Ottawa has struck gold.

The Ottawa University athletic department was named a 2016-17 NAIA Champions of Character Five-Star Institution, according to a news release. The department earned the Gold Award, the national office announced Sept. 7.

“I’m very proud of our coaches, teams and student-athletes who have been committed and worked hard to represent the Champions of Character program and its ideals at the highest level,” Arabie Conner, OU director of athletics, said. “It’s no accident that our teams have earned this recognition and this could not have been accomplished without intentional focus and leadership from many including the good work of Kathy Hinderliter, our KCAC Champions of Character representative who drives the leadership side of this for our department. The work our teams do in our community is exemplary, meaningful and truly makes a difference in the lives of many. The real win and value of this program is the intentional development of our student-athletes for lifetimes of commitment to consistently, high character values and that of serving others.”

NAIA institutions are measured on a demonstrated commitment to the NAIA’s Champions of Character. Schools earn points in character training, conduct in competition, academic focus, character recognition and character promotion. Each school also earns points based on exceptional student-athlete grade point averages, and by obtaining zero ejections during competition throughout the course of the academic year.

The Braves received Gold after earning Bronze recognition the last two years. OU is one of the 66 schools to earn the Gold Award.