Recognized with Rings: Athletic teams receive $225 rings for conference titles

The varsity sports teams of Central Michigan put in work every year to win a Mid-American Conference Championship.

Whenever this goal is met, team members experience the glory that comes with being crowned champions — receiving a ring to signify their accomplishments.

At CMU, any team that wins a MAC Championship earns rings — including Co-MAC Champions, like the 2015 men’s basketball team — said Senior Associate Athletic Director Cristy Freese.

The NCAA limits the price for championship rings at $325. Central Michigan limits ring costs to $225. Teams can spend more than $225, although CMU will not give past that number.

The athletics department pays for players' and coaches' rings. Freese said sport administrators or athletic trainers may also receive championship rings from athletics.

For the men’s basketball team, CMU Athletics fundraising initiatives did not pay for championship rings for managers that volunteered with the team in 2014-15. Head Coach Keno Davis decided to cover the costs for the group of five team managers.

“We do have a lot of managers that are part of the team that don’t get any money, they don’t get any assistance, they’re just volunteering their time,” Davis said. “I made a donation to make sure to cover those guys because, anything we can do for them (is worthwhile)."

New Jersey senior Adam Bossard was one of five team managers that received a ring for the MAC Championship by the men’s basketball team in 2015. He was a team manager for two years.

“Keno was very gracious, putting his own money toward these rings," he said. "It wasn’t like he put half, he put full money for the managers to get their rings."

Managers for the basketball team are responsible for setting up practice and cleaning up after it is over. They rebound basketballs fan do drills with the players. In the office, put together analytics and statistics and go through tax returns for various expenses, like restaurant expenses, Bossard said.

History of the rings

CMU student-athletes have been receiving MAC Championship rings for many decades. Cristy Freese coached field hockey at CMU from 1986 to 2013 and is now the senior associate athletics director. She still has her ring from her first field hockey MAC Championship in 1990.

“(Rings are) a pretty traditional (award) at every school and it has been going on for some time,” Freese said.

CMU is contracted with Balfour to make championship rings.

After a team wins a MAC Championship, Balfour sends a brochure to the coaches. The brochure contains options in terms of customization, material and size. The ring companies are aware of the NCAA and program rules on rings and how much can be spent, and the brochure is built around that price.

“The only thing that we really want (on the ring) as a department is Central Michigan University,” Freese said. “We usually ask for the ‘Flying C’ to be on it.”

Beyond that, it is up to coaches to decide how they want the ring to look prior to customization. Individuals can choose to put information like the team record or their name on the ring. They can choose the size as well as the material of the ring.

Balfour comes to CMU to measure the ring size for the team members.

The selection process time frame depends on a variety of factors, but Freese said it takes six to eight weeks to be delivered once ordered.

Once the rings come in, the team decides how they want to distribute them. For example, the baseball team received their 2015 MAC Championship rings during halftime of a football game the following school year.

“The players got their rings before one of the home football games, (the managers) got them the day before Christmas break,” Bossard said.

After that, all that remains is doing it again.