NAIA National Awards Day


21 Honored at NAIA National Awards Day

— The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) announced 21 honorees with the association’s highest individual honors as part of its annual NAIA National Awards Day on September 15, 2017. Achievements of NAIA student-athletes, administrators and coaches were recognized, as well as the introduction of eight outstanding athletes and coaches who will be inducted into the 2017-18 NAIA Hall of Fame Class. 

2017-18 NAIA National Award Winners:

A. O. Duer Scholarship Award: Jordan Ewald, University of Michigan-Dearborn; Jacob Green, Morningside College
Named in honor of the NAIA’s former executive secretary for his service of 26 years to the association, this scholarship recognizes academics, character and citizenship by junior student-athletes in any sport. Presented by Daktronics, the A.O. Duer Scholarship has been awarded to one male and one female junior athlete since 1967. Each student receives a $1,000 scholarship.

Jordan EwaldJordan, a softball student-athlete at Michigan-Dearborn, has maintained a 3.97 GPA while majoring in Journalism and Screen Studies/Communications. A native of Wixom, Mich., the Wolverines’ team captain helped lead UM-Dearborn to its first-ever Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference regular-season championship in 2017. Jordan is heavily involved in campus activities and the local community, including writing for the school newspaper, coaching youth softball, swimming lessons and participating in both the Emerging Leaders Institute and the Emerging Leaders Council. In July of 2016, Jordan was also selected to represent the United States at the Federation for International University Sports (FISU) biennial education forum in Montpellier, France.

Jacob GreenJacob, a product of Sioux City, Iowa, is a track and field student-athlete at Morningside College (Iowa). He has been named to the Dean’s List every semester, earning a 3.88 GPA while double-majoring in Biology and Chemistry. On the track, Jacob is a four-time NAIA All-American and a 12-time All-Conference selection in the Great Plains Athletic Conference. He is also heavily involved in campus activities, including Student Government, while serving as the Treasurer of the Biology Honor Society Beta Beta Beta and Vice President of the Leadership Honor Society Omicron Delta Kappa. Additionally, Jacob spends many hours volunteering with special needs individuals, while also mentoring other student-athletes with a similar major of study.

Emil S. Liston Award: Tristin Wicks, MidAmerica Nazarene University; Kyle Steigenga, Cornerstone University
Presented by Daktronics, the Emil S. Liston award recognizes both academic and athletic excellence by junior student-athletes in men’s and women’s basketball. The scholarship is named in honor of the NAIA’s first executive secretary who was also a prime mover behind the men’s basketball tournament. This award has been presented annually since 1950 to one junior men’s and one junior women’s basketball student-athlete. Each student is awarded a $1,000 scholarship.

Tristin WicksA native of Marysville, Kan., Tristin achieves high success on and off the court, maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA as a Business Administration major, while also helping lay the foundation for MidAmerica Nazarene’s (Kan.) first-ever Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship in 2016. Tristin is active in the campus community, serving as one of the leaders of the Pioneers’ Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter as well as being an important member of the Delta Mu Delta honor program for Business majors. Last May, Tristin was selected as one of four junior academic marshals for graduation, the highest academic honor bestowed upon junior students at MNU.

Kyle SteigengaKyle, who hails from Holland, Mich., epitomizes the true definition of a student-athlete. A two-time Academic All-American, Kyle has maintained a 3.96 GPA as a Physical Education Teacher Education major at Cornerstone University (Mich.). The captain of the Golden Eagles men’s basketball team, Kyle has already scored over 2,000 points in three seasons and is on pace to become Michigan’s all-time career scoring leader. A three-time first team All-American, Kyle was named the NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball Tournament MVP after leading Cornerstone to the National Championship in 2015. Selected as the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference Player of the Year in 2017, the Golden Eagles also finished as the National Tournament runner-up in 2017. Off the hardwood, Kyle serves as one of the favorite instructors at CU men’s basketball summer camps and also was a part of the team’s mission trip to the Philippines. Additionally, Kyle was an integral part in launching the Grand Rapids Dream Center – Hoop Dreams Basketball Camp, a three-day free event for underprivileged kids in the inner city.

