Texas' Men's Athletics Department honors student-athletes for achievement off the field
A record crowd of 355 that included honored guests, their families and University of Texas staff members were on hand to recognize student-athletes achievements off of the playing field at the Ninth Annual Men's Athletics Academic Awards Presentation Monday night at the Frank Erwin Center's Lone Star Room. All totalled, 123 student-athletes and 40 student support staffers were recognized for achieving at least a 3.0 grade point average during the 2004 calendar year.
"This is one of my favorite nights and it seems to get better every year," said DeLoss Dodds, UT's Men's Athletics Director. "We place a great deal of emphasis on academics and are extemely proud of everything our student-athletes work so hard to achieve on and off the playing field. We understand the challenges and demands they face and this is a great opportunity for our athletics family to reward them for their dedication and hard work in the classroom."
The keynote speaker for the event was Dr. Bruce Walker, UT's Vice Provost and Director of Admissions. He spoke to the group about setting goals, never giving up and the power of positive thinking. Walker, who has been with The University since 1996, has worked to develop and implement policies for enrollment management along with scholarship and financial aid programs. Dr. Walker is currently Chair, National Guidance and Admissions Council of the College Board, and Chair, University Enrollment Management Steering Committee at UT-Austin.
"The quality of student-athletes we attract at The University of Texas never ceases to amaze me," said Dr. Michael Sanders, the Director of Texas' Life Skills Program who has coordinated each of the nine Academic Awards Banquets. "We had three wonderful speeches with strong messages from our Athletics Director, an important member of our university community and one of our student-athletes. And, we had an opportunity to honor almost half of our men's student-athletes on campus for achieving a high level of success in the classroom. It was a terrific night."
Nine Longhorn student-athletes and two student support staffers were honored with Provost Awards for posting a perfect 4.0 GPA for at least one semester in 2004. That group included Tod Bondy (football), Dustin Bynum (track & field), Xang Chareunsab (football), Mark Floreani (track & field), Dallas Griffin (football), David Kahn (swimming & diving), Cody Kelso (student manager), Charles Kourvelas (track & field), Karim Meijer (football), Chad Sour (student manager) and Ryan Wilson (track & field).
The Lan Hewlett Award winners, which goes to a junior or senior letterman with the highest cumulative GPA in each of Texas' men's sports, were honored as well. They were: Trey Bates (football), Floreani (track & field), Jason Glynn (football), Roger Gubser (tennis), Kahn (swimming & diving), Dooley Prince (baseball) and Matt Rosenfeld (golf).
Rainer Kendrick, a senior from Birmingham (Homewood HS), Alabama, earned UT's Academic Services Student-Athlete Award. An All-American performer on the Longhorn swimming & diving squad, he was presented with the honor by UT's assistant swimming coach Kris Kubik. The award is chosen by the Academic Services Staff and is given to a student-athlete who best exemplifies the balance both on the field of athletic competition and in the classroom.
Longhorn All-American linebacker and National Defensive Player of the Year in 2004, Derrick Johnson, received the evening's most prestigious award, the Texas Exes Leadership Award. That honor recognizes a UT men's athlete who embodies the attributes that are valued in alumni leadership. Johnson was recommended for the honor by Athletics Director DeLoss Dodds and approved by UT President Larry Faulkner. It includes a Life Membership to the Texas Exes and is funded by the President's Leadership Award Endowment, which was created by UT benefactor Frank Denius in 1985.
A first round NFL draft pick of the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday, Johnson was with his new team and unable to attend. John Adkins, the President of the Texas Alumni Association presented the honor to Johnson's mother Beverly at the event.
Senior All-American distance runner Mark Floreani capped off a spectacular evening, eloquently responding on behalf of all of the honorees, a much anticipated annual climax to the event. Balancing whit and charm within a fluid, gracious message of gratitude for support and opportunity.
Floreani encouraged the student-athletes in attendance to continue to take advantage of all of the resources they have at UT. Floreani took time to personally thank Dodds, who he called "the best AD in the country."
"You provide us with everything we could possibly need to succeed," Floreani said. "Sometimes I'm embarrassed when I talk to athletes at other schools because we are treated so well here."
Texas' Athletics Department invests almost $2 million annually for student academic services like counseling and facilities and on Monday night at the Erwin Center, the steady flow of academic success stories is evidence that the investment is paying off.