NCAA Basketball Tournament East Regional: Wofford College Plays University of Wisconsin

NCAA Basketball Tournament East Regional: Wofford Plays University of Wisconsin

On Sunday, an enthusiastic gathering of Wofford students, alumni and other supporters joined the 2010 Southern Conference basketball champions on the Wofford College campus, and learned the team’s destination for the NCAA Basketball Tournament.  Wofford will head to Jacksonville (FL) to play the University of Wisconsin on Friday.

Wofford finished the regular season with a 26-8 record and earned a No. 13 seed in the NCAA tournament.  The Wisconsin Badgers, who earned the No. 4 seed in the East Regional, enter the tournament with a 23-8 overall record.  The trip marks the first time in program history that Wofford has earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament.  Wofford enters the tournament as the Southern Conference champion.

The winner of Wofford’s first-round game will then face the winner of the game between No. 5 seed Temple and No. 12 seed Cornell University on Sunday, March 21.

NCAA Basketball Tournament Selections: Wofford College Plays Univ. of Wisconsin

2009 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament: One Shining Moment (Luther Vandross)

Listen to Wofford College Coach Mike Young’s wonderful comments about his players on Wofford’s Southern Conference Championship team on NPR’s Only A Game here.

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Wofford College Beats Appalachian State University 56-51, Earns First NCAA Tournament Berth!

Wofford Beats Appalachian State University 56-51, Earns 1st NCAA Tournament Berth!

Cameron Rundles scored 20 points, and Wofford used a stifling defense to overcome a long second-half scoring drought to beat Appalachian State University 56-51 on Monday night for the Southern Conference Title and its first NCAA tournament berth.  Now, Wofford is hardly a household name, so just who is this Wofford College team?  Well, for starters, let’s put Wofford’s Southern Conference Championship Title in perspective.  Wofford College is one of the smallest schools playing Division I basketball, and it’s known primarily for its rigorous academic standards.

Wofford has fewer than 1500 students, about half of whom are men.  It was an old NAIA college, and Wofford has never been in the NCAA tournament, nor has it ever played in the NIT.  The Wofford Terriers have never even won a conference tournament or a regular-season title.  But looking back over this season, the Terriers should have been much more on everyone’s mind.  Wofford was one possession away from winning at Pittsburgh in the season opener (they lost by only 3 points), defeated both Georgia and South Carolina of the SEC and went 15-3 during the regular season in a respected league.

Currently, Wofford is 26-8, winning its 13th straight game and 19 of its last 20 games.  So there was a very large crowd of very happy supporters at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte (NC) last night, and Wofford’s tournament victory led to a giddy dancing and singing celebration on the floor.

With the win, the Terriers have earned the conference’s automatic bid to the 2010 NCAA Tournament.  The 2010 men’s basketball selection show will be held Sunday, March 14 at 6:00 p.m. and will be televised on CBS.

You can read more about the Southern Conference Championship game here.

Wofford College Headed To Big Dance, Wins SoCon Tournament

Slide Show: Wofford Beats Appalachian State 56-51, Earns 1st NCAA Tournament Berth!

(Please Click on Image to View Slide Show of Game Photographs)

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Wofford Beats Western Carolina University 78-58 in Southern Conference Tournament

Wofford Beats Western Carolina University 78-58 in Southern Conference Tournament

After its decisive 77-58 win over Western Carolina University on Sunday night, the Wofford College basketball team has advanced to the Southern Conference Tournament Championship game for the first time in school history. Wofford made 15-of-16 free throws in the final three minutes of the game to claim the victory at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, NC. Wofford has now won twelve in a row (and eighteen of its last nineteen games) and is 25-8 on the season and 15-3 in the Southern Conference.

Wofford will play Appalachian State University in the Championship Finals, which will be televised nationally on ESPN2 and be played at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte at 9:00 pm on Monday night. The winner of that game will earn the conference’s automatic bid to the 2010 NCAA Tournament.

Slide Show: Wofford Beats Western Carolina 78-58 in Southern Conference Tournament

(Please Click Image to View Slide Show of Game Photographs)

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Myron Rolle Wins Rhodes Scholarship: A Star Football Player and Scholar

Myron Rolle Wins The Rhodes Scholarship: A Star Football Player and Scholar

Florida State safety Myron Rolle was awarded a Rhodes scholarship Saturday. He is the first major-college football player of his generation to win what is considered the world’s most prestigious postgraduate academic scholarship.

He became the most prominent student-athlete to win the award since Bill Bradley at Princeton in 1965. Bradley was later a Knicks basketball star, U.S. Senator and Presidential candidate. Other winners have included Pat Haden (U.S.C. and the Rams) and Tom McMillen (The Univ. of Maryland, the N.B.A. and Congress).

