TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ Dallas Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe and Olympic swimmer Megan Quann Jendrick were the headliners of Monday evening's Henry P. Iba Citizen Athlete Awards, but it was volunteers and a former basketball coach who drew the praise of organizers.
``We would not be what we are without the leadership of Coach Eddie Sutton,'' said Bob McKenzie, chairman of the Iba awards.
Sutton, who resigned as Oklahoma State University's men's basketball coach last month, serves as chairman of the award's advisory board. He has been involved with the award since its inception 13 years ago.
The awards, presented annually since 1994, recognize not only individual character, but also provide a tribute to the man for whom they are named, according to Sutton.
Sutton played for Iba, the legendary coach for Oklahoma A&M, which later became Oklahoma State.
The awards, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Tulsa, honor exceptional performance by athletes, both in their sport and in their service to others. Bledsoe and Jendrick were each presented a bronze trophy and $10,000 payable to the charity of their choice.
Bledsoe, a 13-year veteran readying for his second season in Dallas, said the award demonstrated how success in a sport can be translated into a greater role for a community.
``If you can make a difference outside of entertaining people on Sunday (that) is far more important,'' Bledsoe said.
Jendrick won gold medals in the 100-meter breaststroke and 400-meter medley relay at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.