|School Name:||Gardner-Webb University|
|Location:||Boiling Springs, North Carolina|
|Arena:||Paul Porter Arena|
|Head coach:||Chris Holtmann|
Gardner-Webb University is a four-year private university 50 miles west of Charlotte in Boiling Springs, North Carolina and is affiliated with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. The school offers a total of 13 departments offering 45 major fields of study. Among the most popular of the school's 39 undergraduate majors are those in business, the social sciences, and education. The main campus is situated on nearly 200 acres, and there are an additional 17 satellite campuses located throughout North Carolina. Associates, Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral programs are offered.
Gardner-Webb's nickname is the "Runnin' Bulldogs." They are members of NCAA Division I and the Atlantic Sun Conference.
The Gardner-Webb community was rocked by scandal in the fall of 2002 when ordained minister and Gardner-Webb president of 16 years, Dr. Christopher White, admitted to writing a memo two years before ordering a star basketball player's grade-point average to be calculated without an "F" he received for cheating in a religion class -- thereby allowing the athlete to play. Without the change, Carlos Webb would have been ineligible in 2000-01, the season Gardner-Webb won the National Christian College Athletic Association championship. Under the University's Honor Code, a "cheating F" can never be removed from a student's transcript because it is a direct violation of that Honor Code. By removing the "F," president White destroyed the power of the honor code and the integrity of GWU.
The school's trustees affirmed Christopher White's presidency after a 10-hour meeting on September 27, 2002 though they demoted a pair of administrators, one the vice president of academic affairs and the other his assistant, who had criticized White's actions. Initially 3 faculty members also resigned as a result of the scandal. In the end, eight faculty members and administrators (later called "The Group of 8") suffered professional hardship due to demotion, resignation, or firing.
Opponents said White's action and the trustees' failure to punish him violates the spirit of Gardner-Webb's honor code. While the president's backers, including the chairman of the board of trustees, said they were convinced White did not violate the letter of any school rules and that he acted in a spirit of fairness toward Webb, who had been incorrectly advised he could get the "F" removed from his GPA by retaking the class. Trustees chairman Thomas Hardin said his board concluded that, while White's action was wrong, the president should not have been removed for a mistake made two years before. And he said the demoted administrators were punished not for speaking out, but because in doing so they violated a student's right to privacy.
For close to two weeks students picketed on the corner of College Avenue and Main Street with signs calling for the president's resignation and questioning true integrity. Students were seen with copies of the Honor Code in their black frames taken from classrooms and the glass front busted and black tape over the poster. The scandal tore the Gardner-Webb community apart.
In early October 2002, Dr. Christopher White resigned as Gardner-Webb University’s president and the grade remained on the student athlete’s transcript. Gardner-Webb was put on NCAA probation for a five year period that ended in early 2007.
After playing a non-league schedule that was rated the nation's 5th toughest by USA Today analyst Jeff Sagarin, Gardner-Webb toned its 2007-08 version down a bit – but not by much. In addition to a matchup with the nationally-ranked Kentucky Wildcats, GWU will play at UConn (Big East), at Clemson (ACC), at Tulane (C-USA) and at Charlotte (A-10). GWU tangled with Texas Tech, Akron, #2 North Carolina, #4 Wisconsin, Wake Forest and NC State last season.
Gardner-Webb does welcome four starters back from last year's 9-21 squad. Thomas Sanders (6-4, F), Matt French (6-7, F/C), Grayson Flittner (6-0, G) and Takayo Siddle (5-11, G) each have considerable experience on the college hardwood. Centers Auryn MacMillan (6-8) and Samba Fall (6-8) also have started in a Runnin' Bulldog uniform.
Gardner-Webb's 2007-2008 incoming class of recruits was ranked the Atlantic Sun Conference's best by Hoop Scoop, and several of those new faces will play important roles beginning with the 2K Sports College Hoops Challenge. Third-team NJCAA All-America guard Aaron Linn (Johnson County CC) is projected as an early starter after pouring in nearly 19 points per game in the famed Jayhawk Conference last season. Linn (6-3, 180, Jr.) was runner up for the Jayhawk's Freshman of the Year award two seasons ago. Another newcomer, bruising forward Lu Dovonou (Cowley County CC) is also expected to start on opening day for the 'Dogs. The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder is a native of Douala, Cameroon, but played his senior season alongside current Connecticut center Hasheem Thabeet at Cypress Community Christian School in Houston, Texas. Other newcomers expected to play considerable early minutes are freshman forward Nate Blank (Terre Haute, Ind.) and junior college wing Quincy Sarpy (Mesquite, Texas). Blank was rated the nation's No. 79 senior small forward prospect by ESPN.com last season, and Sarpy was a first-team All-League choice at Collin County Community College in the Dallas, Texas, suburbs.
Gardner-Webb's strong academic progress on the hardwood was helpful in the school's athletic department winning its first Atlantic Sun Conference Academic Trophy last season (2006-2007). The win by Gardner-Webb snapped a five-year hold on the award by Belmont (Tenn.) University. Gardner-Webb's athletic department was one of only two schools – along with Belmont – to finish in the top-three academically and athletically in 2006-2007.