Dr. LeRoy Walker Champions of Character Award: Maya Ah You-Dias, Eastern Oregon University
Named in honor of former NAIA President and President Emeritus of the United States Olympic Committee, Dr. LeRoy Walker, this award recognizes a junior or senior student-athlete who utilizes all five core values of the NAIA Champions of Character program and demonstrates outstanding academic achievement, campus and community leadership, athletic achievement and has a strong future ambition. This award is presented by Herff Jones. 

Maya Ah You-DiasSince arriving on campus, Maya has been a natural leader at Eastern Oregon University on the court, in the classroom and through active civic engagement. A Psychology major with double-minors in Business and Physical Education, Maya has maintained a 3.62 GPA while being named to the Dean’s List every semester. A two-time Cascade Collegiate Conference all-conference selection, Maya was named a second team All-American in 2017, leading the Mountaineers to the quarterfinals in the Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship. Maya has made perhaps her most significant impact on campus and throughout the community, serving as a leader on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee on both the conference and institutional level, as well as taking the lead role in countless volunteer and mentor projects. She was instrumental in organizing and planning both the Kickin’ It Into Gear and Mountie Recess Project events at EOU, which reach hundreds of local youth in the community, promoting physical fitness and healthy lifestyles. 

Kim Haddow, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
The Coach of Character Award is annually given to an NAIA head coach who has been with the institution for a minimum of five years and who has embraced the five cores values of the NAIA Champions of Character program, as demonstrated through sport and how they instill a culture of community leadership through volunteering or service within their program. The NAIA Coach of Character Award is presented by Herff Jones.

Kim HaddowKim Haddow, the head coach for both the Men’s and Women’s Golf programs at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Ariz.), has been selected as this year’s Coach of Character. In 2010, Kim was hired at Embry-Riddle as the first-ever head coach to build the men’s and women’s programs from the ground up. In just seven years, together with her husband and associate head coach, Mike Haddow, Kim has developed Embry-Riddle into one of the premiere golf programs in the California Pacific Conference and the NAIA.

Since 2013, Coach Haddow’s teams have earned a combined nine Cal-Pac Conference Championships, including five titles for the women’s team and four championships on the men’s side. The Eagles consistently rank in the NAIA’s top-25 and have performed successfully at the NAIA Men’s and Women’s Golf National Championships. In 2017, Embry-Riddle finished as the runner-up at the Women’s Golf National Championship in West Palm Beach, Fla. Coach Haddow has earned numerous Cal-Pac Conference Coach of the Year Awards, but her coaching philosophy embedded with high character and standards of excellence are what set her apart from the rest. Kim and her husband create a culture of positivity and respect that allows the student-athletes to build personal relationships and develop a sense of ownership and accountability for their actions. By striving to live each day by the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” Kim establishes a bond of mutual respect amongst the student-athletes, coaches, administrators and the community. 

Athletics Director of the Year: Jim Abbott, Oklahoma City University  
Jim AbbotOklahoma City University’s Jim Abbott has been selected as the 2017 NAIA Athletics Director of the Year for his numerous accomplishments within his institution’s athletic department. This prestigious award has been given annually to an athletics director for their success and development within all facets of athletic administration over the course of the previous academic year.

After 15 years of outstanding service at the helm of the Oklahoma City University Athletics Department, Jim’s accomplishments during the 2016-17 academic year are some of his best yet. Under Jim’s guidance, Oklahoma City claimed the Learfield Sports Directors Cup for the first time in school history, qualifying 16 of 18 Stars’ teams to their respective National Championships, while also collecting NAIA red banners in four sports – Competitive Cheer, Division I Women’s Basketball, Women’s Golf and Softball. Oklahoma City claimed seven of 11 Sooner Athletic Conference Championships awarded in 2016-17, with an incredible 16 Stars teams registering a team GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Beyond the overwhelming competitive success seen last season, Jim continued to serve the NAIA in meaningful ways, serving on the NAIA-ADA Board of Directors, the NACDA Executive Committee and the NAIA Growth Advisory Panel. Oklahoma City University also successfully hosted the first-ever NAIA Competitive Cheer and Competitive Dance National Championships and Opening Rounds in both Baseball and Softball in 2016-17.

