The Coach of Character Award is an annual award given to a head coach of an NAIA institution. The nominee must be employed by the institution for a minimum of five years and must be clearly outstanding in embracing the five core values of the NAIA Champions of Character initiative, methods of teaching character through sport, and community leadership through volunteering, service or other means.
Rooney, who heads into his 10th year at the helm of the Keelhaulers, led CMA to conference regular season and conference tournament championships during the 2015-2016 season. The Keelhaulers advanced to the NAIA National Tournament for the fifth consecutive year and reached the Sweet 16 with an upset win over No. 2 ranked Union College. Coach Rooney was also named the conference's Coach of the Year for the fifth time. His teams have won six conference championships and he is the school's leader in wins as his teams have averaged 20 wins per season during his tenure.
In addition to the success on the court, Rooney has led his team with a number of outreach events including free basketball clinics and organizing Cal Maritime's Coaches vs. Cancer event. Coach Rooney also serves as the school's Champions of Character liaison and is active in promoting the five core values. In addition, the men's basketball team earned over a 3.0 grade point average in the classroom.
"The quality of coaching in our conference is outstanding but more importantly the quality of people who serve as coaches is even better," said Rooney. "With this in mind, I am humbled to represent our conference. There is no doubt that this award is a direct reflection of the people with whom I work with everyday. Our players and our assistant coaches are very special people and I am honored to share this award with them."