Wingate wins Echols SAC Excellence Award for fifth straight year

Rock Hill, S.C.---- For the fifth consecutive year, the Wingate University Bulldogs are winners of the prestigious SAC Echols Athletic Excellence Award, winning in record fashion for the 2010-2011 year. Wingate piled up a record 117.5 points, while winning by a record 29 points. The previous record for margin of victory was 12.5 points. The 117.5 points accounts for 83.9 percent of the maximum 140 points available. The previous top performance came in 1998, when former member Presbyterian College claimed 78.8 percent of the maximum points.

The South Atlantic Conference Echols Athletic Excellence Award is presented annually to the member athletic department that earns the highest overall finish based on final regular season standings. Points are based on final tournament standings in the sports of men’s cross country, women’s cross country, men’s golf and women’s golf. The trophy is presented at the SAC Annual Business Meeting at the conclusion of each year. The trophy is named in honor of former SAC Commissioner Doug Echols.

“This is a great reward for the hard work and dedication of our athletes, coaches, trainers, athletic administrators and fans,” Wingate University president Dr. Jerry McGee says. “The SAC is a premier league and we are deeply honored by this recognition.”

Wingate collected the most points in each of the three seasons. The Bulldogs won regular season titles in football, volleyball, men’s soccer, men’s tennis and women’s tennis. Wingate finished second in men’s and women’s basketball, along with baseball. The women’s soccer team added a third-place finish. The Bulldogs finished in the top four in 13 of 14 SAC sports.

“Certainly, we are thrilled to win the Echols Award for the fifth straight year,” Wingate University Vice President and Director of Athletics Steve Poston says. “In my opinion, this has been our best year yet, as far as the overall performances of our teams. Our coaches and student-athletes do a great job…this award belongs to them.”

Wingate added three SAC tournament titles, while making the championship game in seven of the nine sports with championship contests. The Bulldogs added six NCAA Tournament appearances in SAC sports. The volleyball team became the first SAC school to reach the Elite eight and finish in the AVCA top 25. Football made its first-ever play-off appearance, while men’s soccer went for the second straight year. The women’s basketball team went for the fifth time in seven years. The women’s tennis team makes its first appearance since 2003, while the baseball team goes to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2001.

The three league titles in the fall helped Wingate take a lead of 9.5 points over Carson-Newman. A pair of second place finishes in basketball stretched the lead to 17.5 after the winter. Both tennis teams went undefeated in the spring, as Wingate once again collected the most points, getting six more than Lincoln Memorial in the spring as the lead grew to 29.

“We want the athletic program at Wingate University to reflect the excellence seen throughout our campus.” Poston says. “The Echols Award helps us acknowledge this connection. It is our hope the entire campus community would share in this achievement…because the Echols Award reflects the overall campus commitment to excellence.”

Founded in 1896, Wingate University is a private comprehensive university with more than 2,300 students on two campuses in Wingate and Matthews, North Carolina. The university offers 32 undergraduate majors, 36 minors and career concentrations, numerous pre-professional programs, graduate degrees in business, accounting, physician assistant studies and sports administration and doctorates in pharmacy and education.

Wingate students gain the tools and support they need to excel in academics and apply that learning toward an extraordinary career and life. The campus community offers in-class learning, out-of-class experiences, strong mentors, a competitive yet caring environment and rewarding community service opportunities for a complete educational experience.

Bulldog student-athletes compete in 19 NCAA Division II sports. Wingate University has won the South Atlantic Conference Echols Athletic Excellence Award for the past five years.

Wingate University is ranked number three among NCAA Division II Academic All-America® producing schools in the 2000’s with 38 honorees during this millennium. Only Pittsburg State (Kan.) University and Truman State (Mo.) University have produced more Academic All-America® honorees during this time period. Wingate’s 47 Academic All-America® honorees (lifetime) is tops among all SAC schools.