NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) announced Friday that the annual men’s basketball “Most Courageous” Award has been renamed the Perry Wallace “Most Courageous” Award.
The national award, which is presented at the Final Four each year, recognizes a player, coach, official or administrator who has demonstrated extraordinary courage reflecting honor on the sport of amateur basketball. Along with the award, the USBWA presents a $1,000 check to the charity or scholarship fund as selected by the recipient.
“I can’t think of a more worthy person to grace this award with his name than Perry Wallace,” USBWA President Seth Davis, college basketball reporter for CBS Sports and Managing Editor of The Athletic College Basketball said. “Perry exemplified courage, not to mention character, integrity, perseverance and talent. He epitomizes everything we value about college basketball.”
Funding provided by Vanderbilt University will help cover the travel and lodging expenses of future honorees and their guests at the Final Four.
“We are thrilled that the USBWA has renamed its Most Courageous Award to honor the late Perry Wallace, a brilliant man and pioneer who stands as one of the most courageous figures in the history of college basketball,” Candice Storey Lee, Vanderbilt’s Vice Chancellor for Athletics and University Affairs and Athletic Director said. “Following his days at Vanderbilt, Perry enjoyed a long career as a professor, and I am certain he would be proud to see his name associated with an award that recognizes the most courageous amongst a new generation of college students.
“This award will ensure that Perry’s story is told long into the future, and that means a tremendous amount to all of us who knew him and respected him so much.”
The renaming of the award coincides with Wallace’s birthday.
Wallace made Southeastern Conference history as the SEC’s first African-American basketball player. One of Vanderbilt’s all-time greats, Wallace was a star student-athlete who went on to an outstanding career in law and education.
- First African-American basketball scholarship athlete in Southeastern Conference history
- Jersey retired by Vanderbilt University in 2004, one of only three in school history
- Attended Nashville’s Pearl High School where he stared on undefeated state championship basketball team, the first year Tennessee integrated its high school tournament.
- Sought by approximately 80 universities, mostly located in the north
- Arrived on Vanderbilt’s campus in the fall of 1966
- Still is the school’s second leading rebounder and was a 1,000-point scorer (1,010) in just three years from 1968-70.
- Named all-Southeastern Conference his senior year
- Won the SEC Sportsmanship Trophy after a vote by the league players in 1970 and has been honored many times since leaving Vanderbilt
- In 1996 the National Association of Basketball Coaches named him to its five-man Silver Anniversary All-America team
- 2003 inductee into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame
- 2004 “SEC Living Legend” honoree
- Graduated from Vanderbilt with a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Electrical Engineering and Engineering Mathematics
- Earned his J.D. degree in 1975 from the School of Law at Columbia University.
- Professor of law at The American University in Washington, D.C. since 1991.
- First African American tenured law professor at the University of Baltimore
- Professor at American University’s Washington College of Law, 1991-2017
- On the faculty of the University of Baltimore and was an attorney with the United States Department of Justice.
- Also served as a legislative analyst for Mayor Walter Washington of the District of Columbia and was a field representative for the National Urban League
- Vanderbilt Athletics Hall of Fame inductee Class of 2008