BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Ole Miss football player Rodney Scott and University of South Carolina softball player Sam Arbaugh have been named recipients of the 3rd annual SEC Sportsmanship Award, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive announced Tuesday. The winners will be forwarded for nomination to the NCAA for its national sportsmanship awards, to be announced in July.
The two were chosen by a vote of the SEC Directors of Athletics.
“Sportsmanship is one of the great lessons learned participating in sports,” said Slive. “Rodney and Sam have shown exemplary sportsmanship and I congratulate them on this outstanding honor.”
During the first quarter of the Auburn-Ole Miss football game on Oct. 31 in Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn safety Zac Etheridge helped make a tackle on Scott, a freshman tailback for the Rebels. When the collision occurred, Scott made a split-second decision to stay still underneath Etheridge, who had become unconscious.
Rather than forcing himself off the ground, which is generally a player’s first instinct, Scott did not move for almost 10 minutes while medical personnel attended to the injured Tiger defensive back. Scott sensed, almost immediately, that Etheridge was seriously injured, and chose to stay motionless while not to risk any further injury to the Auburn defensive back.
“It was one of the most amazing things I’ve seen,” said Auburn head coach Gene Chizik. “I’ve got to give that young man (Scott) a lot of credit. I don’t know how he knew he couldn’t move. It was one of the most phenomenal things I’ve witnessed.”
Etheridge was secured to a stretcher and carted off the field where he was taken to the hospital, where X-rays showed no structural damage to his spine, although he did tear ligaments attached to his spine and cracked his C-5 vertebra. He was in an invasive neck brace for three months.
The two players communicated with each other the week following the incident and still communicate several times a month.
Arbaugh, a sophomore infielder from Aiken, S.C., corresponded with members of the Dickinson State University softball team after three of its teammates died in a tragic automobile accident on November 1, 2009 in Dickinson, N.D.
She sent a card to the Dickinson State team expressing her sympathies. The card explained that she and her teammates were very sorry for their losses and they would keep the team and the families of the victims in their thoughts and prayers. She also explained that she would never know exactly how they felt but that they could only imagine how it would feel to lose people that were so important in her life.
Arbaugh is known for her work ethic on the Gamecock squad and for treating others with courtesy and respect.
Last year, the University of Alabama women’s tennis team and University of Arkansas track & field athlete Dorian Ulrey were recipients of the SEC Sportsmanship Award. In 2008, Florida golfer Jessica Yadloczky and Tennessee basketball player Chris Lofton were recipients of the honor.
Ole Miss Media Relations