Truett McConnell University was named a Champions of Character Five-Star Institution by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for the 2017-2018 academic year on Thursday. TMU was one of 74 institutions awarded the gold star distinction while 97 other institutions were named to the silver and bronze levels.

“Being named a Five-Star Gold Institution is a direct reflection of the student-athletes and coaches we have at TMU,” Head Athletic Director Jenni Shepard said. “These individuals work tirelessly to grow as individuals, to impact the lives of those around them, and to exhibit their faith and character through competition. Character is something we place extreme importance upon whether it is through our discipline in the classroom, our servant hood in the community, how we interact with our opponents, or how we handle victory or defeat.”

The distinctions are awarded based upon an institution’s commitment in character training, conduct in competition, academic focus, character recognition and character promotion. Points are earned based on exceptional student-athlete grade point averages and by having minimal to no ejections during competition throughout the course of the academic year.

The Bears served in various capacities such as hosting Tim Tebow’s Night To Shine and multiple teams mentored in local schools throughout the year. TMU student-athletes compiled a total of 3500 community service hours.

All students, coaches and parents play a vital role in the Champions of Character program. The five core values of the program include integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership. Students learn to understand how values play out in both practice and competition, coaches are motivated to teach how to intentionally define, model and shape values through their coaching and mentoring, and parents learn how their behavior is key to supporting their athletes.

“How happy I am for this well-deserved honor for our student athletes,” Dr. Emir Caner said. “From the thousands of hours of community service to a cumulative 3.0 GPA, it is proper that our student athletes should be honored in such a way. I am thankful for each one of them and, as importantly, for all of them as a whole. So many of them represent what is best about a new generation of servant leaders who will share Jesus Christ.”

TMU was among six institutions within the Appalachian Athletic Conference to be recognized. Bryan, Columbia, Milligan, Montreat and Union were all awarded with the gold distinction.

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