Sherald James (left) and Gail Miller. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- The BYU Athletics Department honored two individuals for their significant contributions to amateur athletics in a special ceremony on Thursday at the Skyroom on the BYU campus. The late Larry H. Miller was selected as the 2008–09 recipient of the Dale Rex Memorial Award, and former NCAA Coach of the Year and BYU head cross country coach Sherald James was honored as the 2009 recipient of the Foundation of Excellence Award.
“Larry H. Miller and Sherald James are very deserving of these prestigious awards,” said BYU director of athletics Tom Holmoe. “Their contributions to athletics in the state of Utah and at BYU have had an enormous impact.”
Dale Rex Memorial Award
The Dale Rex Memorial Award is presented annually by the Cougar Club to an individual who has made a significant contribution to athletics in the state of Utah. The award was presented to the Larry H. Miller family in honor of his contributions. An avid sports fan and community pillar, Miller donated millions of dollars to Utah’s colleges and universities during his lifetime. He also established Larry H. Miller Charities, which has contributed millions to the community.
The owner of KJZZ TV, the Anaheim Angels AAA-affiliated Salt Lake Bees and the NBA’s Utah Jazz, Miller worked tirelessly to promote athletics at all levels. One example of Miller’s influence in encouraging young athletes is Junior Jazz Basketball, which has involved more than 1.3 million youth participants in six states since it was started in 1983.
Miller built EnergySolutions Arena, home of the Jazz, which has become one of the nation’s premier professional arenas. He was also instrumental in the building of FranklinQuest Park, which hosts the Bees and numerous professional, college and high school games. He also donated the critical lead gift to build BYU’s Larry H. Miller Field and Gail Miller Field at Miller Park, state-of-the-art baseball and softball facilities. His efforts over the years were vital in developing strong athletic programs throughout the state.
The Dale Rex Memorial Award was established in 1947 to honor the memory of BYU All-American basketball star and World War II hero Dale Brough Rex. Sergeant Rex, who received the Distinguished Service Cross for his valor in battle, was killed in action in Germany on Dec. 18, 1944. Previous recipients include Olympic silver medalist Frank Fredericks, Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer, National Football League MVP Steve Young, National Champions Missy Marlowe and Cael Sanderson Wooden Award winner Danny Ainge, and notable coaches including Dave Rose, Bronco Mendenhall and LaVell Edwards.
Foundation of Excellence Award
The Foundation of Excellence Award is given annually by the BYU Varsity Club to an individual whose contributions helped lay the foundation of BYU's athletic success. Former Cougar cross country and track coach Sherald James was instrumental in developing the BYU track and cross country programs into national powerhouses. A BYU coach from 1961 to 1998 and a professor of health education and physical education for 41 years, James taught over 11,000 students and coached more than 3,800 athletes in his lifetime.
James’ BYU teams won 59 conference championships in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track while 73 of his athletes received All-America honors. He coached four World Record holders, and his athletes set 14 American records. His emphasis on academics as well as athletics led to six of his teams receiving the highest grade point average in the NCAA and 10 BYU athletes under his tutelage earned Academic All-America honors.
In 1993, James was honored with the highest award in his profession when he was named as the NCAA National Coach of the Year.
Previous recipients of the Foundation of Excellence Award include Michael King, Ann Valentine, Stan Watts, Karl Tucker, Lu Wallace, Rod Kimball and Floyd Johnson.