This Week in the Big Ten

July 15, 2018

[ONE // the highest honor of them all]
The Big Ten celebrated its 104th class of recipients who earned the esteemed Big Ten Medal of Honor earlier this year. Twenty-eight students from 17 different sports were honored with the prestigious award, which was established in 1915 and was the first award in intercollegiate athletics to demonstrate support for the educational emphasis placed on athletics. The Big Ten Medal of Honor is awarded to one male and one female student from the graduating class of each member institution who has demonstrated excellence on and off the field throughout their college career. Big Ten schools currently feature more than 9,500 students competing in intercollegiate athletics, but only 28 earn this prestigious award on an annual basis. In more than 100 years of the Big Ten Medal of Honor, better than 1,400 students have earned this distinction.

[TWO // distinguished scholars announced]
The Big Ten announced on Tuesday that 1,143 students competing in intercollegiate athletics have earned the Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Award. The list includes students from all 14 institutions and 38 different sports who have recorded a minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.7 or higher for the previous academic year. The 2017-18 class of Distinguished Scholar Award recipients includes at least 190 students who maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA during the previous academic term. This group of honorees is pursuing diverse fields of study with a list of majors that include mathematics, accountancy, kinesiology, architecture, biological sciences, law and public policy, mechanical engineering, nursing, biotechnology, elementary education, business, journalism, marketing, psychology and many others.

[THREE // rutgers women’s golf honored for academic success by wgca]
Rutgers women's golf has been recognized as one of the nation's top 25 programs in academic performance by the Women's Golf Coaches Association for a second consecutive year. The Scarlet Knights, with a school record seven student-athletes recently named 2017-18 WGCA Division I All-America Scholars, maintained a 3.812 collective grade point average to place third among Division I and first among all Power 5 conference women's golf programs.

[FOUR // northwestern, ohio state earn nabc team excellence award]
Congratulations to Northwestern and Ohio State on earning the Team Academic Excellence Award provided by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). These awards recognize outstanding academic achievement by a team with a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or better for the 2017-18 season. In order to earn a NABC Team Academic Excellence Award, institutions in the NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA must count the grade point averages of all men’s student-athletes who competed during the 2017-18 season.

[FIVE // revsine ready for kickoff]
The Big Ten announced this past Monday that Dave Revsine, BTN’s lead studio host, will serve as host of the 2018 Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon, which will be held Tuesday, July 24, in the Grand Ballroom at the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile. Revsine will be joined at the Kickoff Luncheon by each of the Big Ten’s 14 head coaches, 42 of the conference's top returning students and College Football Hall of Fame inductees Dana Howard of Illinois and Aaron Taylor of Nebraska. Revsine will sit down with the coaches in small groups to discuss the upcoming season and also interview Howard and Taylor. BTN’s Lisa Byington will serve as the sideline reporter for the Kickoff Luncheon, interviewing groups of students throughout the event. 

[SIX // conference challenge set for the pool]
The Atlantic Coast Conference swimming and diving programs will square off against the Big Ten in the inaugural ACC/Big Ten Challenge, the ACC and Big Ten announced this past Monday. The short-course yards dual meet is slated for Nov. 10-11 at the Morgan J. Burke Aquatic Center on the campus of Purdue University. Ticket and television broadcast information will be available in the near future. In a similar format to the successful 2016 College Challenge (versus USA Swimming), a running score will be kept throughout the dual meet competition combining the points earned by both women and men. Team scoring will be used to determine a winner of the All-Star meet. Meet scoring will mirror NCAA dual meet parameters.

[SEVEN // former fighting illini falls in wimbledon final]
After two weeks, seven matches and 182 aces, Kevin Anderson's historic run at the 2018 Wimbledon Championships came to an end Sunday morning. From London to Champaign, Illini Nation rallied around Anderson as three-time Wimbledon champion and No. 12 seed Nadal Djokovic topped the former Illini All-American 2-6, 2-6, 6-7(3). This marks Anderson's second runner-up finish at a Grand Slam final, his first being at the 2017 US Open. In a bit of a Big Ten twist, Anderson and John Isner participated in the first Grand Slam and Wimbledon semifinal between two college players since Michigan’s Malivai Washington defeated Northwestern’s Todd Martin in 1996. In the semifinals, Anderson outlasted Isner, 7-6(6), 6-7(5), 6-7(9), 6-4, 26-24, which was the longest semifinal in Wimbledon history since 1877 at 6 hours, 36 minutes.  Prior to that, he ousted No. 1 Roger Federer, 2-6, 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-4, 13-11, in the quarterfinals.

[EIGHT // current illini coach, former hoosier standout make headlines on the links]
Congratulations to current Illinois men’s golf coach Mike Small and former Indiana standout Steve Wheatcroft on their respective showings in PGA Tour Champions and PGA Tour events, respectively. Small opened the 2018 Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship at Exmoor Country Club in Highland Park, Illinois with a 7-under-par 65 to tie for the lead on Thursday. In Silvis, Illinois, Wheatcroft shot a career-best 9-under 62 on Thursday to take a one-shot lead in the John Deere Classic. Small went on to finish tied for 10th overall at 15-under 273 (65-71-66-71), while Wheatcroft tied for 12th at 15-under 269 (62-68-71-68).

[NINE // the passing of a spartan]
Former Michigan State football head coach Darryl Rogers, who led the Spartans to the 1978 Big Ten Championship, passed away on Wednesday. He was 84 (1934-2018). Rogers coached at Michigan State from 1976-79, posting a 24-18-2 record for the Green and White, including winning the 1978 Big Ten title. He coached three first-team All-Americans at MSU, including wide receiver Kirk Gibson, tight end Mark Brammer and punter Ray Stachowicz. After leading MSU to the conference crown in 1978, Rogers was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year. The Spartans reeled off seven-straight wins to finish the season, starting with a 24-15 win at Michigan, ending 1978 with an 8-3 overall and 7-1 Big Ten record.

[TEN // remembering a hoosier]
Finally this week, Indiana is saddened by the passing of former baseball and basketball player Sam Esposito, who passed away on July 9. He was 86 years old. Esposito starred for the Hoosiers during the 1952 season, lettering in baseball and also was a member of the basketball team. He was drafted by the Chicago White Sox and went on to play 11 seasons in Major League Baseball (Chicago White Sox 1952-63; Kansas City A's 1963). He was part of Chicago's 1959 World Series club. Esposito was a successful college baseball coach, as he served as the head man at N.C. State for 21 years, racking up 513 wins. He was also an assistant coach with the Wolfpack basketball program for 12 years.