COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — For colleges whose athletes and coaches take home Olympic medals, the winning won’t stop when the games are over.
The U.S. Olympic Committee has combined with leaders of Olympic sports and college athletic directors to create an award that will recognize the universities that produce medal winners.
The new U.S. Olympic Achievement Award will be handed out to schools every two years, in an effort to emphasize the importance of American schools in the country’s Olympic pipeline.
There were 43 schools that put medal-winning coaches or athletes in the pipeline over the last Olympic cycle.
Among those who contributed were Duke University head coach Mike Krzyzewski (basketball), Oklahoma University’s Jonathan Horton (gymnastics) and Kelli Stack and Molly Schaus of Boston College (hockey).
“This award is an important step to expand the recognition and appreciation from the U.S. Olympic movement back to the colleges and universities that help our country win medals,” Rich Bender, chairman of the National Governing Bodies Council, said Wednesday.
The presence of some college sports, such as men’s gymnastics, have diminished over the years, mainly because of funding and sports program cuts. For instance, there are only 17 men’s college gymnastics programs left for a sport that once had dozens.
Steve Penny, the president of USA Gymnastics, who helped create the new award, said he hopes the project will be one of several steps that can help schools improve fundraising.
“As athletic departments become more financially challenged in supporting all of the sports, there’s new money out there that can be raised, I believe, by focusing on alumni that have participated in Olympic sports at the college level,” Penny said.