The focus of Jim’s tenure has always been on providing a championship experience for all student-athletes athletically, academically and socially, while establishing a culture of excellence throughout the department. Last year, Jim championed the fundraising efforts for the opening of two new athletic facilities on campus, including a new soccer facility and wrestling practice facilities.

Charles Morris Administrator of the Year: Mark Pope, The Sun Conference   
Mark PopeThe 2017 Charles Morris Administrator of the Year award winner is Mark Pope from The Sun Conference. This honor, which was created in memory of the former NAIA Associate Executive Director Charles Morris, recognizes an NAIA member who has made significant contributions as an administrator of intercollegiate athletics, while also exemplifying the loyalty and enthusiasm which Mr. Morris had for the association.

Since 2011, Mark has served as the Commissioner of The Sun Conference, but his contributions to the NAIA extend far beyond his daily conference responsibilities. Mark has served on numerous committees throughout his tenure, providing his knowledge, perspective, leadership and humility in working towards raising the level of performance in his member institutions and the NAIA. He currently serves as the Chair of the Conference Commissioners Association and on the Executive Committee of the National Administrative Council, which highlight his level of commitment to the NAIA and its continued success. Mark’s dedication to his profession and passion for life is evident in his daily routine, as he has the innate ability to make everyone around him better.

Wally Schwartz Faculty Athletics Representative of the Year: Dave Bass, Valley City State University
Dave BassDave Bass of Valley City State University (N.D.) is the 2017 Wally Schwartz Faculty Athletics Representative of the Year. This high honor, put into place in honor of past Vice President of Legislative Services and NAIA Hall of Famer Wally Schwartz, looks to recognize a Faculty Athletics Representative who exemplifies the loyalty, enthusiasm and honesty in which Mr. Schwartz showed on behalf of the NAIA.

Dave recently completed his 21st year of service as the Faculty Athletics Representative at Valley City State University and is actively involved in all aspects of the Athletic Department at VCSU. Dave is also currently the eligibility chair for the North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) and the FAR liaison to the Conference Board of Directors. At the national level, Dave has served on the Council of Faculty Athletics Representatives and as a member of the Learning Disabilities Advisory Committee.

Dave is an invaluable resource for Valley City State student-athletes and coaches, as well as others around the North Star Athletic Association, working tirelessly behind the scenes to advance VCSU and the NSAA. He makes himself available at any hour to his student-athletes and coaches and works diligently on campus to build relationships with the faculty members to provide a high level of success for everyone around him. Dave goes above and beyond the typical duties of a Faculty Athletics Representative with his dedication to Valley City State, the North Star Athletic Association and his heartfelt concern for student-athletes and coaches. 

Sports Information Director of the Year: Donnie Smith, Southeastern University
Donnie SmithThe 2017 Sports Information Director of the Year award winner is Donnie Smith from Southeastern University (Fla.). This honor is presented to one SID based on the accomplishments during the previous year in the areas of athletics communication, sports information, promotion and service to the NAIA.

Since arriving on campus in 2013-14, Donnie has been instrumental in developing the media relations efforts at Southeastern, providing exceptional coverage for all 15 of Southeastern’s sports. In his short time at Southeastern, Donnie has already added live streaming for every home contest, a weekly studio show and one-on-one interviews with student-athletes and coaches, as well as landing SEU in the NAIA’s Top-10 for social media growth for three of the past four years.
Donnie also serves as the Associate SID for The Sun Conference, providing coverage for the league’s Volleyball, Men’s and Women’s Tennis and Baseball programs. He helped to host three Sun Conference Championships in 2016-17, acted as the Media Coordinator for the 2016 NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship and as the Official Scorer at the 2017 NAIA Softball World Series. Additionally, Donnie is the Chair of the NAIA-SIDA Branding Committee.

