Ron Randleman, head football coach at Sam Houston State University for 23 years, received a unique honor this fall from his alma mater, William Penn University.

Randleman was named as the first recipient of the Ed Thomas Award at William Penn's annual homecoming banquet.

Thomas, for 34 years a coach at Aplington-Parkersburg High School in Iowa, was shot by a former student in June, 2009.

A native of What Cheer, Iowa, Thomas was a stand-out high school athlete who played quarterback William Penn when Randleman was their head coach. Thomas' college career was cut short by a construction accident.After graduation he went on to an outstanding career as a coach.

Thomas took his teams to the Iowa state football playoffs 19 times, winning two state championships. He was inducted into the Iowa High School Football Hall of Fame, was named NFL High School Coach of the Year, received the Walt Fiegel Coaching For Character Award and was a recipient of the William Penn Alumni Association Distinguished Career Award.

"To receive an award named in Ed's honor is extremely gratifying and humbling," Randleman said. "The university called with an invitation to the event just two weeks before Sam Houston's homecoming game. When we heard that it was to be a celebration of Ed's life and accomplishments, I had to be there."

The award Randleman received was inscribed "For his inspiration and motivation as a coach based on the principles of faith, family and excellence."

"That truly describes Ed Thomas," Randleman said. "Ed was one of Parkersburg and Iowa's most beloved citizens. It was a privilege being part of a ceremony honoring his contributions to football and education."

Randleman served as head football coach from 1982 until 2004. When he retired from coaching, he ranked third among NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision active head coaches in total victories with a record of 219 wins, 166 losses and six ties that included 11 conference championships and 10 post-season national playoff appearances.