LULA to honor Div. I, Club Sports athletes starting this fall
Former Liberty University football coach Morgan Hout has taken a charge from Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. to create the Liberty University Lettermen's Association — both for the Flames' NCAA Division I athletes and those competing at the Club Sports level.
"I've done a lot of research and I don't know of any club sports program in America that has a letterman program," said Hout, LULA's Administrator. "We're basically inventing the wheel, not reinventing it."
|This is the official crest to be featured on all ceremonial apparel worn by student-athletes, past and present, who are members of the Liberty University Lettermen's Association.|
Hout announced plans to kick off the Lettermen's Association at the start of the 2013-14 school year during the Club Sports end-of-the-year banquet on May 1. He also introduced the association's new crest.
"Liberty University Club Sports is excited to be a part of such a groundbreaking new club," said Kirk Handy, Liberty's director of Club Sports. "This type of organization really has been predominantly in the athletics area only and now is going to be in Athletics and in Club Sports here."
Bob Good, Liberty's associate athletic director for development, echoed Handy's remarks in expressing support for the association.
"We are excited about the effort led by Coach Morgan Hout to establish a lettermen's club at Liberty," said Good, who also serves as executive director of the Flames Club, the athletic department's primary fundraising organization. "This is a much-needed initiative, and we trust that it will be a blessing to our former student-athletes and to Liberty University. We would be glad to help with this mission in any way we can."
LULA is designed to honor current and former players who have made significant contributions to the success of their respective teams.
Hout will rely on Liberty's coaches to set the standards for their athletes to become eligible letter-winners, tailoring those criteria to their respective sports.
"It's meant to be a meaningful way to honor those who have given so much to our programs," Hout said, noting the official lettering process will start with the 2013-14 school year. "Nothing's going to be given to these folks. They're going to have to have earned it."
Working out of Liberty's Division of Auxiliary Services, Hout is looking for any way to support former Flames and bring them back into the university community in meaningful ways. The lettermen's association will help establish and maintain ties that bind alumni — specifically those who were student-athletes — and the university.
"What I would envision is getting our former students and really getting behind Liberty University, to see where we are right now and where we're going and how much we need their help," he said, noting he would enlist graduates from across the country and around the world. "Getting these people on board and getting them to help us recruit students and support the program, that was the vision that I had."
Hout realizes starting up LULA will be a massive undertaking.
"This is not going to be an easy task," he said. "It's not just going to happen. We've got a lot of work to do, organizationally, and we're working very hard to get that done. It's baby steps at this point. It's not now what it is going to be 10 years from now."
Seeking to involve as many hands as possible, Hout has met with the majority of Liberty's Club Sports coaches as well as head football coach Turner Gill, men's basketball coach Dale Layer, women's basketball coach Carey Green, and cheerleading coach Jenny Sydnor.
"There are a lot of spokes in this wheel," he said. "We want to take it a step at a time and do it the right way. We're trying to set a standard here and doing something that no other school has done, so there is no blueprint for this. I've always believed in building a firm foundation. We want to make sure to structure it so we won't have to make a lot of wholesale changes."
Hout has relevant experience in getting an organization up and running. As Liberty's head football coach from 1984 to 1988, he relied on God's lead to lay the groundwork for the future of the program.
"When we were here in the '80s, and we were building a football team, we had a task that God gave us," Hout said. "As long as He was here to help us and be with us, it was going to be a success. We were doing the right things fundamentally, recruiting the right student-athletes, and asking them to do the right things. With the lettermen's association, we want to be doing it the right way."