TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State Head Men’s Basketball Coach Leonard Hamilton, and former women’s basketball standout Morgan M. Jones have been honored by the Atlantic Coast Conference as recipients of the 2022 ACC UNITE Award. The award was created in 2021 to celebrate individuals affiliated with the league who have made an impact in the areas of racial and social justice. The UNITE Award is an initiative of the ACC’s Committee for Racial and Social Justice (CORE – Champions of Racial Equity).
Hamilton is the Seminoles’ all-time winningest coach with 395 wins and is the fifth all-time winningest coach in ACC history with 177 wins in conference play. Jones, who graduated from Florida State in 2015, finished her career ranked 12th in school history for career 3-point field goals made (99) and 16th in FSU history with a .318 3-point field goal percentage.
“We are proud to honor the ACC UNITE Award winners who have made significant contributions in the areas of racial and social justice,” said ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips, Ph.D. “These 30 individuals are true pioneers who inspire us with their contributions to a more diverse and equal society. As a conference we will remain steadfast in our pursuit of racial and social justice, while assisting our student-athletes and institutions with programs that can affect change.”
The UNITE Award is presented annually to individuals who best exemplify ACC CORE’s mission to promote and encourage racial equity and social justice through education, partnerships, engagement and advocacy; have helped create meaningful, lasting change by improving systems, organizational structures, policies, practices and attitudes and who have been a pioneer and/or helped pave the way for minorities either at the institution or in the community.
Leonard Hamilton has been a pioneer of social justice, advocacy, and engagement within the local and national community for decades. His achievements span a lifetime, his ability to empower and develop young men, and his stature as a public leader who fights for equity in every facet of his work is unmatched. His dedication to integration is remarkable. Hamilton was the first black basketball player at both Gaston Community College and Austin Peay before becoming the first black assistant coach in Kentucky basketball history in 1974. Hamilton had his team participate in the “No Room for Racism” Classic, which was played in 2021. “There needs to be a clear understanding of the history of these types of issues,” said Hamilton. Hamilton is the winningest coach in Florida State history and has earned national coach of the year honors on five different occasions. He was named ACC Coach of the Year in 2009, 2012 and 2020.
Morgan M. Jones has dedicated her life to empowering others, specifically athletes in marginalized, rural, and urban communities. A known speaker and national leader, she helps athletes discover their path, voice and purpose in life through products, programs and impact mentorship. As a former high school All-American, Division I and professional athlete, Jones transitioned out of sports into sales. This challenged her in many ways to discover the deeper purpose in her playing career and how to transfer the skills into an authentic passion and purpose. To date, Morgan has impacted more than 5,000 student-athletes to design and define who they are becoming. Jones has been featured in Essence Magazine, on ABC and CBS for her sold out events & consulted with major brands who look to develop initiatives around building their female athlete programming off the court.
2022 UNITE Award Recipients
Boston College: M. Quentin Williams & Dr. Constance Smith Hendricks
Clemson: Wayne Jenkins & Barbara Kennedy-Dixon (posthumously)
Duke: Michael Howard & Gracie Johnson
Florida State: Leonard Hamilton & Morgan M. Jones
Georgia Tech: Lucius Sanford & Lynn Houston-Moore
Louisville: Jim Freeman & Valerie (Owens) Combs
Miami: Corey Jones & Lauryn Harris
North Carolina: Charles Scott & Kathy Crawford
NC State: Dr. Marcus Martin & Charece Williams Gee
Notre Dame: Cason Wilburn & Niele Ivey
Pitt: Dr. Bettina Love & Herb Douglas
Syracuse: Dedrick Etan Thomas & Emily Nugent
Virginia: Marques Hagans & Hailey Barnett
Virginia Tech: André Davis & Reyna Gilbert-Lowry
Wake Forest: Jim Caldwell & Charlene Curtis (posthumously)