Rolle’s quest to the win the Rhodes had received heavy attention from the news media, because he chose to risk missing all or part of Florida State’s pivotal game at The University of Maryland on Saturday night to have the interview, which took place in Birmingham, Alabama.

Rolle received the news about 5 p.m. Saturay afternoon; he then received a police escort to a local airport, where a private plane waited to take him to the game. He entered the game late in the second quarter of a 37-3 Florida State victory. “He is flying high,” Sally Karioth, a Florida State nursing professor who accompanied Rolle to his interview, said before the game. “He was hopping. He’s usually real sedate.”

Rolle was one of two winners selected from 13 finalists interviewed on Saturday in Birmingham. Parker Goyer, a former player on the women’s tennis team at Duke, was the other winner.

You can read more about Myron Rolle here.

Myron Rolle as a Student-Athlete at Florida State University

Flying with Rolle on the Plane to the Game

Florida State Beats Maryland, and Rolle Wins the Rhodes

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Tiny Wofford College Smashes The University of Tennessee/Chattanooga, 56-7!!

Wofford Smashes The University of Tennessee/Chattanooga, 56-7

Defending Southern Conference champion Wofford College was back in action yesterday, taking on The University of Tennessee/Chattanooga after having a week off. Wofford’s only loss this season was a last-minute upset loss to The University of South Carolina, playing before 86,000 fans in Carolina’s Bryce Stadium.

Saturday was a day for big plays as No. 9 Wofford (4-1/2-0) scored five of their seven touchdowns from 20 yards or more to claim a 56-7 win over Chattanooga (1-6/0-3). For Wofford, the victory over Chattanooga is yet another a measure of a program that graduated 17 seniors, lost 13 of 24 starters and still finds itself with a 4-1 record and ranked ninth in the country.

Coming off a 9-4 record, an appearance in the FCS quarterfinals and a share of the Southern Conference championship, many observers thought that Wofford would be too inexperienced to make a serious run at national honors in 2008. But Wofford coach Mike Ayers wasn’t one of those doubters. “To a certain extent, I’m not surprised,” said Ayers, now in his 21st year as head coach. “After spring ball, we felt we had a number of older kids that knew what we were trying to do.”

Add to that maybe the best freshman class in school history and the Terriers have been able to climb to unexpected heights. “We’ve worked really hard on our guys from the start to pressure them into maturing more quickly,” explained Ayers, who has team tied for first place with Appalachian State and Elon in the SoCon with a 2-0 record.

In Wofford’s complex, triple-option offensive system, discipline and execution are paramount to success and those attributes were apparent in large supply as the Terriers rolled to a 56-7 Southern Conference victory over Tennessee- Chattanooga on Saturday afternoon before 8,394 fans at Wofford’s Gibbs Stadium.

Quarterback Ben Widmyer, who took over the controls of the wingbone attack from the graduated Josh Collier, got the Terriers rolling early with a 75-yard option run for a touchdown on Wofford’s second offensive play. After Chattanooga scored to even the game at seven apiece, Wofford went on to score 49 unanswered points.

Widmyer, who finished with eight carries for 158 yards and completed 3-of-5 passes for 110 yards and two scores, gave the Terriers the lead for good with 8:30 left in the second period on a 35-yard TD jaunt. After he fired a scoring strike of 28 yards to tight end Fenn Allen, connected with true freshman Eric Breitenstein on a 32-yard wheel route to set up Breitenstein’s five-yard TD burst and hit Andy Strickland on a 50-yard touchdown aerial, Widmyer retired to the sidelines just 62 seconds into the second half as the Terriers held a 35-7 lead.

Nevertheless, even with Widmyer and most of the starters watching, the Wofford reserves continued to play with precision on a day when the Terriers piled up 564 yards of total offense. And for Wofford, the remainder of the second half ended up being more of the same, as the ninth-ranked Terriers pulled away with big plays to end the game with 56 points.

Update: On Tuesday, October 14th, The Sports Network’s FCS College Football Poll Ranked Wofford College 4th in the nation.

Wofford Defeats Georgia Southern in OT, 38-37

Wofford’s Last-Minute Upset Loss to South Carolina

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Vernon Baker Hailed: African-American World War II Hero

Vernon Baker Hailed: African-American World War II Hero

On September 11th, 2008, the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks, Wofford College, a small liberal arts college in Spartanburg, South Carolina, paid honor to Vernon Baker. Baker is the only living African-American to have been awarded the World War II Medal of Honor. Describing Vernon Baker as “the greatest hero you or I will ever meet in our lifetime,” Bernie Dunlap’s voice choked with emotion as the Wofford College President spoke about Vernon Baker in front of a standing-room-only crowd last Thursday at Leonard Auditorium in Wofford’s historic Old Main Building.

