Brentwood, TN – Lt. Colonel Greg Lane of Austin Peay State University (APSU) and Dr. Leveda Birdwell of Tennessee Tech University have been named the recipients of the 2021 Ohio Valley Conference Thurston Banks Award for Distinguished Academic Service.
The award, selected by the OVC Faculty Athletics Representatives (FARs), was established in 2013 to recognize individuals (e.g. academic advisor, professor, tutor, etc.), with at least five years of service at one or more OVC member institutions, for their outstanding contributions to OVC student-athletes’ academic success, learning and development as well for his or her overall commitment to the institution’s athletics program.
The award is named after Dr. Thurston Banks, who served the Tennessee Tech Department of Athletics for 31 of his 34 years on the faculty and served as the Faculty Athletic Representative (FAR) for 25 years before stepping down in 2006. He was inducted into the OVC Hall of Fame in 2007.
Lane is a retired Lt. Colonels in the U.S. Army Reserve and serves as APSU’s Army ROTC Cadet Success Coordinator. In his role, he teaches military history to Army ROTC cadets, coordinates ROTC requirements and needs with the University, and provides mentorship to the cadets in the program. He has served APSU since 1991, first as an active-duty Army officer, followed by Army Reserve officer and Army contractor instructor until assuming his current role.
Lane also taught in Austin Peay State University’s President’s Emerging Leaders Program from 2006-12 and 2018 to the present
In supporting APSU athletics, Lane has had several student-athletes as Army ROTC cadets, providing support, mentorship, and encouragement to them as well as attending some of their events. He has also coordinated Army ROTC support for the athletic department through the year, including color guard presentation and cadets taking their contracting oaths at halftime.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in History from The Citadel in 1981. He was then commissioned as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army. In his Army career, Lane had 12 years of active duty service and 12 years of Army Reserve service as an infantry officer. He served at Fort Benning, Fort Campbell, Fort Polk, Korea, and Austin Peay State University ROTC. As a reservist, he served at APSU ROTC, Carlisle Barracks, and the 100th Training Division.
Lane is the fourth Austin Peay State University recipient of the Thurston Banks Award, joining Dr. Bruce Myers (2013), Dr. Gaines Hunt (2015), and Lawrence Baggett (2017).
Tennessee Tech’s Birdwell has been an integral part of the Tennessee Tech Department of Athletics since 2008 and currently serves as the Assistant Athletics Director for Academics and Student-Athlete Welfare.