environment in which every student-athlete, coach, official and spectator is committed to the true spirit of competition through five core values: integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership.