UMO's Cates receives national award

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INDIANAPOLIS - The NCAA Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee selected Brenda Cates from the University of Mount Olive as the winner of the 2021 Dr. Dave Pariser Faculty Mentor Award.

A math professor at UMO, Cates has served as the school’s faculty athletics representative since 2003. She was selected for her consistent and passionate devotion to student-athlete excellence in the classroom and her advocacy on behalf of student-athletes on campus and within the Division II governance structure.

“I can’t overstate what it means to me to be honored by the Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee with this award,” Cates said upon being informed of the recognition. “I’ve always believed in helping student-athletes maximize their potential and blossom into leaders who will have a positive impact on our society, so to be recognized by such an influential group of student-athletes for my passion in this regard is truly humbling and rewarding.”

The Dr. Dave Pariser Faculty Mentor Award is named after a Bellarmine physical therapy professor who died in 2013. It recognizes faculty members at Division II schools for their dedication to supporting and mentoring student-athletes, as well as their commitment to Division II student-athletes’ lifelong learning, competition and wellbeing. 

Cates will receive the award at the Division II Faculty Mentor Award presentation and reception during the 2022 NCAA Convention in Indianapolis. 

Joan Davison of Rollins, who received the award in 2020 but was not recognized in person because the 2021 convention was held virtually, will also be honored during the reception.

Cates is well known for keeping lines of communication open between coaches and faculty members at UMO. She provides academic support to student-athletes who may need additional attention while also developing recognition programs for student-athletes who are excelling in the classroom.

In addition, Cates keeps the athletics department abreast of NCAA rules changes and helps determine student-athlete eligibility. Cates has represented UMO and Conference Carolinas on several NCAA Division II committees: Academic Requirements Committee, Legislation Committee and the Management Council, on which she is currently serving a second term.

“This is a really big deal,” said Chris Colvin, Conference Carolinas commissioner. “There is only one recipient each year and I cannot think of anyone more fitting for this honor than Dr. Cates. She truly embodies everything we stand for in Conference Carolinas and she has been a huge asset to us in the conference office in so many different ways. 

“On behalf of everyone in Conference Carolinas, I want to congratulate Dr. Cates, but more importantly, thank her for her commitment to the University of Mount Olive, Conference Carolinas and NCAA Division II.”

In 2019, Cates was named the NCAA Division II Faculty Athletics Representatives Association FAR of the Year. In 2021, she earned Mount Olive’s Dr. Thomas R. Morris Award for Excellence in Teaching.

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