Dunlap presented Baker, the only living African-American recipient of the Medal of Honor for valor during World War II, with the college’s third annual Sandor Teszler Award for Moral Courage and Service to Humankind to a thunderous standing ovation during Wofford’s opening convocation ceremony. Dunlap and Wofford College Dean David Wood also presented Baker, 89, with an Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree, and Spartanburg’s Mayor William Barnet followed by giving Baker a key to the city. “It is September 11, and we remember that this is a difficult and challenging world,” Barnet told the crowd. “But we will always remember our heroes, whether they admit they’re heroes or not, and today we honor one.”

Dunlap first learned of Baker’s story by watching an NBC documentary about Baker that was broadcast during last Winter’s Olympics and later reading Baker’s autobiography, Lasting Valor. Baker, has “endured decades of some of the worst this country offered to 20th century black America,” Dunlap said. Baker served in the Army as a lieutenant with the 370th Regiment. On April 5th and 6th, 1945, he destroyed four German machine gun nests near Viareggio, Italy, at Castle Aghinolfi, a German mountain strong point on the high ground. He killed nine enemy soldiers with a gun and hand grenades.

For his service, Baker also earned the Purple Heart, a Bronze Star and the Distinguished Service Cross in addition to the Medal of Honor. However, It took 52 years before those heroics were recognized. Baker, because he was an African-American, was not officially honored for his bravery until 1997 when he and six of his comrades finally received the Medal of Honor from then-President Bill Clinton. Of the group honored by Clinton, Vernon has the only honoree still living.

The Sandor Teszler Award, which was also given to Baker, carries with it a $10,000 gift and honors the late Sandor Teszler, a Jewish immigrant who came to the Carolinas after he and his family were nearly killed by the Nazis during World War II. Teszler, for whom Wofford’s college library is named, was a friend of the college and a textile businessman who was one of the first to desegregate textile mills in the Carolinas. Previous recipients of the Teszler Award have been Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and President of the Children’s Defense Fund, in 2006, and Paul Farmer, Founding Director of the international charity organization Partners in Health, last year.

Wofford College Honors WWII Hero Vernon Baker

Interview with Vernon Baker: WWII Medal of Honor Winner

NBC Documentary: Vernon Baker Honored after 52 Years

Wofford College’s Sandor Teszler Award

Wofford College, in Spartanburg (SC), honored Joseph Vernon Baker, the only living African-American recipient of the Medal of Honor for valor during World War II. Wofford presented Baker with The Sandor Teszler Award for Moral Courage and Service to Humankind during the college’s opening convocation ceremonies on September 11, 2008.

The Sandor Teszler Award represents the highest ideals that the Wofford community embraces, and it carries with it a $10,000 award. Sandor Teszler was born in the old Austro-Hungarian empire, and during World War II Teszler, his wife and two sons were taken to a death camp on the Danube River, where the Nazi victims were systematically beaten to death. They were prepared for imminent death, but then they unexpectedly were rescued by an official from the Swiss Embassy. Immigrating to America and coming to the Carolinas, Sandor Teszler became a leader in the textile industry, soon becoming one of the very first to desegregate the textile mills. During the last decade of his life, Teszler graced the Wofford campus, “attending so many classes that the faculty, acknowledging a wisdom and experience greater than their own, honored themselves by making him a professor.”

Historical Notes on Wofford College’s Tribute to Joseph Vernon Baker

Wofford College is one of only a handful of colleges and universities in the United States that were founded prior to the Civil War, which still operates and remains on its original campus. The Wofford campus has been designated a National Historic District, and five of its six original college buildings are still in use today. Wofford has become known in the wider academic world as a true “Phoenix rising from the ashes.” The college was devastated by the loss of almost its entire endowment as a result of the Civil War. However, despite its meager financial resources, Wofford proudly struggled through the next twelve decades to provide an academically challenging education to its small student body. One illustration of the sterling academic quality maintained by the college is the fact that forty-two Wofford College alumni have gone on to serve as college and university presidents.

