ST. LOUIS -- The Missouri Valley Conference announced today that University of Evansville equipment manager Daryl Buente (pronounced Ben-tee) has been selected as the 2011-12 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 tonight at halftime of the Indiana State at Evansville men’s basketball game at the Ford Center in downtown Evansville.
“Each and every Missouri Valley Conference award has its place,” said MVC Commissioner Doug Elgin, who is in his 24th 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.
“Daryl Buente is truly one of the good people in college athletics. Normally, he is the first person to greet a visiting coach or student-athlete to the UE campus, and his passion for the University of Evansville and the Missouri Valley Conference has few equals. We are grateful for the opportunity to recognize his contributions.”
The league began presenting the award in 2005, when former Indiana State director of athletics Andi Myers became the first recipient. Since then, 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) and Drake radio broadcaster Dolph Pulliam (2011) have been honored.
A native of Evansville, Indiana, Buente has been equipment manager at the University of Evansville since 1981 and is currently dean of the 53-person athletics department staff at UE. In fact, he served as a student manager at the University of Evansville to pay his own way through school and graduated in 1972.
Buente has never had a full-time assistant, even during his 16 years in which the University of Evansville had a football program. Depending solely on his student managers for assistance, he is a tireless worker who always has a smile on his face.
The editor of the Athletic Equipment Managers Association (AMEA) Journal since 2001, he has been on the AEMA Certification Steering Committee since 2001, was a speaker at the 2003 AEMA Convention and was a finalist in 2005 for the Glenn Sharp Award, given annually to the national Equipment Manager of the Year.
Outside UE Athletics, he is chairman of the pastoral care team and president of the Seekers Sunday School class at First Baptist Church in Evansville. He also serves as the UE Alumni Board as class agent for the University of Evansville class of 1972.
Buente and his wife, Retha, have two sons: Jeremy -- a 2008 UE graduate -- and Jeffrey who is a junior at the University of Evansville.