Longtime University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball supporters Dean and Mary Jane Heavener were named 2012 Distinguished Service Award winners by the Southern Conference today. Each member institution selects an honoree based on that person's contribution to the institution. Each award winner will be honored for their involvement at the Southern Conference Honors Dinner in Asheville, N.C. on May 30.
During basketball season, the Heaveners' calendar revolves around the Chattanooga women's basketball team. The couple never misses a home game at McKenzie Arena and has even travelled the country with the Lady Mocs.
In 2007, the Heavener's created The Dean and Mary Jane Heavener Women's Basketball Scholarship Endowment. The endowment provides scholarship opportunities for fifth year seniors to finish their education after exhausting their eligibility. It also funds summer school tuition for current Chattanooga women's basketball players.
The couple was one of the first contributors to the Support-Her Campaign, which is a five-year initiative seeking to raise $60,000 annually to fill gaps in the team's travel, equipment and operating costs.
"The Heaveners are two of our most loyal supporters," stated Director of Athletics Rick Hart. "Their involvement helps our student-athletes, and in particular the members of our women's basketball team, to pursue comprehensive excellence - academically, athletically and socially. They are very deserving of this honor and we thank them for all they do for Chattanooga Athletics."
The Distinguished Service Award program was started in 2002 as a way for the Southern Conference to recognize individuals from its member institutions who have contributed to all aspects of the university.
This year's honorees include David Allen Vaughn (Appalachian State), John M. Rivers, Jr. (College of Charleston), Thomas R. Culler (The Citadel), William D. Vinson (Davidson), Cecil and JoAnna Worsley (Elon), James M. and Carol N. Ney (Furman), Richard T. Evans (Georgia Southern), Jim and Betty Allen (UNCG), Dr. Larry W. Cox (Samford), Dean and Mary Jane Heavener (Chattanooga), Fred Q. Cantler (Western Carolina) and Dr. Mack C. Poole, III and Dr. Melvin D. Medlock (Wofford).