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OPSU named an NAIA Gold Award Five-Star Institution

Panhandle State Communications on 09/17/2020

For the second-consecutive year, Oklahoma Panhandle State University has earned recognition as a Five-Star Institution from the NAIA for its intercollegiate athletics program – earning a Gold Award - it has been announced. Last year, Aggie Athletics earned a Bronze Award on the Five-Star Institution on the Champions of Character scorecard used to judge each NAIA school.

“We are so very proud to have earned recognition as a Five-Star Gold Award Institution from the NAIA,” OPSU University President Dr. Tim Faltyn said. “This award let’s everyone know that we are a university that strives to do things the right way: in the classroom, in the community and on the fields of competition. We want to prepare our students for life and the core values of the NAIA provide a tremendous foundation to make that possible.”

The honor is based on the NAIA’s five core values: integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership. The actual point total is 67-percent on training and development on campus and through community outreach. In 2019-20 alone, OPSU athletic programs racked up better than 2,300 hours of campus and community service activities. Some of the activities where Aggies served included: reading and recess time at local elementary schools, Clean-up Guymon, Pioneer Days, Special Games Day for special needs children and their families, volunteering for seniors at Dunaway Manor Heritage Community, Paul Farrell Art Auction, Belly Open Golf Tournament, as well as various other business and community events.

Other areas of consideration for the Five-Star Institution are academic focus, character recognition, character promotion and conduct in competition. Baseball player Nico Rodriguez was the SAC’s nominee to the NAIA for the Dr. Leroy Walker Student-Athlete of Character award. Likewise, eight OPSU teams – softball, baseball, men’s golf, women’s cross country, women’s basketball, women’s golf, men’s soccer and volleyball – were all SAC and NAIA Scholar-Team honorees. Individually, OPSU student-athletes claimed 136 academic-based honors, as well.

The Aggie Baseball team was awarded the Team of Character Award from the Sooner Athletic Conference. Panhandle State’s women’s soccer program – in its inaugural season – received the Team Ethics and Sportsmanship Award from the United Soccer Coaches in 2019-20.

“I congratulate each and every member of our staff,” Interim Director of Athletics Victor Esparza added. “To earn an award like this takes a true team effort. We will push hard to improve even more and work to make being a Five-Star Institution an annual goal for Aggie Athletics.”

The Sooner Athletic Conference, of which OPSU is a member, was also recognized as a Five-Star Conference.