INDIANAPOLIS (USBWA) The U.S. Basketball Writers Association is naming its annual award for extraordinary courage after Perry Wallace of Vanderbilt University, the first African-American basketball player in the Southeastern Conference and the first Black athlete to play a full four-year career in the SEC in any sport.

The Perry Wallace Most Courageous Award will be presented as part of a virtual USBWA awards celebration during the Final Four at Indianapolis in April. Since its creation in 1978, the award has recognized a player, coach, team, official or administrator demonstrating extraordinary courage reflecting honor on amateur basketball. Past recipients include Steve Kerr of the University of Arizona, Landon Turner of Indiana University, former North Carolina State coach Jim Valvano, former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson, the 2001 Oklahoma State Cowboys, Andrew Smith of Butler University and his wife Samantha.

The 2020 winner, Sam Toney of New Jersey City University, will also be honored this year.

The USBWA has recognized players, officials, coaches and administrators in women's basketball with the Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award, which was first presented to the Hall-of-Fame coach from the University of Tennessee in 2012.

"I can't think of a more worthy person to grace this award with his name than Perry Wallace," said USBWA President Seth Davis, college basketball reporter for CBS Sports and Managing Editor of The Athletic College Basketball. "Perry exemplified courage, not to mention character, integrity, perseverance and talent. He epitomizes everything we value about college basketball."

Funding provided by Vanderbilt University will help cover the travel and lodging expenses of future honorees and their guests at the Final Four.

"We are thrilled that the USBWA has renamed its Most Courageous Award to honor the late Perry Wallace, a brilliant man and pioneer who stands as one of the most courageous figures in the history of college basketball," said Candice Storey Lee, the university's Vice Chancellor for Athletics and University Affairs and Athletic Director. "Following his days at Vanderbilt, Perry enjoyed a long career as a professor, and I am certain he would be proud to see his name associated with an award that recognizes the most courageous amongst a new generation of college students. This award will ensure that Perry's story is told long into the future, and that means a tremendous amount to all of us who knew him and respected him so much."

During Wallace's time at Vanderbilt at the height of the civil rights movement, he displayed tremendous courage in the face of vicious threats around the South and social isolation on campus, and equal courage in speaking up against racism and injustice throughout his life.

Wallace, born on this day in 1948, graduated from Vanderbilt in 1970 with a double major in Engineering, earned a law degree from Columbia University, and practiced law as an attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice. Wallace later became the first Black tenured law professor at the University of Baltimore and led the JD/MBA joint degree program as a law professor at American University's Washington College of Law.

Fluent in French and an accomplished musician, singer, actor and martial arts practitioner, Wallace was honored with the NCAA's Silver Anniversary Award in 1995 and is the subject of the bestselling biography STRONG INSIDE by Andrew Maraniss. Wallace passed away in 2017 at the age of 69, and is survived by his wife, Karen, and daughter, Gabrielle.

The U.S. Basketball Writers Association, in its 65th season, serves as an advocate for professional and college journalists covering men's and women's basketball and recognizes extraordinary achievement on and off the court. For more information about the USBWA and its award programs, contact executive director Malcolm Moran at 814-574-1485.

Related links:
All-time Most Courageous Award recipients
• Perry Wallace Most Courageous Award logo: .jpg | .eps | Specs (.pdf)