The commemoration of Joseph Vernon Baker and the courage exemplified in his life carries a special confluence with a certain aspect of Wofford’s own history. Founded in 1854, for over a century Wofford was a small private liberal arts college that was segregated, attracting almost all of its white students from the Old South. In 1962 and 1963, public colleges and universities throughout the region had begun to desegregate, almost always forced to do so at the direction of federal court orders and accompanied by significant resistance and often violence. In the face of strong and heated public sentiments against desegregation, as well as by anticipated bitterness concerning the college’s plans for integration and withdrawal of financial support for the college on the part of some of its alumni, supporters and friends, Wofford’s officers were undaunted and forged ahead, quietly beginning to make plans for desegregation. In the fall semester of 1964, the college opened its doors with an admissions policy that was equally applicable and nondiscriminatory to all students who might wish to apply, regardless of their race or creed. Steadfastly committed to its decision to make a stand for human equality, Wofford thus became one of the very first private colleges in the Old South to peacefully integrate.

Vernon Baker is now 89 years-old and lives in St. Maries, Idaho. Mr. Baker had earned the Medal of Honor 52 years before he and six of his military comrades actually received the award in 1997 from then-President Bill Clinton at a special White House ceremony. Mr. Baker was the only one who was still living to accept the Medal of Honor in person, the military’s highest award for bravery in battle. “They helped America to become more worthy of them and more true to its ideals,” Clinton said at the White House observance.

Vernon Baker, who had served as a lieutenant with the 370th Infantry Regiment, was cited for his “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his own life” for his actions on April 5 and 6th, 1945, when he destroyed four German machine gun nests near Viareggio, Italy, at Castle Aghinolfi, a critical German high-ground mountain defense post. He killed nine enemy soldiers with a gun and hand grenades. Mr. Baker also was awarded the Purple Heart, a Bronze Star and the Distinguished Service Cross for his heroic actions in Italy.

Lt. Joseph Vernon Baker: An Honor Long Deferred

In the January 14th, 1997 edition of The New York Times, James Bennett wrote a moving article about the White House ceremony, which came a half-century after most of them had died in combat. On January 13th, 1997, seven soldiers finally were awarded the Medals of Honor that they deserved, but which had been denied after World War II because they were African-Americans. Of the seven men, Joseph Vernon Baker was the only one of the decorated soldiers who was still alive.

Their abilities and courageous actions in combat had been routinely derided by white officers. The very soldiers who were finally honored on that day had been forced to fight in segregated units, protecting the very freedoms that they did not fully share.

History has been made whole today,” Mr. Clinton declared, while standing in the East Room of the White House in front of Gilbert Stuart’s full-length portrait of George Washington, ”and our nation is bestowing honor on those who have long deserved it.”

Lt. Vernon Baker: An Honor Long Deferred

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Yes We Can: American Stories of Hope

Yes We Can: American Stories of Hope

Qasim Basir is a young filmmaker living in New York City who has been inspired by Barack Obama. In an article on The Huffington Post, Qasim wrote that, “He has inspired me, a usually self-motivated individual, to try to be a better person overall. I sometimes find myself in situations where I have a choice to do my best or just get by. And something in me refers back to something Obama may have said about making this country better. Then I realize that if I can do better in all of my endeavors and we all do the same as a collective nation, this place can actually get better.”

As a filmmaker, Qasim wanted to do something in support of the man that he so admired. By chance, one of his filmmaker friends in Los Angeles, Mike Lynch, was thinking along the same lines. Late one night, Qasim received a call from Lynch in his small Manhattan studio. Lynch said, “Qasim, we need to do something to support Obama.” That call sparked a flame in Qasim that inspired him to stay up all night and draft some ideas for a short film series. He wanted the series of short films to capture the quality that he most admired about Barack Obama.

It was by no means easy for Qasim to achieve his vision. It took everything that he and Lynch had to pull together enough resources to be able to finish the series of films. Along the way, they received free assistance from some usually highly paid professionals and raised most of the financial support for the film series through friends’ donations. Qasim feels that, “That’s why what we did here is so significant. We took a page out of Obama’s book and were successful at it. Almost like a prototype, test, or a living example of how his plan for this country can really work. A grass roots effort, people pulling together with a common purpose, even without all the necessary means, can make something positive and significant happen. I like to say that we accomplished this with nothing but Hope.”

Entitled The Inspiration of Barack: “Yes We Can” Film Series, Qasim refers to them as “Seven American Stories of Hope.” Each of the short films is about different people who, in the face of suffering and hardships in their lives, were inspired by Obama to confront their hardships and take an essential step forward. Each of the titles begins with Yes We Can, which is followed by College, Economy, Family, Housing, Immigration, Vote and War.

A screening of The Inspiration of Barack: “Yes We Can” Film Series, along with a “behind the scenes” video, is scheduled to place at 7 p.m. on Friday, September 12th at Tribeca Cinemas (54 Varick St., New York City).

Yes We Can: College

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