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Ridder to Receive NABC Guardians of the Game Award for Leadership

Ridder to Receive NABC Guardians of the Game Award for Leadership

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Having built a 30-year legacy of leadership at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Steve Ridder will receive the 2019 Guardians of the Game Pillar Award for Leadership from the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC).


Ridder will receive the award on Sunday, April 7, at the AT&T NABC Guardians of the Game Awards Show at the Main Auditorium of the Minneapolis Convention Center.  The show, which begins at 6:30 p.m. CT, is held during the annual NABC Convention in conjunction with the NCAA Division I Men’s Final Four. The Guardians of the Game Pillar Awards are presented annually for advocacy, education, leadership and service, the four core values of the NABC. 


The show will be broadcast live on Stadium (


Following a collegiate playing career and eight-year stint as an assistant coach at Berea College in his home state of Kentucky, Ridder arrived in Daytona Beach in 1989 to take over and Eagles’ basketball program that was winless in 1988-89, its first season of competition.  After winning just four games in his first season, Ridder guided Embry-Riddle to a NAIA record turnaround with a 22-8 won-lost record.


He continued to build the program at ERAU as his teams won 30 or more games five times in a stretch of 20-win seasons over two decades. During that time, the Eagles captured their first NAIA national title in 1990-91 with a 75-63 win over College of the Ozarks and made 15 national tournament appearances. Ridder, closing in on his 700th career win, has been honored as coach of the year eight times, including national coach of the year honors from the NAIA in 2000 and has also been elected into four halls of fame.


His impact on the ERAU community and the surrounding area has been significant, especially during his 20-year tenure as director of athletics. Ridder facilitated the growth of the overall athletics program, which captured 14 consecutive top 25 finishes nationally in the NACDA/Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup and 14 straight in the Sun Conference Commissioner’s Cup, awarded to the best overall athletic program in the league.  He was honored in 2006 as the NAIA Athletics Director of the Year.


Ridder’s contributions reached beyond the playing fields as he was instrumental in the development of the Embry-Riddle Athletic philosophy of “Student, Person, Player,” which is a commitment to academic achievement, campus and community involvement, personal holistic growth and a drive to excel in sport. Beginning in 2000, the Eagles’ athletic program consistently posted a higher grade-point average than the rest of the Embry-Riddle student body while during Ridder’s tenure, 59 ERAU student-athletes earned CoSIDA Academic All-America honors and 263 student-athletes garnered NAIA Scholar-Athlete honors.