ST. LOUIS (USBWA) – Oakland University's women's
basketball coach Beckie Francis and Boston College
sports information director Dick Kelley have been
selected as female and male recipients respectively of the
U.S. Basketball Writers Association's Most Courageous Award.
The award is presented annually by the USBWA to honor male and
female athletes, coaches, officials or administrators in college
athletics who have demonstrated extraordinary courage while facing
adversity in life.
The women's most courageous award is named in honor of Pat Summitt,
the former Tennessee coach who received the award last year after
revealing she was suffering from early onset dementia.
For Francis, courage is baring a long-held and painful secret.
For Kelley, it's persevering with day-to-day chores while suffering
from a debilitating disease.
Last fall, Francis publicly disclosed that her now-deceased father
had sexually abused her from the time she was 4 years old until
she was in the seventh grade.
Francis had told her story to her players and fellow church parishioners
before deciding to go public with her experience, partly, she said,
because of the attention the scandal surrounding the accusations
against Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football
"It's not easy to talk about," she said during an interview
with the Associated Press. "It's something I tried to hold
back and hide because I was afraid of what people would think. But
since I have let it go, I am happier than I have ever been. I'm
"I am humbled to receive this award," said Francis. "I
broke down in tears when I was informed the USBWA was recognizing
me for coming forward. I told people, 'This organization really
Boston College's Kelley was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral
sclerosis, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig's disease, in 2011. It's
an incurable disease that affects movement and speech and eventually
Although confined to a wheelchair and in declining health, Kelley
has a viable and vibrant presence on campus and in BC's athletics
department and its basketball program.
"I am overwhelmed and very grateful for this amazing honor,"
wrote Kelley when told he was named a most courageous recipient. "I
have never sought recognition but rather did what I did because
I loved my job and everyone I had the privilege of working with."
Francis will be presented with her most courageous award at the
women's NCAA Final Four in New Orleans. Kelley will receive his
at BC's home game against Virginia on March 3.
In addition, the USBWA will make a donation to the Care
House of Oakland Co. (Mich.) on behalf of Francis and to
Compassionate Care ALS in West Falmouth, Mass. on behalf of
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association was formed in
1956 at the urging of then-NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers.
With some 900 members worldwide, it is one of the most influential
organizations in college basketball. It has selected a women's
All-America team since the 1996-97 season. For more information
on the USBWA and its award programs, contact executive director
Joe Mitch at 314-795-6821.
Most Courageous Award