Oregon State women’s basketball earns 2020 Pac-12 Sportsmanship Award

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Eric Evans/GoDucks.com

SAN FRANCISCO - The Pac-12 Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) voted to award the OREGON STATE women’s basketball team with the Pac-12 Sportsmanship Award for the 2019-20 season, the Conference office announced today. Nominated by the University of OREGON SAAC, the honor recognizes the strength of character and tremendous sportsmanship of the Beavers towards the Ducks prior to a rivalry game.

Pac-12 Networks hosts Ashley Adamson and Mike Yam sit down with Oregon State's Aleah Goodman and Maddie Washington on today's installment of the Pac-12 Perspective podcast, presented by Nike. In the episode, Goodman and Washington discuss the day that transcended sport and showcased the true sportsmanship and humanity between the Oregon State and Oregon women's basketball programs. The Pac-12 Perspective podcast is available now wherever fans get their podcasts and on pac-12.com.

On Jan. 26, 2020 the basketball world was grief stricken by the news of the death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, a huge influence on basketball and female equality in sport, his 14-year-old daughter Gianna “Gigi,” and seven others. The news broke two hours before tipoff of the OSU-UO women’s basketball game. Despite the longtime rivalry between the two nationally-ranked teams, the Beavers put competition and feelings aside by showing deep care and concern for the emotions of the Ducks’ team members prior to the start of the game because of the Ducks’ personal connection with Bryant and his daughter. OSU demonstrated what it means to BEOREGON, UO’s call to action initiative “to be their most authentic selves,” and displayed how sport truly builds bridges.

On that Sunday, then-No. 4 Oregon traveled to then-No. 7 Oregon State for a 1 p.m. tipoff in front of a sold-out crowd on national television. It was the second meeting of the Civil War Series in three days. Little did anyone know that tragedy would strike four hours before the game. As much of the world would come to know, Bryant served as a mentor to Oregon senior Sabrina Ionescu, who had a deep connection with him and Gigi. He also was a frequent visitor to the team’s locker room whenever it played in Los Angeles. When the news was first reported on social media approximately 90 minutes before the start of the game, it was obvious that both teams were devastated. The Oregon team, however, took it particularly hard. The Oregon State student-athletes recognized how distraught some of them were and quickly jumped into action. The Beavers approached the Ducks to ask if they could say a prayer together in memory of the nine victims. The two teams then came together at center court and held hands in prayer. Afterwards, they each went back to their respective sides of the court to prepare for the game. 

The Beavers recognized that this moment was bigger than the game that was about to be played. Rather than grieving separately, they showed that some things are bigger than competition and should result in unity. It is very rare that moments like these occur and, for this reason, the Pac-12 SAAC chose to honor Oregon State with the Conference’s Sportsmanship Award.

The Sportsmanship Award is selected by members of the Pac-12 SAAC and is based on good sportsmanship and ethical behavior in participation of intercollegiate athletics, as well as a demonstration of good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting. Nominees must have demonstrated the values of respect and integrity through a specific action. The student-athlete or team must have consistently demonstrated the values of respect and integrity in their daily participation in intercollegiate athletics. Conference award winners are then nominated for the NCAA Division I Sportsmanship Award.

UTAH nominated Brody Lewis, men’s swimming and diving team captain, in recognition of a thoughtful and generous act on behalf of a teammate who was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He asked CALIFORNIA alum and U.S. Swimming Olympian, Nathan Adrian, if he could reach out and mentor the teammate. Adrian himself had survived the same illness and persevered, reaching new athletic heights and serving as a role model for cancer survivors everywhere. 

The Oregon State pep band was nominated after it learned the Utah fight song in one day and played it numerous times during the OSU/Utah first round game at the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament in Las Vegas in March. The Utah band did not travel to Las Vegas due to the emerging COVID-19. OSU’s efforts were applauded by Utah fans everywhere and by the entire Pac-12 band and spirit community.

Previous Pac-12 Sportsmanship Award winners:

Previous Pac-12 Sportsmanship Award winners:
2004    Grayling Love, Arizona State
2005    Channing Frye, Arizona; Cara Chlebicki, California
2006    Eric Nygard, Washington State; Anna Key, California
2007    Mitch Canham, Oregon State; Jennifer Tangtiphaiboontana, Stanford
2008    Michael Capbarat, California; Arianna Lambie, Stanford
2009    Stenn Parton, USC; Lindsey Kelley, Arizona
2010    Ben Ashmore, Arizona State; Stanford women’s rowing team
2011    Jeff Gudaitis, Washington; Katie Matusik, Arizona
2012    Bryson Beirne, Arizona; Brittany Hart, Oregon
2013    Kylie Sharp, Washington
2014    University of Colorado Student-Athletes
2015    UCLA women’s gymnastics team
2016    Riley Sorenson, Washington State
2017    Anna Rosen, Washington State
2018    Sarah Shimomura, Arizona
2019    UCLA women’s soccer team
2020    Oregon State women's basketball team