In addition to his contributions to Southeastern University, The Sun Conference and the NAIA, Donnie serves as an excellent resource to his colleagues and is always working to move the Sports Information industry forward.

Clarence "Ike" Pearson SID Award: Aaron Sagraves, Cornerstone University
Aaron SagravesGiven annually to a member of the NAIA Sports Information Directors Association (NAIA-SIDA), the Clarence “Ike” Pearson Award honors outstanding contributions to the profession. The award is named in honor of the former statistical crew chief of the NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship in Kansas City, Mo.

The 2017 recipient of the Clarence “Ike” Pearson Award is Aaron Sagraves from Cornerstone University (Mich.). A 2004 graduate of Cornerstone, Aaron returned to his alma mater in 2014 and has helped to expand the Golden Eagles’ Sports Information efforts in unprecedented ways, including helping to develop the Cornerstone Sports Network. Over the past several years, Aaron has garnered multiple Top-10 finishes in NAIA-SIDA Publication contests, including the top award for a splash page that featured the rivalry between Cornerstone and Davenport in 2014-15. Aaron’s outstanding work also made him a CoSIDA Rising Star selection in 2016.

An active member of NAIA-SIDA, Aaron served two years as an At-Large Representative on the Board of Directors, before being voted into the Vice President seat from 2014-17. He began his three-year tenure as the NAIA-SIDA President in the summer of 2017. In addition to his leadership role in NAIA-SIDA, Aaron also just completed a three-year team as a College Division representative on the CoSIDA Board of Directors.

Aaron is an extraordinary role model for the next generation of Sports Information professionals and his leadership is evident in his investment in the mission of the NAIA, CoSIDA and Cornerstone University.

Athletic Trainer of the Year: Nichole Borst, Montana State University – Northern
Nichole BorstThe NAIA Athletic Trainer of the Year recognizes an NATA certified athletic trainer at an NAIA institution who has distinguished themselves as a model of the profession in personal conduct and professional allied health service to the NAIA student-athletes.

Nichole Borst of Montana State University-Northern has been named the 2017 NAIA Athletic Trainer of the Year. Nichole serves as the department’s head athletic trainer and has been helping MSU-Northern student-athletes stay healthy for more than a decade. She is an active member of both the NAIA-Athletic Trainers Association and the National Athletic Trainers Association, and was also appointed to the Montana Board of Athletic Trainers by the Governor of Montana.

In addition to her dedication to aiding the student-athletes at Montana State University-Northern, Nichole also serves as the Student-Success Advisor on campus and is an adjunct professor in the Health Promotions and Secondary Health and Physical Education Departments.

Nichole stays involved with many local organizations, including the Special Olympics and the Boys and Girls Club, and also provides special training to community EMS workers and Emergency Room staffers on current techniques and protocols that provide the best care for student-athletes. Nichole also provides continuing education to the local and regional high school and collegiate coaches staffs, so that they can retain their teaching and coaching certificates.

Larry Lady Officiating Award: Lois Holmes, Women's Basketball Coordinator of Officials
Lois HolmesThe Larry Lady Officiating Award, named in honor of the former NAIA Coordinator of Officials for basketball, football and baseball, recognizes officials of outstanding quality, high moral character, fine officiating ability and who are held in high esteem by their colleagues, administrators and athletes.

The 2017 Larry Lady Officiating Award is presented to Lois Holmes, the NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Coordinator of Officials. Lois has been providing her service and expertise to collegiate women’s basketball officiating for over 30 years. She has served as the Supervisor of Officials for both the Mid-South Conference and the River States Conference since 2006, helping recruit, train, assign and evaluate officials for the betterment of the sport.

Her contributions as an official and now as a coordinator have been instrumental in the growth of women’s basketball officiating across the country. Lois’ hard work and dedication at all levels of women’s basketball, and especially the NAIA, are second-to-none.

