Two Christian ministries have teamed up to encourage around 700 NCAA men's basketball coaches this week to lead their teams from a biblical perspective and then provide them with free audio Bibles.
"The Bible teaches the values of respect, teamwork and commitment," says Troy Carl, national director of Faith Comes By Hearing, which has teamed up with Nation of Coaches for this week's outreach.
"It's in the best interest of every coach to know and apply the truths of the Bible to their daily life and coaching methodologies," he adds.
This week, Detroit is hosting the NCAA Final Four event, which is expected to draw up to 80,000 basketball fans from around the country. Among them will also be players and coaches whose teams did not advance to the national semifinals of the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball tournament.
For their outreach, Faith Comes By Hearing and Nation of Coaches will be providing coaches with free Audio Drama New Testaments – audio recordings of scripture from the popular NIV Bible.
"[W]e want to invest in the next generation of leaders on and off the field," says Carl.
"Coaches are given a unique opportunity to mold young men and women at crucial times in their lives," he adds. "Often the impact of an athletic coach will be greater than any other adult."
In college basketball alone, there are more than 2,000 teams and nearly 32,000 athletes. Furthermore, 83 percent of 18- to 19-year-old college students own mobile media players and listen up to two hours a day, according to a study by the EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research.
Last year, nearly two dozen NCAA football teams received Audio Bibles as part of the "You've Got The Time" student athletes program from 2008.
Roger Holien, a Faith Comes By Hearing representative and a 10-year sports chaplain, confirmed that Audio Bibles are a perfect fit for today's busy athlete, saying that they listen nearly everywhere they go, "between classes, while traveling, in their dorms and in the hotel rooms."
"By using Audio Bibles, we're meeting the athletes were they're at," Holien reported.
Faith Comes By Hearing hopes to carry the success over from NCAA football to NCAA basketball and were excited in partnering with Nation of Coaches for the outreach.
"Nations of Coaches is helping make this possible at the Final Four in Detroit," Carl reported.
On Saturday, basketball fans across the nation will watch Connecticut face off against Michigan and North Carolina against Villanova to advance to Monday's championship. North Carolina was the champion in 2005 and Connecticut the champion in 2004. The last and only time Michigan and Villanova won the title was in 1989 and 1985, respectively.