ERIE, Pa. — The Gannon University athletic department has been named a finalist for the 2019 Division II Award of Excellence, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announced Thursday afternoon.
Gannon earned the distinction for its Friday Night Lights programing over the summer of 2018, a partnership with Our West Bayfront and the Gannon Wellness Department that saw the university athletics teams host area youth to engage them in physical activity, expose them to new sports and connect them with positive role models.
In its second year in 2018, Friday Night Lights expanded to six weeks over the summer, with children joining Gannon student-athletes each Friday from 7-9 p.m. The teams and staff would form a “walking bus” from an area park to either the university’s Recreation and Wellness Center or McConnell Family Stadium, where the evening’s events would take place, and the night would end with a shared meal between the children, student-athletes and Gannon staff.
This marks the first finalist honor for Gannon in the six-year history of the award. The Knights are one of 20 schools and one conference to be named finalists.
As part of the Division II community engagement philosophy, the division annually honors institutions in each conference with the Award of Excellence for community engagement efforts.
The Award of Excellence is presented for an activity or event that exemplifies excellence in any of the areas covered by the six attributes of Division II – learning, service, balance, passion, sportsmanship and resourcefulness.
The winner of the 2019 Division II Award of Excellence will be selected by the national Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, and will be named during the Division II business session at the 2019 NCAA Convention on January 26 in Orlando.
The winner will receive $1,500 and featured football game or basketball doubleheader as part of the NCAA’s 2019-20 media agreement. The first runner-up receives $1,250, and the second runner-up $1,000.