June 5, 2013
The Big Ten Conference office announced the 2013 Medal of Honor winners, honoring 24 standouts from 18 different sports. The conference’s most prestigious award, the Big Ten Medal of Honor was first awarded in 1915 to one student-athlete from the graduating class of each university who had “attained the greatest proficiency in athletics and scholastic work.”
The 12 institutions of the Big Ten Conference feature more than 8,200 student-athletes, more than any other conference, and only 24 of those individuals are recognized each year with the Big Ten Medal of Honor. In the 99 years of the Medal of Honor, over 1,300 student-athletes have earned this distinction.
This year’s list of distinguished student-athletes includes a two-time Olympian, U.S. and Canadian National Team members, NCAA Champions, Academic All-Americans, an NCAA Elite 89 honoree and numerous All-Americans. All 24 of the recipients have been named Academic All-Big Ten at least once in their careers and 15 received All-Conference recognition this academic year. This year’s honorees are pursuing diverse fields of study with a list of majors that includes business, engineering, human biology, mathematics, and movement science, among many others.
Five 2013 Medal of Honor winners – Illinois’ Brandon Paul, Iowa’s Morgan Johnson, Michigan State’s Caroline Powers, Nebraska’s Mary Weatherholt and Purdue’ Robert Maci – were named Big Ten Sportsmanship Award honorees in their respective sports during the academic year. Powers was also chosen as one of the 24 Outstanding Sportsmanship Award winners from a group of nearly 300 Sportsmanship Award honorees recognized throughout the season. Indiana diver Amy Cozad and Ohio State fencer Max Stearns represent their respective countries on national teams, while Stearns received the NCAA Elite 89 Award for having the highest grade-point average among participants at the NCAA Men’s Fencing Championships. Penn State’s John Urschel and Purdue’s Ariel Turner were named Academic All-Americans, and Iowa’s Javier Balboa and Ohio State’s Alicia Herron and Stearns were recipients of this year’s inaugural Big Ten Postgraduate Scholarships, given to one male and one female student-athlete from each of the 12 Big Ten institutions who plan to continue their education at a graduate degree program.
Athletically, Medal of Honor selections led their teams to national and conference championships during the 2012-13 academic year. Two-time Olympian Noora Räty helped the Minnesota women’s hockey team to an undefeated season and its second consecutive NCAA Championship, while Indiana’s Luis Soffner helped the Hoosiers to their NCAA record eighth national title in men’s soccer. Nebraska’s Weatherholt and Bjorn Barrefors guided the Huskers to conference titles in women’s tennis and men’s outdoor track and field, respectively. Northwestern’s Gabriella Flibotte helped the Wildcats to a women’s lacrosse conference championship and Wisconsin’s Elliot Krause paced the Badgers to conference titles in cross country and indoor track and field. Two Medal of Honor winners garnered individual accolades for their athletic performances during the 2012-13 season, as Michigan State’s Powers was named the Big Ten’s Women’s Golfer of the Year and Nebraska’s Weatherholt was tabbed Women’s Tennis Athlete of the Year.
The Big Ten Medal of Honor was the first award in intercollegiate athletics to demonstrate support for the educational emphasis placed on athletics. It was acclaimed throughout the nation, and in particular by the NCAA “as one of the significant gestures yet made in college sports.” The Big Ten Medal of Honor was expanded in 1982 to include one female student-athlete from each institution. In 2014, the conference will celebrate the 100th anniversary of this prestigious award.
The complete list of 2013 Big Ten Medal of Honor winners can be found below. Go to bigten.org to read more on each student-athlete.