SLIAC Establishes Distinguished Service Award; Honors Fontbonne's Lee McKinney

SLIAC Establishes Distinguished Service Award; Honors Fontbonne's Lee McKinney

ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) announced today the creation of a Distinguished Service Award that will be presented annually to the individual that has served or competed in the SLIAC and best exemplifies the qualities of leadership, dedication, service and perseverance. It was also announced that longtime Fontbonne University director of athletics, Lee McKinney, is the first recipient of the award.

“We have so many individuals associated with the SLIAC that make significant contributions, not only to our members, the Conference or collegiate athletics but, to their local communities, charities and organizations.  It is appropriate that we provide an avenue to recognize their contributions,” SLIAC Commissioner William J. Wolper said.  “Once the award was created, and given the standard by which the recipients will be selected, there is no more deserving person to receive the initial award than Lee McKinney.  Attempting to put into words his impact on and contributions to Fontbonne University as a whole, its intercollegiate athletics programs specifically, the SLIAC and numerous local and national charities to raise awareness and money for cancer research, would not do justice.”

Dr. Lee McKinney, who announced his retirement this past October following the 2009-10 school year, is the first recipient of the SLIAC's Distinguished Service Award. McKinney has served as director of athletics at Fontbonne for 23 years, seeing the athletics program at the institution grow from three teams and 19 student-athletes when he arrived in 1988 to 19 teams and more than 350 student-athletes at the time of his retirement. He was instrumental in the formation of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference as he joined representatives from Blackburn College, Maryville University, Parks College, Principia College and Webster University in chartering the Conference in September 1989.

During his years of service to the Conference, McKinney chaired the SLIAC Administrative Council and represented the Conference nationally, serving on the NCAA Management Council, Financial Aid Committee and Nominating Committee.

McKinney is also a two-time cancer survivor. He has dedicated countless hours of service to local community organizations and to raising money for various charities, mainly the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Coaches vs. Cancer.

Administrators, coaches, student-athletes and officials that served the Conference or participated in a sport in which the Conference awards a Championship are eligible for nomination.  Nominees will be evaluated and selected based on their contributions, accomplishments, service and leadership to and within the Conference, their institution, the community and Division III athletics; their perseverance through adversity to excel in their sport or chosen field; their overall dedication to excellence in and out of the competitive forum; and their support of the purpose of the SLIAC and Division III.  The recipient will be selected by the Conference Awards Committee and announced in conjunction with the Conference’s May Administrative Council meeting.

Each Conference school may nominate one individual per year, and nominations need not come from the institution attended or served by the nominee. Individuals may be nominated on multiple occasions but shall not be eligible to receive the award more than one time in a three-year period. 

It was also announced today that McKinney’s name will be attached to the Distinguished Service Award as it will be presented in the future as the “Lee McKinney Distinguished Service Award.”

“Upon learning that Lee would be retiring as Fontbonne’s AD following this academic year, members of our Administrative Council and I began discussing an appropriate way to recognize what he has meant to the SLIAC, and the opportunities afforded thousands of student-athletes since he and a small group of others had the foresight to create the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference,”  Wolper said.  “Adding his name to our Distinguished Service Award will ensure his contributions are remembered well into the future.”