2017-18 NAIA Hall of Fame Inductees

The Hall of Fame Award is the highest honor presented by the association. Nominees must have outstanding character and leadership ability, and be held in high esteem by their colleagues, former coaches and athletes. The Hall of Fame consists of an athlete and coach category for each sport and a category for general meritorious service.

Dale Neal, Freed-Hardeman University, Women’s Basketball – Coach
Dale NealDale Neal begins his 24th season at the helm of the Freed-Hardeman University (Tenn.) women’s basketball program, having compiled a record of 639-172 and a winning percentage of .787 as the head coach of the Lady Lions.

Few programs in the NAIA have seen the levels of success and consistency that Neal has brought to Freed-Hardeman in his tenure. Over that time frame, the Lady Lions are one of only two programs to have won at least 20 games and competed in the NAIA National Championship every year.

Under Neal’s direction, Freed-Hardeman has been a fixture in both the NAIA Top-25 poll and the NAIA National Tournament. The Lady Lions have made five total appearances in the Fab Four (1999, 2008, 2011, 2013, 2014) and one appearance in the National Championship game (2014). They have also advanced to the National Quarterfinals three times (2004, 2005, 2006), won seven conference tournament titles and six regular-season conference championships.

Neal has been named the Conference Coach of the Year eight times, including earning WBCA/NAIA National Coach of the Year honors for 2016-17. The Lady Lions have boasted 10 Conference Players of the Year and three WBCA/NAIA National Players of the Year. Freed-Hardeman has a total of 26 All-American selections since 1999, including 13 first-team honorees. 

T.J. Nelson, University of Montana Western, Wrestling – Coach
TJ NelsonT.J. Nelson served as the head coach of the University of Montana Western wrestling program from 1987 to 1996, during a time in which the Bulldogs achieved unprecedented levels of success. In just 10 seasons, Nelson led Montana Western to two NAIA District 12 Championships (1989, 1994) and eight top-10 finishes at the NAIA National Championship, including five top-five finishes (1989 – 4th, 1990 – 3rd, 1991 – 3rd, 1992 – 3rd) and one National Championship (1994).

Nelson’s Montana Western program produced 36 NAIA All-Americans, eight individual national champions and three Academic All-Americans. He was named the NAIA District 12 and National Coach of the Year in 1994 and was also selected as the Rookie Coach of the Year by Wrestling News magazine in 1988.

While at Montana Western, Nelson played an integral role in bringing the NAIA National Championship to Butte, Montana for two seasons (1993, 1994). Nelson also served on the National Championship Committee from 1991-94 and spent five years as a part of the NAIA National Seeding Committee. Nelson was inducted into the Hall of Fame at both the University of Montana Western (2005) and Whitehall (Mont.) High School (2017).

Brandon Woudstra, Northwestern College, Men's Basketball – Athlete
Brandon WoudstraA hometown hero who stayed in Orange City, Iowa, to play for Northwestern College (Iowa), Brandon Woudstra ended his Red Raider playing career with an incredible 112-21 overall record, leading Northwestern to two NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championships (2001, 2003) and another NAIA National Championship semifinal appearance (2002).

Woudstra is the Red Raiders’ all-time leading scorer (2,478 points) and assists leader (348), while also ranking sixth all-time in career rebounds (896) at Northwestern. He was a three-time NAIA All-America selection (2001 – Honorable Mention; 2002 – Second Team; 2003 – First Team), a two-time NAIA National Championship Tournament Most Valuable Player (2001, 2003) and earned NAIA National Player of the Year honors in 2003. Woudstra was also a two-time NAIA Scholar Athlete and the recipient of the NAIA Emil S. Liston Award in 2002.

Following his standout career at Northwestern College, Woudstra played professionally in Europe for six years where he was a five-time All-Star and scoring leader. Woudstra was inducted into the Iowa High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 2017 and currently resides in Orange City where he is the Market President at American State Bank.

