Westminster Director of Athletics Matt Mitchell has been selected as the 2019 recipient of the Lee McKinney Distinguished Service Award, given each year by the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in conjunction with the Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
The Lee McKinney SLIAC Distinguished Service Award is presented annually to the individual that has served or competed in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and best exemplifies the qualities of leadership, dedication, service and perseverance displayed by longtime Fontbonne University director of athletics, Lee McKinney.
“A big reason the Westminster job was so attractive to me two years ago was the opportunity to work with Coach Mitchell," said Associate Director of Athletics and Head Women's Basketball Coach James Arnold. "He is all that is right with college athletics and has been a valuable mentor and colleague to so many.”
Mitchell is in his 21st year at Westminster, having served in various roles that extend from Head Golf and Basketball Coach to Director of Athletics. While his teams have had numerous successes on the court during his tenure as the Head Men’s Basketball Coach, Mitchell’s true point of pride comes from his team’s commitment to sportsmanship and the integrity of the game every season. This shows in Mitchell’s teams receiving the SLIAC Men’s Basketball Team Sportsmanship Award five times all in consecutive years beginning in the 2013-14 season.
“I will forever be indebted that I have been lucky enough to coach under and be mentored by Mitch," said Associate Head Men's Basketball Coach Andrew Green. "I can’t think of anyone else in our industry that better exemplifies sportsmanship and integrity, as well as promoting the mission of the NCAA Division III student-athlete experience.”
Under Mitchell's leadership in 2015-16, the Westminster Athletics became the first SLIAC school to win both the All-Sports Trophy for competition on the court and field along with the Sportsmanship Award, which led to the creation of the Commissioner’s Cup.
Mitchell also spear-headed the campaign to unify conference efforts for the Coaches vs. Cancer intiative in the month of February.
Mitchell will be recognized at the 2019 SLIAC Awards Banquet held on May 14 at Tapawingo Golf Course in St. Louis, Mo.
More on Lee McKinney:
Dr. McKinney served as director of athletics at Fontbonne for 23 years, seeing the athletics program at the institution grow from three teams and 19 student-athletes when he arrived in 1988 to 19 teams and over 350 student-athletes at the time of his retirement. Dr. McKinney was instrumental in the formation of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference as he joined representatives from Blackburn College, Maryville University, Parks College, Principia College and Webster University in chartering the Conference in September 1989.
During his years of service to the Conference, Dr. McKinney chaired the SLIAC Administrative Council and represented the Conference nationally, serving on the NCAA Management Council, Financial Aid Committee and Nominating Committee.
Dr. McKinney, who was a two-time cancer survivor, passed away on April 4, 2011. He had dedicated countless hours of service to local community organizations and raising money for various charities, mainly the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Coaches vs. Cancer.