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Gannon Named Finalist For 2021 NCAA Division II Award Of Excellence

Published: 01/05/2021

Gannon was named a finalist for the NCAA Division II Award Of Excellence for the second time in the past three years.

Gannon was named a finalist for the NCAA Division II Award Of Excellence for the second time in the past three years.

ERIE, Pa. — The Gannon University athletic department has been named a finalist for the 2021 Division II Award of Excellence, the NCAA announced Tuesday.

Gannon earned the distinction for its SERVE Game, an effort of the Gannon women’s basketball program in conjunction with Erie Catholic Schools to raise awareness and funds to help address the issue of youth poverty in Erie.

Gannon women’s basketball along with the six parochial grade schools in the Erie Catholic School System — Blessed Sacrament, Our Lady of Peace, St. George, St. James, St. Jude, and St. Luke — joined forces with the Inner- City Neighborhood Art House and the Sister Gus’ Kids Café to address the problem of poverty among the youth of the community. The schools collected donations to raise awareness and help those affected.

The Gannon women’s basketball team held a pep rally at each school to introduce the plan, and the school with the most participation was able to spend a day with the team at their school.

In addition to the donation challenge, all the students and their families were invited to attend the SERVE Game Jan. 11, helping to set a season high in home attendance with 1,422 fans at the Hammermill Center.

The SERVE Game also helped raise nearly $5,000 to donate directly to the two beneficiaries of the game, with most of that total coming through sponsorships of participants in a Celebrity All-Star game played at halftime. Participants in the game included Erie natives Kayla McBride of the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces and Curt Miller, head coach of the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun, as well as Erie mayor Joe Schember and Gannon President Dr. Keith Taylor, and a number of other high-profile members of Erie’s business, media and education communities.

This marks the second finalist honor for Gannon in the past three years. The Knights are one of 28 schools and one conference to be named finalists. Previous finalists from the PSAC are Gannon (2019), Kutztown (2014), Shippensburg (2015 and 2016), East Stroudsburg (2017), Mercyhurst (2020) and the PSAC (2018).

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 2021 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 virtual 2021 NCAA Convention on Jan. 15.

The winner will receive $1,500, while the first runner-up receives $1,250, and the second runner-up $1,000.