Jeff McLaughlin, Oklahoma City University, Baseball – Athlete
Jeff McLaughlinA product of Tulsa, Okla., Jeff McLaughlin was a key component on one of the most dominant four-year spans of any Oklahoma City University baseball team to date, helping the Stars to an amazing 252-40 overall record during his four years on campus. McLaughlin was a part of three NAIA World Series teams, including one NAIA National Championship red banner (2005) and two NAIA World Series runner-up finishes (2003, 2004).

McLaughlin pitched in 95 games in his Oklahoma City University career, notching a record of 29-6, while also collecting 35 saves. He is the Stars’ all-time leader in career saves (35) and strikeouts (270) and also holds the OCU single-season saves record (19). His 19 saves logged in 2004 is also an NAIA record.

He was an NAIA All-America selection in 2006, a two-time NAIA World Series All-Tournament Team selection (2003, 2005) and a two-time NAIA Scholar-Athlete honoree (2005, 2006). McLaughlin also was the inaugural recipient of the Jim Wade Award at OCU, the highest honor a student-athlete can receive while on campus, which is an accolade that recognizes leadership, community service, academic and athletic achievement.

Upon graduation from Oklahoma City University in 2006, McLaughlin played one season with the Fargo Red Hawks, an Independent professional team, winning the Northern League Championship title. After his baseball days were over, McLaughlin was employed as a probation and parole officer with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. In 2014 he was awarded Employee of the Year for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections Internal Affairs and was recently promoted in 2016 to as the PREA Coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.

Eric Brand, Bethel College, Men's Basketball – Athlete
Eric BrandA native of Bloomington, Ind., Eric Brand helped Bethel College (Ind.) to an unbelievable 135-22 overall record during his four years on campus, leading the Pilots to two NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championships (1997, 1998) and another NAIA National Championship runner-up finish (1999).

Brand is the Pilots’ all-time leading scorer (2,696 points) and also holds three other career records at Bethel, including field goals made (1,018), free throws made (659) and games played (157). He was a three-time NAIA All-America selection (1998 – Honorable Mention; 1999 – Second Team; 2000 – First Team), a two-time NAIA National Championship All-Tournament Team selection (1998, 1999) and a three-time first team All-Conference selection in the Crossroads League. 

Following his standout career at Bethel College, Brand played professionally in Europe and the United State for seven years, winning the International Basketball League Championship in 2006 while also being named the IBL Most Valuable Player (2006). Brand was inducted into the Bethel College Hall of Fame in 2003 and also had his Pilots’ No. 55 jersey retired. After his playing days were done, Brand’s love for the game has seen him in a number of coaching positions, including his alma mater, Bethel College, as well as New Mexico State University, Baylor University and Texas State University. Brand recently nabbed his first head coaching job as he took over the program at Riley High School in South Bend, Ind.

Gary Picone, Lewis-Clark State College – Meritorious Service
Gary PiconeA native of Trail, British Columbia, Gary Picone has been a mainstay on the campus of Lewis-Clark State College in a variety of roles throughout his storied career. Picone first came to Lewiston in 1972 as an outfielder on the Warriors’ baseball team, and after a three-year playing career he joined the baseball coaching staff as a student assistant. He also served as the Warriors’ pitching coach from 1983-1989 under NAIA Hall of Fame coach Ed Cheff.

In 1991, Picone began his first stint as the Lewis-Clark State College Director of Athletics and was instrumental in bringing the NAIA World Series back to Lewiston. The Series was held on the campus of LC State for an eight-year period from 1984-1991 before moving to several different cities through the 1999 season, but Picone engineered a plan for the World Series to return to Lewiston where Lewis-Clark State College hosted its 18th consecutive World Series in 2017. Based on his leadership, vision and dedication to integrating the Lewiston community into the event, Picone has cemented the Baseball World Series as one of the most successful NAIA National Championships year after year.

Picone entered his second term as Director of Athletics in 2006, where he created a culture of excitement on the LC State campus and Lewiston community while spearheading the fundraising efforts for numerous facility enhancements and improvements. He headed the growth of the Lewis-Clark State College athletics programs, expanding from six sports and 85 student-athletes to its current level of 12 sports and over 200 student-athletes. Under his guidance, Warriors teams regularly compete at a highly successful level in both the Frontier Conference and in NAIA National Championship competition.

