Dr. Mary Jo Wynn Named 2009 John Sanders 'Spirit of the Valley' Award Recipient
ST. LOUIS -- The Missouri Valley Conference announced today that former Missouri State University coach and administrator Dr. Mary Jo Wynn has been selected as the 2009 recipient of the John Sanders ‘Spirit of The Valley’ Award.
The Missouri Valley Conference presents the ‘Spirit of The Valley’ Award to honor a student-athlete, coach or university administrator who exemplifies the spirit of the late John Sanders, former MVC assistant commissioner for operations. Criteria includes, but is not limited to, passion for the Conference, strong work ethic and sense of humor.
The presentation of the award will take place during the Presidents Hall of Fame Brunch at Scottrade Center in downtown St. Louis on Friday, March 5, 2010, with a program that follows an 8 a.m. breakfast.
“Each and every Missouri Valley Conference award has its place,” said MVC Commissioner Doug Elgin, who is in his 22nd year with The Valley. “The John Sanders ‘Spirit of The Valley’ Award holds a special meaning for not only our staff but for the league as a whole. We are extremely honored that Mary Jo Wynn will accept this award from our membership.”
The league began presenting the award in 2005, when former Indiana State director of athletics Andi Myers became the first recipient. Since then, Missouri State director of athletics Bill Rowe (2006), MVC television personality Mitch Holthus (2007), Southern Illinois radio play-by-play voice Mike Reis (2008) and former MVC coordinator of men’s basketball officials Johnny Overby (2009) have been honored.
A native of Hartville, Mo., Dr. Wynn retired from the Missouri State athletic department in 1998 after 40 years of service to her alma mater, including nearly a quarter century as a senior athletics administrator.
A 1953 MSU graduate, Wynn was named the first Missouri State director of women’s athletics in 1975 and concluded her career as senior associate director of athletics and senior woman administrator when the men’s and women’s athletics departments merged in 1992.
Dr. Wynn worked as a teacher and coach and helped make Missouri State a dominant member of the Gateway Collegiate Athletic and Missouri Valley Conferences after MSU moved to Division I in 1982. In Division I during her administrative tenure, Missouri State made seven NCAA appearances in basketball, four in softball and three in volleyball. MSU won nine league tourney titles and eight MVC regular-season crowns.
Wynn organized women’s athletics competition in 1958 with volleyball and tennis teams. Her tenure saw the Missouri State women’s programs grow to 11 sports. Wynn coached volleyball until 1972, guiding the 1969 team to ninth in the first AIAW championship and led the tennis program until her appointment as director of women’s athletics in 1975.
A pioneer in so many ways, Wynn played a major role from the days Missouri State women’s teams operated from within the physical education department to the time MSU became a charter member of the AIAW and then moved to the NCAA in 1982. She was also instrumental in the formation of the Gateway Collegiate Athletic Conference in 1982 and again when the Gateway programs moved to the Missouri Valley Conference on July 1, 1992.
In 1985, Wynn began a support group for women’s athletics, helping MSU lead the nation in women’s basketball attendance in 1992-93 and rank in the top 10 each of her last seven years. A recipient of the Missouri State Outstanding Alumni Award in 1995, she organized the MSU Women’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 1981 and was herself enshrined in 1999 -- the first year of joint men’s and women’s hall inductions.
She received the 1999 NACWAA Lifetime Achievement Award -- an honor bestowed to an administrator who dedicated their career to advancing women in sport. In 1998, Missouri State University renamed its top academic award for female student-athletes the Dr. Mary Jo Wynn Senior Female Scholar-Athlete Award in her honor.
Tickets to the Presidents Hall of Fame Brunch are $40 per person. For information on how to attend the event, please contact the Missouri Valley Conference office at 314/421-0339.