Dennis Cunningham, Executive Vice President for Security, National Hockey League, was presented the Distinguished Leadership Award during the 2013 National Center for Sports Safety and Security Conference and Exhibition in Orlando, Fla.

The award recognizes a truly special professional in the field who has demonstrated a career full of achievement and contribution with respect to sport safety and security. To warrant this highest honor, the recipient’s service, commitment, ingenuity and integrity have elevated the profession to new levels.

The award recipient is selected by a panel of subject matter experts on behalf of the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) at The University of Southern Mississippi and given annually at the National Sports Safety and Security Conference & Exhibition.

"Dennis is most deserving of this distinguished award," said NCS4 director Dr. Lou Marciani. "He has made numerous safety and security contributions to both the National Hockey League and to the advancement of our Center."

"I am grateful to be the recipient of the Center's Distinguished Leadership Award and would like to extend my thanks to all who have had a part in organizing this award," said Dennis Cunningham, NHL Executive Vice President for Security. "Together, the NCS4 and the University of Southern Mississippi are known for their focus on research, education, and outreach to the sports event security community, and to be recognized by them is an honor."

In addition to Cunningham, the following awards were presented:

Facility of Merit Awards: Texas Motor Speedway, StubHub Center (MLS), Martinsville Speedway (NASCAR), AmericanAirlines Arena (NBA), Tiger Stadium at LSU, Neyland Stadium at University of Tennessee, Spartan Stadium at Michigan State University, Racine Unified School District, University of Phoenix Stadium (NFL), United Center (NHL), and Kauffman Stadium MLB).

Professional of the Year Awards: Executive Event Services (LPGA), Gina McFarlin of FC Dallas Stadium (MLS), Matt Brannock of Martinsville Speedway (NASCAR), Robert Hundevadt of AmericanAirlines Arena (NBA), Larry Naifeh of the University of Oklahoma (NCAA), Thomas J. Gunnell of Katy Independent School District, Matthew Bettenhausen of AEG Worldwide (NFL), Johnny Jackson of Olympia Entertainment (NHL) and Richard Fenton of Ilitch Holdings (MLB).

Established in 2006, the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) at The University of Southern Mississippi was created to provide an interdisciplinary academic environment to further increase sport security awareness, improve sport security policies and procedures and enhance emergency response through evacuation, recovery operations and crowd management training.