Among the elite: Rowan recognized by ESPN as a Special Olympics Unified Champion School

Among the elite: Rowan recognized by ESPN as a Special Olympics Unified Champion School

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"Live. Play. Unified.": Since 2012, Special Olympics athletes and Rowan students have competed together through Rowan Unified Sports. Now, ESPN has recognized the University as a Unified Champion School. A celebration is being planned for Nov. 3.

Rowan University has been named a Special Olympics Unified Champion School, a distinction reserved for the most elite and successful Unified Sports programs in the nation.

ESPN’s Kevin Negandhi announced that Rowan has been recognized as a national banner school through the network’s Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools National Recognition Program.

The honor recognizes the accomplishments of Rowan Unified Sports, a Campus Recreation sport club in which Special Olympics athletes compete side by side Rowan students in soccer each fall and basketball each spring.

ESPN will be on hand for a banner unfurling ceremony and celebration on Saturday, Nov. 3, on the Glassboro campus. 

Founded in 2012, Rowan Unified Sports was the first program of its kind in New Jersey and the first official club among college club programs in the nation.

On average, more than 50 athletes and 75 Rowan students compete together each fall and spring in Rowan Unified Sports.

To be named a Unified Champion, schools must meet 10 national standards of inclusion outlined by the Special Olympics. Clubs must be active and robust, promote advocacy, awareness and inclusion, initiate campaigns and activities that support engagement school-wide, and demonstrate sustainability.

A model collegiate program, Rowan Unified Sports was the only school in New Jersey—and the only university in the nation—to be named among the Top 5 Unified Champion Schools for 2018. The other honorees this year are high schools in California, Michigan, North Carolina and Virginia.

Last spring, Rowan Unified Sports was honored by Leadership Rowan as Outstanding Student Organization. The club also was named Program of the Year for its "Fans in the Stands" program.