Potential recipients of the Award of Valor are current intercollegiate athletics coaches or administrators and current or former varsity letter-winners at NCAA institutions who, when confronted with situations involving personal danger, acted with valor to avert or minimize potential disaster. Valor is described as "the strength of mind or spirit that enables a person to brave danger with boldness and firmness." Members of the armed forces and police forces may receive the award for duty-connected actions if their actions were "clearly above and beyond the call of duty."
The Award of Valor is presented during an award celebration at the NCAA's annual convention. It is not presented automatically on an annual basis. Selection is based on heroic action occurring in the previous academic year.
The notable recipients of the NCAA Award of Valor are:
2009 – Roxana Saberi, a freelance journalist on an alleged espionage charge in Iran. She repeatedly avowed her innocence. She was eventually freed and returned home to the United States, in January 2009. Roxana Saberi graduated from Concordia College Northwestern University and King's College, Cambridge University