In addition to his work at Lewis-Clark State College, Picone has devoted many years of service to the NAIA as a member of the National Administrative Council, as well as countless other tasks forces and committees. Picone is a true ambassador of the NAIA and has helped shape Lewis-Clark State College into the forefront of the Frontier Conference and the NAIA.

Dr. Thomas Ronald Melton, Southern States Athletic Conference – Meritorious Service
Thomas Ronald MeltonDr. Thomas Ronald Melton, better known as Ron to his friends and students, has been educating and inspiring student-athletes and administrators at Brewton-Parker College for 39 years. Dr. Melton began his career at Brewton-Parker in 1976 as a faculty member and has held numerous positions on campus, including Distinguished Professor of History, Vice President and Dean for Academic Affairs, and Provost.

Dr. Melton served as the Brewton-Parker Faculty Athletics Representative for 30 years from 1986-2017, earning the NAIA Wally Schwartz Award Faculty Athletics Representative of the Year Award in 2001-02. He continues to serve as the Southern States Athletic Conference Eligibility Chair, a position he has held for over 35 years, and has been the Chair of the SSAC Eligibility Committee since 2011. 

His service to the Association has shown no boundaries, as Ron has chaired three NAIA committees during his tenure, including the NAIA Council of Faculty Athletic Representatives, the NAIA National Coordinating Committee and the NAIA Committee on Competitive Experience, as well as serving in membership capacities on numerous other committees. Dr. Melton also continues to act as the Parliamentarian at the annual NAIA Convention.

Dr. Melton has enjoyed a lengthy and distinguished career as a professor and administrator at Brewton-Parker College and remains a consistent supporter of and advocate for the NAIA throughout his time in higher education.

Meg Schebler, Association of Independent Institutions – Meritorious Service
Meg ScheblerMeg Schebler, who hails from Davenport, Iowa, has played an integral role in the NAIA for nearly 20 years and has been successful in many different leadership positions throughout her tenure. Schebler began her career as the head women’s basketball coach and Director of Athletics at Ashford University in Clinton, Iowa, where she spent nearly 18 years before the institution closed its doors in 2015. Ashford’s Athletics Department grew tremendously and improved dramatically under Schebler’s leadership. She served on the Campus Leadership Team and her hard work helped establish positive relationships for Ashford with the Midwest Collegiate Conference, the Association of Independent Institutions and the NAIA.

For her diligence and progress at Ashford, Schebler was named the 2007 MCC Conference Athletic Director of the Year as well as the 2007 NAIA Region VII Athletic Director of the Year. In 2012, she was honored as the Women Leaders in College Sports Administrator of the Year and was the recipient of the 2012-13 NACDA Under Armour AD of the Year Award.

Schebler has been active at the NAIA conference, regional and national levels throughout her career, serving on multiple committees and in various leadership positions. She has served as an at-large member of the NAIA National Administrative Council, the NAIA Gender Equity Committee, Hall of Fame and Honors Committee and the Champions of Character Advisory Committee, as well as leadership positions within the Midwest Collegiate Conference and Association of Independent Institutions. She has been a past officer of the NAIA Athletic Directors’ Association, serving as President in 2006-07 and served for many years as the Chair of the NAIA DII Women's Basketball Tournament Committee. Schebler has been a guest lecturer and adjunct instructor in Sports Management courses, as well as a regular presenter at the NAIA and Women Leaders in College Sports National Conventions.

Schebler transitioned to her current role of Assistant Commissioner of the Association of Independent Institutions in January of 2017, where she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the league. Her long history of service and numerous contributions to the NAIA show her level of commitment to achieving the mission of the Association, its staff and member institutions.

The Hall of Fame inductees will be recognized throughout the year at their respective NAIA National Championships, national coaches’ association meetings or at the 77th NAIA National Convention. More detailed information about each inductee will be released prior to these ceremonies. View the complete list of NAIA Hall of Famers.