The UGA football program will be presented with the 2015-16 NCAA Sportsmanship Award during halftime of the Georgia-LSU men’s college basketball game at Stegeman Coliseum tonight.
Last September, the NCAA announced that the Bulldogs were one of four 2016 winners of the NCAA Student-Athlete Sportsmanship Award winners. Georgia was awarded the honor because of its first-response care and subsequent support for injured Southern University football player Devon Gales and his family. On Sept. 26, 2015, during the third quarter of Georgia’s game in Athens against Southern, Gales suffered a career-ending spinal injury while blocking on a kickoff return.
UGA’s generosity toward Gales and his family began from the first moments of this tragic event. It still flourishes today, as Gales continues his long road of rehabilitation at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, where his progress has been slow but tangible.
The Gales family will be on hand Saturday for the halftime presentation of the award, as well as for a special announcement that will follow.
The awards recognize the athletes and administrators who exemplify sportsmanship, one of the core principles of the NCAA. Award winners were selected from nominations submitted to the NCAA Committee on Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct, which is comprised of 11 representatives from NCAA member institutions.
The 2016 award marks the second such honor for UGA in the past three years. In 2013, women’s tennis player Maho Kowase won the award after she helped to overrule an incorrect scoring call that favored her. The match took place during the team competition of the 2012 NCAA Division I Tennis Championship.