Honoring the 'student' in student-athlete
Men's Athletics Director DeLoss Dodds has been consistent in his message to student-athletes at The University of Texas throughout his 27 years of service in Austin.
"Winning in life is more important than any victory you can achieve on the playing field," Dodds has said frequently.
At Texas, a standard of excellence continues to apply in all areas. To this point in the 2007-08 athletics season, every UT men's intercollegiate athletics team that has completed its year has finished in the Top 20 at its respective NCAA Championship or been ranked among the Top 20 in its final poll: cross country (17th at NCAA Championship), football (No. 10 in final Associated Press poll, Holiday Bowl Champions), indoor track and field (third at NCAA Championship), swimming and diving (second at NCAA Championship) and basketball (No. 5 in final ESPN/USA Today poll, NCAA Tournament "Elite Eight"). In addition, the Longhorns have won Big 12 Conference men's titles in indoor track and field, swimming and diving, basketball and tennis.
But on Monday night, it was the achievements of Texas student-athletes in the classroom that were honored at the 12th Annual Men's Athletics Awards Presentation at the Frank Erwin Center. All totaled, 162 student-athletes and 36 student support staffers were recognized for achieving at least a 3.0 grade point average during the 2007 calendar year.
Track and field standout Leo Manzano claimed the most prestigious award of the evening, the Texas Exes Leadership Award. The honor is presented annually to recognize a student-athlete who embodies the attributes that are valued in alumni leadership. Such attributes include academic excellence, unselfish team play, desire to excel, service to the community and respected leadership. The winner of the award receives a Life Membership to the Texas Exes, funded by the President's Leadership Award Endowment created by Frank Denius in 1985.
"I'm on course to be the first person in my family to graduate from a university, so my academics are really important to me," Manzano said. "I believe success in the classroom is an important part of being a Longhorn, and I'm honored to have been chosen for this award."
Manzano, who is on pace to graduate this year with a double major in Spanish and Portuguese, won the NCAA individual title in the mile for the second straight year and anchored UT's distance medley relay championship team at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in March. He also earned All-America honors in cross country this past fall. Entering his final outdoor season of competition, Manzano is a four-time NCAA Champion and an eight-time All-American.
Former UT basketball star Terrence Rencher earned the Intercollegiate Athletics Council Academic Achievement Award. The honor recognizes student-athletes who, through perseverance, determination and motivation, have met the academic challenges and have or will graduate. These student-athletes also have served as leaders and influential role models to other student-athletes and to the community.
"To be recognized on the academic side at this point in my life is very rewarding," Rencher said. "I'm trying to develop into a leader, both personally for my family and professionally as a teacher and coach. I know I have come a long ways in the classroom since my undergraduate playing days. I have to give a lot of the credit for my success to the current student-athletes here at Texas, as I have been very motivated by how hard they all work in study hall and in their athletic competitions."
The all-time leading scorer in UT history (2,306 points), Rencher finished his collegiate career in 1995. After a 10-year professional basketball career that saw Rencher play both in the NBA and overseas, he returned to Austin and earned his bachelor's degree in applied learning and development from the College of Education in December. While he completed his degree at Texas, Rencher also worked as a mentor in study hall, served as a Longhorn Leader and spoke often to groups in the community and across the UT campus.
Sophomore basketball standout D.J. Augustin claimed the Academic Excellence and Spirit Award. This honor is presented to a student-athlete who attains a combination of the highest levels of academics and athletics achievement.
"As I've said throughout the year, I'm most proud of the success that I've had in the classroom," Augustin said. "Becoming an Academic All-American is the only individual honor I set out to attain, and achieving that goal was very rewarding. I'm humbled to receive this honor tonight, because there are so many great student-athletes here at The University of Texas."
Augustin earned both consensus first-team All-America honors and first-team Academic All-America accolades, becoming just the 15th men's basketball player in NCAA history to earn both awards in the same season. The winner of the Bob Cousy Award as the nation's top point guard, Augustin carries a 3.64 cumulative grade point average while majoring in education.
Twenty-four Longhorn student-athletes and one student support staffer were honored with Provost Awards for posting a perfect 4.0 GPA during at least one semester in 2007. That group included Drew Bishop (baseball), Kyle Russell (baseball), D.J. Augustin (basketball), Dustin Earnest (football), Dallas Griffin (football), Drew Kelson (football), Chad Kugler (football), Stephen Lane (football), Derek Lokey (football), Cory Michner (football), Ryan Moench (football), Justin Moore (football), Chris Ogbonnaya (football), Frank Okam (football), Alex Spears (football), Clayton Tefteller (football), Jesus Torres (football), Matt McGinnis (swimming), Hubert Chodkiewicz (tennis), Jon Wiegand (tennis), Kenneth Greaves (track and field), Donovan Kilmartin (track and field), Will Schroeder (track and field), Owen Washburn (track and field) and Jessica Yanta (athletic trainer).
The Lan Hewlett Awards were presented to the male student-athletes who have the highest cumulative grade point average on their respective teams. The individual winners must be either junior or senior letter winners. Those honored as Lan Hewlett Award winners were Drew Bishop (baseball), Connor Atchley (basketball), Dallas Griffin (football), Kevin Schultz (golf), Matt McGinnis (swimming and diving), Miguel Reyes-Varela (tennis) and Will Schroeder (track and field).
For Dodds, the evening simply has become one of his favorite annual events.
"I take pride in seeing these outstanding young people achieve great things in academics and athletics," Dodds said. "In the classroom right now, we have more than half of our men earning 3.0 GPAs or better. That is a testament to consistent, hard work. My thanks also go out to our academic services staff that coach time management and provide important academic structure to our student-athletes."
Athletics Director Awards
Swimming & Diving
Track & Field/Cross Country