KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCS) has announced Monday (April 6) that Virginia Dean and Markel Families Men’s Head Basketball Coach Tony Bennett will be honored with the 2020 John Lotz “Barnabas” Award.
The John Lotz “Barnabas” Award is presented annually to honor a basketball coach who best exhibits a commitment to Christ, integrity and encouragement to others, and lives a balanced life. Bennett is the 18th recipient of the award, named for former North Carolina assistant and Florida head coach John Lotz.
The award presentation was set to occur this past weekend at the National Association of Basketball Coaches Convention in Atlanta, but the event, along with the NCAA tournament, was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, local FCA will honor Bennett at a later time.
“Throughout his coaching career, Tony Bennett has exemplified humble servant leadership both on and off the court, and all of us at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes are honored to recognize him,” said Shane Williamson, FCA President and CEO. “During this uniquely challenging basketball season, this outstanding leader has guided his players in matters much more eternal than the game of basketball. Tony has led himself, his family and his teams through the most difficult of defeats and the pinnacle of a national championship with amazing grace and consistency that can only come from the Holy Spirit leading his life.”
Bennett’s nominator shared that the coach “puts God first and maintains a Christ-like culture,” while pointing to Bennett’s often-referenced “Five Pillars: Why They Work and What We Can Learn:” Humility, Passion, Unity, Servanthood and Thankfulness. According to a profile by Jim Daly of Focus on the Family, Bennett’s faith has served as the foundation for the Wisconsin native’s life since high school, when he was first introduced to Jesus at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes Camp in Colorado.
Virginia has amassed a 277-96 (.743) record in 11 seasons under Bennett’s direction. In 2019-20, Bennett guided the Cavaliers to a 23-7 overall record and 15-5 mark in the Atlantic Coast Conference. UVA earned the No. 2 seed for the ACC Tournament before its cancellation. Bennett was named the U.S. Basketball Writers Association District 3 Coach of the Year as Virginia led the nation in scoring defense for the sixth time.
The Cavaliers won their first NCAA national championship in 2019 after posting a school-record 35 wins and earning a share of their ninth ACC regular-season title. Bennett earned ACC Coach of the Year honors for the fourth time as UVA earned its fourth No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament in its school-record sixth straight NCAA Tournament appearance. Bennett also recorded his 300th career win vs. Marshall as the Cavaliers amassed their most points (100) during his tenure. UVA has won 29 or more games in five of the past seven seasons and 23 or more games in a school-best eight straight seasons under Bennett’s direction.
Since its launch by FCA in 2003, the John Lotz “Barnabas” Award has honored the following:
- 2003: Homer Drew, Valparaiso
- 2004: John Wooden, UCLA
- 2005: Dale Clayton, Carson-Newman
- 2006: Steve Alford, Iowa
- 2007: Dale Layer, Colorado State
- 2008: Willis Wilson, Rice
- 2009: Ritchie McKay, Virginia
- 2010: Gary Waters, Cleveland State
- 2011: Billy Kennedy, Texas A&M
- 2012: Don Meyer, Northern State
- 2013: Tom Crean, Indiana
- 2014: Bob Hoffman, Mercer
- 2015: Jayson Gee, Longwood University
- 2016: Ed Schilling, UCLA
- 2017: Gregg Nibert, Presbyterian College
- 2018: Hubert Davis, North Carolina
- 2019: Scott Drew, Baylor
- 2020: Tony Bennett, Virginia