Dec. 3, 2008
Updated on August 20 at 1:06 p.m. CT
Park Ridge, Ill.--As the fall term of the 2008-09 school year comes to a close, the Big Ten recognizes a total of 688 fall sports athletes who have been named to the Academic All-Conference Team. The list of honored student-athletes features 59 men's and 106 women's cross country runners, 74 field hockey players, 191 football players, 69 men's and 119 women's soccer athletes and 70 volleyball players. To be eligible for Academic All-Big Ten selection, student-athletes must be letterwinners who are in at least their second academic year at their institution and carry a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher.
At least nine Big Ten student-athletes have maintained unblemished GPAs. A quartet of football players boast 4.0 GPAs in Iowa's Anton Narinskiy (Gr., Accounting), Purdue's Joe Holland (So., Management and Sport Science) and Wisconsin's Chris Pressley (Gr., Life Sciences/Communication). In women's cross country, two student-athletes have maintained a perfect academic record including Illinois' Stephanie Baliga (Jr., Economics) and Michigan's Kaitlyn Peale (So., Engineering). In field hockey, Indiana's Brittney Hacken (Jr., Biology) and Ohio State's Alicia Anzivine (So., International Studies) have earned perfect GPAs. Michigan State's Megan Brown (Jr., Human Biology) has maintained a 4.0 as a member of the women's soccer team, and Purdue volleyball player Kristen Arthurs (So., Speech/Language/Hearing Sciences) rounds out the list of perfect GPAs.
The Big Ten Academic All-Conference award winners also achieved excellence outside of the classroom. In field hockey, Ohio State's Linda Haussener (Sr., Political Science/Economics) and Penn State's Jen Scola (Sr./Finance) earned Co-Offensive Player of the Year accolades, while Penn State's Jen Long (Jr., Health, Policy and Administration) garnered Defensive Player of the Year laurels for the second season in a row. Michigan State's Doug DeMartin (Sr., Finance) was tabbed men's soccer Player of the Year. In football, Ohio State's James Laurinaitis (Sr., Communication) earned his second straight Defensive Player of the Year accolade.
A number of Academic All-Big Ten selections have already been honored as Academic All-Americans during the fall season. On the football field, the Big Ten placed eight Academic All-Big Ten performers on the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America squad. Illinois' Ryan McDonald (Sr., Engineering), Northwestern's Phil Brunner (Gr., Chemical Engineering), Ohio State's Brian Robiskie (Sr., Marketing) and Penn State's Gerald Cadogan (Sr., Rehabilitation Services), Joshua Hall (Sr., Environmental Engineering), Andrew Pitz (Sr., Journalism) and Mark Rubin (Gr., MBA) are all first-team honorees. Second-team honors went to the Nittany Lions' Stefen Wisniewski (So., Education). Penn State's Christa Harmotto (Sr., Elementary and Kindergarten Education) was named a first-team Academic All-American and the Academic All-American of the Year for the sport of volleyball. Teammate Megan Hodge (Jr., Management) earned second-team honors. Five men's soccer players were lauded as top academic performers. Michigan State's DeMartin and Penn State's Ryan Badaracco (Gr., non-degree) were named to the first team. Second-team honors went to Northwestern's Carl Pett (Sr., English) and Drew Ratner (Gr., Psychology), while Indiana's Chay Cain (Sr., Accounting) was named to the third team. In women's soccer, Penn State's Zoe Bouchelle (Sr., Economics) garnered third-team accolades. Cross country and field hockey Academic All-America teams will be named in June of 2009.
The conference office will also present the newly created Distinguished Scholar Award at the end of the academic year. Student-athletes eligible for the Distinguished Scholar Award must be letterwinners in at least their second year in residence at their institution. Qualifying student-athletes must have earned a GPA of 3.7 or higher for the current academic year, excluding summer school. The 3.7 GPA benchmark was designed to include the top 10 percent of all eligible student-athletes. The Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Award was established by conference Faculty Representatives as an addition to the conference's Academic All-Big Ten program. The first recipients will be honored prior to the fall of 2009, based on their GPAs from the 2008-09 academic year.