Minnesota's Torchia and Purdue's Smith Recognized as 2011 Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award Recipients

March 1, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS – Minnesota cross country and track runner Mike Torchia and Purdue swimmer Allie Smith have been named the recipients of the 2011 Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award presented by the Indianapolis Big Ten Community Partnership. The award is an annual scholarship recognizing one male and one female Big Ten senior student-athlete pursuing a postgraduate degree for achievements in academics, athletics, extracurricular activities and leadership. It is given out in conjunction with the Big Ten Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments.

In recognition of the Big Ten’s leadership in fully integrating athletics into the academic mission of its member institutions, the Indianapolis Community Partnership initiated the Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award in 2008 to complement the Big Ten Basketball Tournaments in Indianapolis. Each Big Ten institution was asked to nominate one male and one female student-athlete for 2011, with a $5,000 scholarship awarded to each winner. Torchia and Smith will be honored during a presentation at halftime of the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament quarterfinal game on Friday, March 11, at 6:30 p.m. ET.

The Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award is named for the former Big Ten Conference commissioner who served from 1971-89. While leading the Big Ten, Duke spent much of his time working to improve academic standards and graduation rates for student-athletes.

“We congratulate Mike Torchia and Allie Smith for earning the 2011 Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award,” said Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delany. “In its fourth year, this award continues to honor a Big Ten student-athlete for success in academics and athletics. Former Commissioner Duke placed great emphasis on civic service and leadership, along with a high-level of performance both in athletic competition and in the classroom. These principles remain a focus for the Big Ten and its member institutions, and Mike and Allie are fitting honorees. We would also like to thank the Indianapolis Big Ten Community Partnership for continuing to recognize the efforts of Big Ten student-athletes.”

“Mike and Allie personify what it takes to succeed as a Big Ten student-athlete,” said Jerry Semler of the Indianapolis Big Ten Local Organizing Committee. “The Wayne Duke Award highlights their achievements in the classroom and points them toward their future endeavors, and we are excited to continue recognizing this caliber of student-athlete for years to come. It is not without outstanding community support that we are able to grant these awards and we thank everyone who made contributions.”

Torchia completed his biochemistry degree in May 2010 and is working on two additional degrees. He is a University of Minnesota Rhodes Scholar nominee, who will attend medical school next year. He has participated in cross country and both indoor and outdoor track during his time at Minnesota, helping the men’s track team to five Big Ten championships in the last three seasons.

Torchia has competed in two NCAA Midwest Region Championships in the 5,000-meter race for track. He has also competed in three NCAA Cross Country Championships during his time with the Gophers. At the 2011 Big Ten Indoor Track Championships, Torchia posted top-10 performances in both the 3,000 and 5,000-meter runs.

Torchia is the president of the University of Minnesota’s Amnesty International chapter, as well as the founder and president of Minnesota’s Institute for the Advancement of Public Education in Running. He also serves as a volunteer and grants researcher and writer for the Dignity Center, a homeless outreach and human services center. The native of Rochester, Minnesota is also currently working with the Associate Dean of Minnesota’s College of Biological Sciences to implement a new biological computing course to be put into next year’s academic calendar.

Smith is a general health sciences and pre-physical therapy major and expects to graduate from Purdue in May. Smith is a two-time honorable mention All-American, Big Ten Distinguished Scholar, Academic All-Big Ten, and CSCAA All-Academic. Smith plans to attend Washington University in St. Louis to pursue her Master’s Degree in physical therapy. She is a member of the Purdue OT/PT, Boilermaker Athletic Council, Purdue Cancer Center Challenge, John Purdue Club Thank-A-Thon, National Girls and Women in Sports Day, Purdue Street Fest and Purdue Dance Marathon.

Smith holds five Purdue swimming records (three individual and two relay) and was the Boilermakers’ leading point scorer at the 2010 Big Ten Championships. At the 2011 Big Ten Championships, the Green Bay, Wis., native broke her own school record in the 100 backstroke for a fourth time and helped Purdue also establish new program benchmarks in the 200 and 400 medley relays. She has been the Boilers’ top performer in the backstroke events during her collegiate career and also excels in the 200 individual medley.

The Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award is made possible by donations from local corporations and individuals supporting collegiate student-athletes. The Indianapolis Big Ten Community Partnership is comprised of the State of Indiana, City of Indianapolis, Indiana Sports Corporation, Pacers Sports & Entertainment, and the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association.

Conseco Fieldhouse will host the Big Ten Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments through 2012. All-session and single-session tickets to the Women’s Tournament can be purchased at the Conseco Fieldhouse box office, www.ticketmaster.com or by calling Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000. All-session tickets are also available for the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament, while single-session tickets for the men’s event will be available starting March 3.

Previous Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award Recipients:
2010: Mark Ison, Northwestern, football; Chelsea Davis, Ohio State, women’s diving.
2009: Drew Ratner, Northwestern, men’s soccer; Lauren Mioton, Purdue, women’s basketball
2008: Kevin Trulock, Indiana, football; Molly Crispell, Penn State, women’s swimming