UMW News BureauFor the second straight year, Montana Western was recognized by the National Intercollegiate Athletic Association as a Champions of Character School. By Wally Feldt The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) recognized the University of Montana Western as a Champions of Character Institution for the 2008-09 academic year. “The program is designed to instill an understanding of character values for student-athletes, coaches, parents and younger students,” Montana Western Chancellor Richard Storey said. “It is important that our student-athletes excel off the field and court in academics and community service." Athletic Director Mark Durham says it is as important for Bulldog athletics to integrate the five core values as it is in winning on the court or field. "The Champions of Character is something we strive for every year in our athletic programs,” UMW athletic director Mark Durham added. “We are trying to teach the five core values: integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership. All our coaches work hard at these and get our athletes to volunteer in the community as much as possible.” To be considered a Champions of Character institution, schools must complete a form that shows how the school's athletic program employs the five core values in the campus community to educate student-athletes, coaches, parents and fans on specific standards and expectations. This is the second straight year Montana Western was recognized. “The Champions of Character program supports performance-driven athletics while defining expectations and standards that drive successful teams and athletic departments,” said Rob Haworth, NAIA Vice President for Champions. “I congratulate these fine institutions and thank the administrators, coaches and student-athletes for playing a role in advancing character-driven intercollegiate athletics.” The program currently reaches hundreds of thousands of students on nearly 300 college and university campuses in North America and extends into their surrounding communities.