Bradley's Joe Dalfonso to Receive John Sanders 'Spirit of the Valley' Award

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. - The Missouri Valley Conference announced today that former Bradley University sports information director Joe Dalfonso has been selected as the 2014-15 recipient of the John Sanders ‘Spirit of The Valley’ Award.

The Missouri Valley Conference presents the ‘Spirit of The Valley’ Award to honor a student-athlete, coach or university administrator who exemplifies the spirit of the late John Sanders, former MVC assistant commissioner for operations. Criteria includes, but is not limited to, passion for the Conference, strong work ethic and sense of humor.

The presentation of the award will take place during the 2015 MVC Coach of the Year Luncheon at the St. Louis Union Station Hotel in downtown St. Louis, Missouri, on Thursday, March 5.

“Each and every Missouri Valley Conference award has its place,” said MVC Commissioner Doug Elgin, who is in his 27th year with The Valley. “The John Sanders ‘Spirit of The Valley’ Award holds a special meaning for not only our staff but for the league as a whole. 

“Joe Dalfonso dedicated most of his professional life to Bradley University Athletics,” Elgin said. “And throughout his career on the Hilltop, he demonstrated unmatched passion for his student-athletes and for his institution. 

“Joe has also been a great ambassador for the Missouri Valley Conference throughout our 25-year men’s basketball tournament run and other NCAA basketball events in our city,” Elgin added. “It is a fitting tribute to his legacy that we are recognizing him at our Silver Anniversary event in St. Louis.”

The league began presenting the award in 2005, when former Indiana State director of athletics Andi Myers became the first recipient. 

Since then, former Missouri State director of athletics Bill Rowe (2006), MVC television personality Mitch Holthus (2007), Southern Illinois radio play-by-play voice Mike Reis (2008), former MVC coordinator of men’s basketball officials Johnny Overby (2009), former Missouri State women’s athletics administrator Mary Jo Wynn (2010), former Drake radio broadcaster Dolph Pulliam (2011), Evansville equipment manager Daryl Buente (2012), Bradley radio play-by-play voice Dave Snell (2013) and Creighton director of athletics Bruce Rasmussen (2014) have been honored.

A native of Mamaroneck, New York, Dalfonso ventured to the Midwest as an undergraduate student at Bradley University in the early 1970s. As a student in the university’s promotional department, he served as an assistant in the sports information office during his senior year in 1975-76 and then was given the full-time position of sports information director upon his graduation in 1976. 

Dalfonso oversaw the publicity efforts for all of Bradley’s intercollegiate athletic teams for more than 23 years into the 1998-99 school year. 

During his time on The Hilltop, Dalfonso successfully promoted two college men’s basketball national players of the year -- Jim Les in 1986 as the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award recipient as best player under 6-feet tall and Hersey Hawkins in 1988 as the consensus national player of the year -- and all five of the school’s MVC Men’s Basketball Larry Bird Players of the Year.

Dalfonso’s duties extended far beyond traditional sports information work for only the men’s basketball team, however. In fact, he filled in as the Bradley softball head coach for the final 28 games of the 1992 season while continuing to direct the publicity efforts for an ever-growing department of athletics.

In addition to his work on behalf of hundreds upon hundreds of Bradley student-athletes during a near quarter-century on The Hilltop, Dalfonso served as a mentor to countless students and young professionals in the sports information field. 

Among his Bradley student assistants are Laura Herlovich and Steve Weller. Herlovich is the founder and president of PR Plus, a public relations firm based in Las Vegas with a client list that has included Jay Z, Prince, Bon Jovi, Hard Rock Hotel 6 Casino, Palms Casino 6 Resort, NBA and The Grammy Awards. Weller is Director of Athletics at Parker University in Dallas, where he also serves as the official scorer for the Texas Rangers Major League Baseball team.

Having walked a similar path during his early days in the profession, Dalfonso always was willing to answer the phone and help colleagues through a wide range of situations during their own career development.

Although his professional career took him away from the Bradley campus, Dalfonso has remained close to Bradley Athletics and the Missouri Valley Conference. 

He served as the television analyst for Bradley men’s basketball telecasts on WEEK-TV for several years and rarely misses a Bradley basketball game at Carver Arena. 

And Dalfonso has served as the press conference moderator for the MVC men’s basketball tournament since its move to St. Louis in 1991. In fact, he has attended all 25 Arch Madness events -- either as a Bradley employee or a Missouri Valley Conference volunteer.

He has also assisted The Valley’s efforts in a similar capacity during numerous NCAA men’s and women’s basketball postseason events hosted by the Conference. 

Dalfonso and his wife Dawn -- also a volunteer for the MVC men’s basketball tournament -- have three sons -- Joseph, David and Dominick.