BIRMINGHAM, ALA. – University of South Carolina track and field athlete Louis Day and the Ole Miss softball team have been named recipients of the 4th annual SEC Sportsmanship Award, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive announced Wednesday. The winners will be forwarded for nomination to the NCAA for its national sportsmanship awards, to be announced in July.
The two were chosen by a vote of the SEC Directors of Athletics.
“Participation in sport teaches life’s lessons that benefit our student-athletes,” said Slive. “Demonstrating good sportsmanship is something that will benefit student-athletes for years after their playing careers are over. I congratulate Louis and the Ole Miss softball team for showing good sportsmanship and earning this prestigious honor.”
Louis Day’s act of sportsmanship was at the SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships. Day became aware, along with his coach (Mike Sergent), that event officials misread the distance of his throw in the weight throw competition. The error placed him in the nine-person final.
Day, along with Coach Sergent, felt that it would be unfair to be placed into the final round. When no action was taken by officials, in accordance with NCAA and SEC Track and Field protocol, Coach Sergent protested Day’s performance to ensure the true top nine throwers could compete for the SEC Championship. After reviewing the protest, the head field event referee determined the most appropriate action was to advance both individuals, setting up a ten-person final.
“Although Louis did not win a championship during this event,” said South Carolina Director of Athletics Eric Hyman, “his sportsmanship is that of a champion.”
After the tornados that struck Alabama and Mississippi in April, 2011, the Ole Miss softball team felt it important to reach out to their counterparts at the University of Alabama and help them in any way possible.
The Rebels and Crimson Tide were scheduled to play a three-game series in Oxford just nine days after the devastating tornados of April 27 hit Tuscaloosa.
During the week leading up to the games, members of the Ole Miss softball team, led by captains Brittany Barnhill and Amanda Hutcheson and the Ole Miss coaching staff, decided to make a contribution to the University of Alabama’s Acts of Kindness Fund. The donation was made to the Tide softball team prior to the first game of the series.
“The recent tornados in Mississippi and Alabama demonstrated to us that softball is just a game and life is the most important thing,” said Barnhill. “We may be competitors on the field, but we are all members of the SEC and that makes us a family.”
Last year, Ole Miss football player Rodney Scott and South Carolina softball player Sam Arbaugh were recipients of the SEC Sportsmanship Award. In 2009, the University of Alabama women’s tennis team and University of Arkansas track & field athlete Dorian Ulrey were recipients of the SEC Sportsmanship Award and in 2008, Florida golfer Jessica Yadloczky and Tennessee basketball player Chris Lofton were recipients of the honor.