2011 Academic Awards Presentation
April 14, 2011
Grant Abston, Texas Media Relations
Over 60 football players were honored at the 2011 Academic Awards Presentation Monday, April 11, at the Frank C. Erwin, Jr., Special Events Center which recognizes student-athletes who have excelled academically during the Spring or Fall 2010 semesters.
Sixty-three members of the football team were named to the Athletics Director's Honor Roll, distinguishing student-athletes who have earned a 3.0 grade point average or higher. In addition, three players - Sam Acho, Michael Cruciani and Heath Hohmann - earned the Provost Award for maintaining a perfect 4.0 grade point average.
"This is probably one of the most fun events, certainly for the academic staff, to see all the student-athletes who have accomplished great things in the classroom as well as on the field," said Brian Davis, Associate Athletic Director for Academic Services. "This is the best night to look at all the things they've done as scholars."
Family, faculty and coaches were alongside the student-athletes who were presented with special awards throughout the night. Six football players were recognized with additional awards, highlighted by Sam Acho, who was presented with the Men's Academic Leadership Award, the Football Lan Hewlett Academic MVP Award and was named an Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar. During the ceremony it was also announced that Acho was named a finalist for the 2011 Arthur Ashe Jr. Overall Sports Scholar Award, becoming the first UT athlete to receive the honor.
"It feels so great to be honored for my academics, not my athletics, because it speaks about what it means to be a true student-athlete," Sam Acho said. "Coach Brown and the entire coaching staff really support academics as well as athletics. They want us to win games, but they want us to also be great people and smart people and have lives and careers after football."
For Acho, it was a family affair as his brother, Emmanuel Acho, was also named an Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar in addition to being a member of the Athletics Director's Honor Roll.
"It's awesome to be reminded that we're not just athletes, we're student-athletes first and foremost," Emmanuel Acho said. "Brian Davis, our head academic advisor, [has] done a good job of giving us all the tools we need to succeed. So thanks to him and the rest of the academic staff, we've been put in a position to do well."
The Acho's parents, Dr. Sonny and Christie Acho, were also in attendance to support their sons' academic achievements. Growing up, the Achos enrolled Sam and Emmanuel in St. Mark's School of Texas in preparation of sending them to an Ivy League school, but their success in football turned the Achos to the University of Texas.
"We are very happy, very excited and very proud of them," Dr. Sonny Acho said. "We're so excited and so thankful that we made a decision to bring them to Texas. Honestly, that's from the bottom of my heart. Texas has been good to us."
Marquise Goodwin, who was a member of the Athletics Director's Honor Roll, also was named an Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar.
"It's a privilege to be honored for my brain instead of what I do on the field or the track," Goodwin said. "It's just a great honor to be here today with all the other athletes. We don't get recognized on TV [for our academics] when we're being broadcasted for our athleticism, so it's a good opportunity for us to get up here for all the hard work we do in the classroom."
"The student part of the student-athlete equation is the first and foremost, and it's just amazing what these young people have achieved," said Chris Plonsky, Director of Women's Athletics. We demand so much of them in training and in how they comport themselves, but when you look at what they've done in the classroom, their GPAs, the majors that they're studying, they belong at the University of Texas and are just as competitive in the classroom as they are on the courts and fields."
With the large number of football players represented at the awards banquet, in addition to all the award winners, Newton expressed pride in being a part of a successful group.
"I'm extremely proud to be a part of that [team]," Newton said. "All of us put in a lot of work in the classroom and in study hall hours with our mentors and tutors, so it's good to see all of us rewarded for that."
In addition, Davis expressed the importance of the football coaching staff's role in the athletes' academic success.
"It really starts with recruiting," Davis said. "Coach Brown tells every recruit the first time he meets them [that] this is a very rigorous intuition, so don't plan to come here if you're not serious about being a student. So that resonates in all the things that we do and certainly has culminated in this kind of an event."
For everyone involved, the event serves as a good reminder of the importance of academics at Texas while highlighting the many successful athletes across campus.
"This is one of the real neat things that has happened over time where we've been able to combine some of these award ceremonies," Plonsky said. "These kids know each other so well. They train together. They go to the dining hall together and they socialize together, and it's just so nice when we have men's and women's athletics together celebrating the things that are most meaningful to them and their parents and their coaches."
"I just feel a sense of pride and it's so much better for our faculty, [the athletes'] parents, teachers and coaches who can come and witness this all in one. Whenever we do things as a team, it's so much better."