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LEWISBURG, Pa. – Bucknell is the recipient of a 2005 ESPY in the "Best Upset" category for beating Kansas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The award, announced July 13 by ESPN, brought Bison Coach Pat Flannery to Los Angeles for taping of the star-studded awards program that aired on ESPN Sunday, July 17.
President Brian C. and Maryjane Mitchell and men's basketball co-captains Charles Lee and Kevin Bettencourt also were on hand in Los Angeles for taping of the program as well as to participate in a Bucknell reception the night before the awards were announced.
"What a wonderful experience this week has been," said Flannery from Los Angeles . "ESPN treated us just like any of the other big names in sports across the country. I really had the sense that Bucknell has the respect and admiration of the sports world. I just wish I could have had everyone from Bucknell and Lewisburg here to share it with me."
For Bucknell, the award caps a history-making season and continues a four-month ride in the national media limelight that started when No. 14-seeded Bucknell beat No. 3-seeded Kansas in a 64-63 thriller in March. Agreed by many as the biggest basketball win in its 110-year team history, it also was the first NCAA victory in three trips for the Bison and the first-ever tourney win for a Patriot League team.
Flannery said one of most significant aspects of the ESPY experience was seeing Bucknell's name recognition and the good will it brought.
"I can't tell you how many people recognized the Bison logo and took the time to come up and congratulate us," he said. "Before the show, all of the people from ESPN commented that Bucknell must have an awful lot of fans out there. To all of those who have shown such tremendous support to our basketball program and our university, I just can't thank you enough."
The "Best Upset" ESPY is one of 35 categories in this year's 13th annual awards contest presented for Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly. The list of recipients is a who's who list from the world of sport and this year includes Lance Armstrong, the Boston Red Sox, Curt Schilling, and Annika Sorenstam.
ESPY winners are selected by the fans via online voting and as ESPN describes the ESPY awards presentation program, " No other award brings together all of sport, honoring the best performances, most memorable moments and, with the presentation of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, those whose courage and conviction transcend sport."
Richard Boddie '61 was one of the dozens of 100 alumni, students and parents attending a Los Angeles reception at The Regency Club the night before the ESPY awards were announced.
"I was again so proud to be a Bucknellian," said Boddie. "What a great day it was. Bucknell is now finally on the map nationwide."
Speaking at the reception, hosted by Frank Arentowicz '69, the Bucknell basketball co-captains Bettencourt and Lee said they were thrilled to be in Los Angeles . "We've been overwhelmed by the support alumni have shown us everywhere we've gone," said Lee.
Bettencourt said in Los Angeles that at the time of the NCAA Tournament win in Oklahoma City they didn't appreciate the full impact such a win would have on them as individuals and as a team.
"Winning the ESPY Award is really exciting, something I will remember forever," said Bettencourt. "It shows the significance of the win that we had, that so many people would take notice and recognize Bucknell. It is a very special honor."
President Mitchell said Bucknell's student-athletes, Coach Flannery and his staff deserve accolades for focusing positive national attention on the university, but that the latest honor wouldn't have possible without the support of all those who took time to cast their online vote for Bucknell.
"To all those who voted – students and parents, alumni, faculty and staff, our extended community, and new friends across the country – thank you," said Mitchell. "We not only have a great team, we have proven again that we have great fans, too."
Mitchell said that in addition to the way the team handled itself on the court, the team represented the student-athlete model in an "extraordinary way."
"They are not young men who are waiting to sign NBA contracts," Mitchell said. "They are engineers, scientists, and writers, who happen to excel at their sport. Bucknell is the unique type of university, like our Patriot League colleagues, where student-athletes can receive a top-notch education and compete at the highest level of collegiate sport."
"We remain forever grateful for and thankful to each and every member of this team for their commitment to the scholar-athlete model and for giving us much to celebrate," Mitchell added.
Bucknell's competition in the "Best Upset" category was Vermont's NCAA Tournament victory over Syracuse; Puerto Rico's men's basketball victory over the United States at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens; and Giacomo's Kentucky Derby win against 50-1 odds.
The ESPYs are also distinguished by its charitable contribution. A portion of the proceeds each year is donated to The V Foundation, established by ESPN with the late Jim Valvano, and presented at the inaugural ESPYs. Valvano was head coach at Bucknell from 1972-75. The V Foundation has raised over $45 million for cancer research since its inception in 1993.
Bucknell's victory over third-seeded Kansas in March was the crowning moment in a terrific 23-10 season. Center Chris McNaughton's jump hook in the paint with 10.5 seconds remaining proved to be the winning shot. While Bucknell was playing its third NCAA Tournament game, and its first since 1989, Kansas was in its 107th tourney contest, fourth-most in NCAA history.
Complete list of ESPY Award winners
Harrisburg, Pa., Patriot-News - Coaches aren't required
Salem (Mass.) News - Bettencourt gets taste of ESPY awards
PatsFans.com – Local flavor at the Espy Awards
Los Angeles reception photo gallery
Bucknell vs. Kansas game recap
Bucknell men's basketball