12/06/11 — MOC Basketball Church Night

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MOC Basketball Church Night

By MOC Sports Information
Published in Sports on December 6, 2011 1:48 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Mount Olive College is among 10 schools nationally recognized as a 2010-11 NCAA Division II Game Environment Award of Excellence winner.

The school received a $500 award and is eligible for national honors.

The Trojans were recognized for their 28th annual Basketball Church Night held last February. Church groups from throughout eastern North Carolina were invited to attend the women's and men's basketball doubleheader for a special $1 admission charge. Nearly 1,300 fans attended the Conference Carolinas twinbill against in-state rival Lees-McRae.

According to the NCAA's news release, the Game Environment Award of Excellence "recognizes athletics programs that have displayed a special commitment to creating competition environments that stress civility, cater to the comfort of fans and participants, and are exciting."

Also receiving the Game Environment Award of Excellence were Chowan, Concordia-St. Paul (Minn.), Drury (Mo.), Grand Canyon (Ariz.), Holy Family (Pa.), New Haven (Conn.), Saint Leo (Fla.), USC Aiken and Texas A&M-Kingsville. The national winner will be announced in January during the NCAA Convention in Indianapolis, Ind.

"Church Night has been a great annual tradition at Mount Olive College, and we are pleased that the NCAA has chosen to honor the college for this event," said Jeff Eisen, MOC athletics director. "This honor is a tribute to the work of a lot of people, particularly the Admissions Office, but also Institutional Advancement, Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Student Affairs and athletics. And of course, the event would not be such a success without the support of churches throughout eastern North Carolina."

Individuals participated in contests during timeouts and at halftime, and a contest was also held to determine which church had the most spirit. The event also served as a fund-raiser for the Make-a-Wish foundation -- the designated charity of the NCAA Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

Also among the prizes and awards given out is a Mount Olive College scholarship to a member of the church with the largest attendance at the game. The winning church directs the scholarship to a member who intends to enroll at Mount Olive.

"Church Night at Mount Olive College is a wonderful time when the College can provide an event that not only involves the Free Will Baptist Church, which is the sponsoring body of the College, but also many churches from the community," said Jean Ackiss, MOC director of church support. "We are very proud of our athletic teams and our churches are very supportive of them. We are also very pleased to receive this recognition for the bonding that occurs between the College and its sponsoring body during Church Night."

The MOC admissions department administers the Church Night. Tim Woodard, the college's director of admissions, said players are affiliated with churches other than the Free Will Baptist and asked to have those churches included. The annual event has expanded from 10 churches to 60 through the years.

"Church Night started as a way to give back to the churches that help us so much," said Woodard. "This event brings the churches and athletics together. Church members, especially the kids, get to see the players up close. The Trojan men's and women's basketball players sign autographs and mingle with the kids before and after games."

The 29th annual MOC Basketball Church Night is Feb. 18, 2012, against Erskine (S.C.) College.