NASHVILLE - Legendary Middle Tennessee track coach Dean Hayes headlined a group of Blue Raiders honored on Thursday night at the 16th Annual Pepsi Celebration of Champions. The event was held at the Grand Ole Opry and was for accomplishments during the 2013 calendar year.
Hayes was the 2014 recipient of the Fred Russell Lifetime Achievement Award which is presented to a Middle Tennessee area individual for their superior lifetime achievement in the world of sports.
Hayes is in his 49th season at the helm of the Blue Raider program and has helped Middle Tennessee earn 29 Ohio Valley Conference titles, 18 Sun Belt Championships and 18 NCAA Top 25 finishes. In addition to his team accolades, Hayes has coached four national champions, which include Barry McClure (triple jump, 1972 and 1973), Tommy Haynes (triple jump, 1974), Dionne Rose (high hurdles, 1994) and Mardy Scales (100-meter dash, 2003).
A continued contributing member to the sport of track & field and cross country, he earned the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Associations Jimmy Carnes Distinguished Service Award in December, 2013.
In addition to Hayes' recognition, MTSU head men's basketball coach Kermit Davis was a finalist for the Sports Person of the Year; Kevin Byard was a finalist for the Ed Temple Male Amateur Athlete, and Ebony Rowe won the Ed Temple Female Amateur Athlete award for the second straight year.
As a department, the Blue Raiders had the No. 5 moment on the Top 10 list for being one of just 12 programs to play in a bowl game and participate in both the men's and women's NCAA basketball tournament.
Davis helped the Blue Raider men's basketball team to their first NCAA appearance in 14 years and picked up back-to-back Sun Belt Coach of the year honors. His 2012-13 team finished with a program-best 28-6 overall record while going 19-1 in conference play.
Byard finished his sophomore season as the all-time Middle Tennessee leader in interception return yards (326) and interception return touchdowns (4). He started all 13 games and totaled a career-best 106 tackles and his five interceptions led the Blue Raiders and ranked 28th nationally.
As a junior, Rowe was named Honorable Mention All-America by the Associated Press and the WBCA and a First Team Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar honoree. She averaged a double-double for 2012-13, totaling 19.7 points per contest and corralling 11.2 rebounds en route to earning All-Sun Belt First Team honors.