Val Ackerman, Leonard Hamilton, Speedy Morris and Rick Byrd are this year’s recipients of the Joe Lapchick Character Award.
Ackerman helped found the WNBA and served as its first president. She also had a successful career as commissioner of the Big East Conference since 2013, leading the conference’s renaissance following the basketball schools’ decision to split from the original conference.
Hamilton is the winningest coach in Florida State basketball history and fifth all-time in Atlantic Coast Conference history. He had 394 wins over his 20 years at the school and 594 overall over his 34-year career that included stops at Oklahoma State and Miami before joining the Seminoles in 2002.
Morris guided La Salle from 1986 to 2001 and had 238 wins and four NCAA Tournament appearances. In the 1989-90 season his team went 30-2 and finished 12th in the AP poll behind Lionel Simmons and Doug Overton. Morris was the first Division I coach to coach both the men’s and women’s basketball programs at the same school.
Byrd spent 33 years coaching at Belmont from 1986 to 2019. He won 713 games there and 805 overall. The Bruins went 27-6 in his final season and made the NCAA Tournament. Belmont made eight NCAA appearances during Byrd’s tenure.
This is the 14th year the award will be presented to those who have exhibited the traits of Lapchick, who coached at St. John’s and with the New York Knicks.
The quartet will be honored at a luncheon on September 16 in New York.
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