­ATLANTA-Georgia State men’s basketball coach Ron Hunter will receive the Community Spirit Award at the Atlanta Sports Awards on March 5. The annual awards dinner hosted by the Atlanta Sports Council recognizes the best professional and collegiate athletes and coaches in the state of Georgia.

The Community Spirit Award is given to “an individual who has made a positive impact on the sports world and within his or her community throughout their respective career.”

Hunter will accept the honor at the annual awards gala on Tuesday, March 5, 2013, beginning at 5:30 p.m.in the historic Fox Theatre’s Egyptian Ballroom.

“Coach Ron Hunter continues to touch so many lives in positive ways while developing and shaping the lives of his student-athletes at Georgia State University,” said Dan Corso, Atlanta Sports Council executive director. “He is a true leader, and we are very proud to present him with this new award.”

The Community Spirit Award, formerly known as the Sports Person of the Year, is given to an individual who has made a positive impact on the sports world and within his or her community throughout their respective career.

Hunter is known throughout the coaching world for his work with Samaritan’s Feet, an organization that distributes shoes to underprivileged children around the world, dedicating his time and energy to help provide shoes for 10 million children in 10 years. He has coached one game in his bare feet each season since 2008 to raise awareness for Samaritan’s Feet.

In five years since coaching his first barefoot game on Jan. 24, 2008 while the head coach at IUPUI, Hunter’s efforts have helped Samaritan’s Feet distribute more than two million pairs of shows. He hosted his first Samaritan’s Feet game at Georgia State on Jan. 12, 2012 before a season-high crowd of 2,698.

In conjunction with the 2012 Samaritan’s Feet game, Hunter and GSU student-athletes observed the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on Jan. 16, 2012 by conducting an outreach program at the Blank Family YMCA, and more than 200 local children in need received new shoes and socks.

Hunter took his team to South Africa this past August to distribute shoes and good will to impoverished children during the squads’ 10-day trip. He has previously made trips to Africa and South America with the organization.

“I am honored to receive such a prestigious award from the Atlanta Sports Council,” commented Ron Hunter. “I have always felt that it is important in our field to try to have an impact on the lives of others who are less fortunate than us. I would like to thank the Georgia State community, fans and alums for helping to support the causes that are near and dear to my heart.”

In his first year at the helm of the Panthers, Hunter led Georgia State to a 22-12 record, the second most wins in school history and a berth in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament, just the school’s fourth postseason bid.

He was named the 2012 Georgia Division I Coach of the Year by the Atlanta Tipoff Club/Naismith Awards program following the season and followed it by signing the most highly-regarded signing class in GSU history in the offseason.

Hunter put an exclamation point on 2012 by earning his 300th career victory in Georgia State’s win over Liberty on Dec. 2nd.

He will close out the 2012-13 season at this year’s NCAA Final Four in Atlanta, hosting a gala in support of Samaritan’s Feet on Friday, April 5 with his wife Amy.

The Atlanta Sports Council created the Atlanta Sports Awards to honor the most accomplished athletes, coaches and teams from all levels of competition. This event allows the community of Atlanta to honor outstanding athletic feats on a yearly basis.

Award categories include:

• Coach of the Year presented by The Home Depot

• Community Spirit Award presented by Georgia Power, A Southern Company

• Collegiate Athlete of the Year presented by AT&T

• High School Scholar Athletes of the Year presented by Georgia Best Chevy Dealers

• High School Athlete of the Year

• Lifetime Achievement Award presented by Coca-Cola

• Professional Athlete of the Year presented by SunTrust Sports and Entertainment

• Team of the Year presented by PrimeSport

ABOUT THE ATLANTA SPORTS AWARDS

Created in 2006 by the Atlanta Sports Council, the Atlanta Sports Awards has become a way to rally the Atlanta sports community to recognize athletic excellence on a yearly basis. The Atlanta Sports Awards honors those who distinguish themselves from among the five million people living in Atlanta. That includes all professional sports teams, universities, junior colleges and more than 250 public and private high schools in Atlanta. For more information, visit www.AtlantaSportsAwards.com.

ABOUT THE ATLANTA SPORTS COUNCIL

The Atlanta Sports Council promotes the value of sports growth in Atlanta and Georgia by acting as an authority on the economic impact, visibility and quality of life issues associated with sports. Its mission is to lead, organize and support sports development. The Atlanta Sports Council was created in 1985 under the original name of Sports 2000, and is a division of the

Metro Atlanta Chamber. For more information, visit www.AtlantaSportsCouncil.com.

www.GeorgiaStateSports.com