[dropcap]M[/dropcap]en’s tennis coach Bill Richards says he’s humbled and flattered to receive the NCAA’s Bob Frederick Sportsmanship Award for the 2014-15 season.
“I am sure there were many others who were deserving of it,” he said. “To me, sportsmanship is the core value of intercollegiate athletics.”
The Frederick Award honors an NCAA member institution, coach or administrator for a lifelong commitment to sportsmanship and ethical conduct.
“Coach Richards is very deserving of this prestigious award,” said Mark Sandy, Ball State director of intercollegiate athletics. “His enthusiasm for the sport, sincere interest in his players and his legacy of championships speak for themselves.”
Richards, in his 44th season as head coach of men’s tennis at Ball State, spoke about the award, his philosophy of sportsmanship, his best memories of coaching here as well as his future plans:
How do you define “sportsmanship”?
To be honest, it’s not something I think about a lot because it’s more of a way of life to me. As a coach, I can be pretty fiery in terms of fighting for my team and players, but there are certainly lines I don’t cross. I always try to stay in control, be poised and above all, play fair. I expect the same thing from my players.
When you arrived, did you ever think you’d stay this long?
No, I didn’t. Over the years, I’ve had opportunities to go to bigger schools or move to another area of the country. But Ball State has always been supportive of my efforts here, and I’ve never really wanted to look elsewhere.
Looking back, what are your best memories, and do any individual players stand out?
I never look back and recall individual players because I’ve had so many good ones and I wouldn’t want to leave someone out. But one of my best memories is that soon after Ball State joined the Mid-American Conference in 1973, we were quickly able to get the tennis program in a competitive position and compete with the traditional conference tennis powers like Miami of Ohio.
How long would you like to continue coaching at Ball State?
In my own mind, I have an idea on that, but it’s not something I’m ready to discuss yet. I can just say that I’ll know when it’s time to move on.
THE RICHARDS FILE A native of Sturgis, Michigan, Bill Richards earned a bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University in 1970 and a master’s degree in health and physical education from Bowling Green State University in 1971. At Western Michigan, he was a three-year letter winner in tennis and a Mid-American Conference (MAC) champion in both singles and doubles. After serving as a graduate assistant at Bowling Green, Richards was the head tennis coach at Michigan’s Portage Central High School for one year before coming to Ball State. He and his wife, Sue, have two children and two grandchildren.
Career highlights include:
- Winningest men’s tennis coach in school and MAC history
- 38 MAC regular season and/or tournament team championships
- 15-time MAC coach of the year
- 8 NCAA appearances
- 658-392 (.626) overall record
- 214-51(.807) MAC record
- Coached 17 undefeated regular seasons
- Inducted to Ball State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1993
- Received the Benny Award in 2006, the top honor for service to Ball State
- First coach in school history to receive the President’s Medal of Distinction (2012), given for significant and unselfish contributions to advancing the university, community, state or nation.