On Monday, Fort Hays State University's Jeff Burnett received the 2018 MIAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Mentor of the Year Award at the MIAA Awards Celebration in Kansas City. Burnett, now in his 16th year at FHSU, is an advisor and faculty member in the Department of Health and Human Performance and a minister/director for Encounter, a spiritual group for college students.
The MIAA SAAC Mentor of the Year Award is in its ninth year as it started during the 2009-10 school year. This award aims to recognize an individual who has had an immense impact on student-athletes within their campus throughout their career. Each SAAC institute nominates someone on their campus each year, and a selection committee decides which individual has had the greatest impact during that year.
The FHSU SAAC nominated Burnett based on his support throughout their lives on and off the court. According to his students, motivation is a common word used to describe the impact of Burnett. Whether he is teaching, ministering, or just visiting with a student or team, his focus is to help them find motivation to get to where they want to be. Burnett, while he serves as a mentor to a majority of student-athletes on campus, also holds the role of team chaplain for the football team. In addition to his on-campus impact, Burnett sponsors a mission trip each year to Haiti to promote community service.
According to his nomination letter, a freshman athlete quotes Burnett as someone who "cares about my future. He has a very enlightening personality, he's a great person to talk to and he's a great all around person and I know that he has benefited other students in similar ways."