The Literacy Champion Award recipient is a coach who has used the game of basketball, his program and his players to promote to children the importance of reading, writing, and technological skills. The Award recognizes the ongoing selfless efforts in bringing the importance of enhanced literacy skills through visits to schools, inviting students to their campuses, and acquiring funding to support their projects of promoting reading and literature. The Award acknowledges the efforts of the coach whose teaching and leadership are generally thought to occur on the basketball court, but uses his position to enhance literacy in children.
While the head coach at Wisconsin-Parkside, Coach Rutter developed the Adopt-a-Ranger program and the Junior Rangers and built a strong connection with schools in the Racine-Kenosha area.
As an assistant at the University of Northern Iowa from 2003-06, the men's basketball program, under the direction of Rutter, has offered a unique speaking program to elementary and middle schools in Cedar Falls, Waterloo and surrounding communities. The "Adopt a Panther" program has been presented to well over 60 schools and has distributed approximately 18,000 complimentary tickets to UNI basketball games.
During each visit, Rutter and two members of the men's basketball team conduct a 45-minute, all-school assembly. The presentation also allows for interaction between the students and the speakers. Each year a new theme is presented. The first year the theme was "Be Your Best" (the content included such areas as taking advantage of life's positive opportunities and staying away from life's negative distractions). The second theme was "School Rocks" (the message focused on understanding and valuing the importance of education, and stressed that "school is cool"). Each program always concludes with a fun game of "Face the Nation", which is a one-on-one basketball game between a student and a Panther player.
Past Recipients- NABC
Literacy Champion Award
Fran Fraschilla, ESPN
Mike Krzyzewski, Duke University
Charlie Brock, Springfield College
Gene Keady, Purdue University
Willis Wilson, Rice University
Tubby Smith, University Kentucky