The Big Ten Medal of Honor is the conference's most exclusive award and was the first of its kind in intercollegiate athletics to recognize academic and athletic excellence. 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." Big Ten schools currently feature almost 9,500 student-athletes, but only 28 earn this prestigious award on an annual basis. In the 100 years of the Medal of Honor, almost 1,400 student-athletes have earned this distinction.
A four-year letterwinner for the Maryland women’s basketball team and this year's SAAC President, Confroy will graduate with a degree in biology and a concentration in neurobiology and physiology later this month. She will attend the Wake Forest School of Medicine in the fall. Confroy earned Academic All-Big Ten honors every season and was named a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar. She earned CoSIDA Academic All-District II honors twice.
“I am humbled but mostly honored to be selected as the Big Ten Medal of Honor recipient,” said Confroy. “I will forever be grateful for the opportunities afforded to me through Maryland both in the classroom and on the court. I have crossed paths with so many influential and inspiring people. I came to Maryland as a girl living her dream of playing division I basketball and will be leaving with a new vision of who I want to be for the rest of my life. I look forward to paying it forward in the years to come! Go Terps!”
This season, Confroy led Big Ten and was No. 8 in the NCAA in three-point field goal percentage (.450). She averaged 9.5 points with 5.1 rebounds per game as she helped the Terrapins to a record of 26-8, 12-4 in league play and their eighth straight NCAA Tournament appearance. The Solon, Ohio native is No. 2 in the Maryland history books in career threes made with 217 and No. 3 in program history in career three-point field goal percentage (.405). She helped the Terrapins to the 2015 Final Four, four NCAA Tournament appearances, two Sweet Sixteens and six Big Ten regular season and conference titles combined.
Leto is a four-year letterwinner for the Maryland men’s track and field team set to graduate in May with a 3.46 GPA in kinesiology. A two-time academic all-conference honoree, Leto has been named to the Deans List twice and has been on the Athlete Honor Roll every semester since enrolling at Maryland. Leto is a Big Ten Outstanding Sportsmanship Award winner and has won both the Terp Award for Community Service and the James H. Kehoe Award, given to the male student-athlete who exemplifies the ideals of sportsmanship.
“Its seriously humbling to be this year’s recipient,” said Leto. “When the Big Ten Medal of Honor was presented my freshman year at Terp Awards it was an award I had my eyes on for my senior year and when I was presented as the recipient this year at practice I didn’t know what to say or how to feel. It was such a great feeling to see my hard work on the track and classroom and in the community and department as a whole pay off. This is definitely an award I will have on display for the rest of my life.”
The Old Bridge, N.J. native has been a mainstay for the track and field program over his four years, competing in the 200m, 300m and 400m events over his time as a Terp. This year, Leto has set career-best marks in both the 200 and 300, running a 21.73 in the 200m dash this past weekend at the Kehoe Twilight Meet to finish third. Earlier this year in the indoor season at the Spire NCAA D-1 Indoor Track & Field Classic, Leto ran a 34.15 to finish second. Leto has posted 15 first place finishes over his four-year Terrapin career.
“We are excited to honor Kristen and Alex as our Big Ten Medal of Honor recipients," said University of Maryland executive athletic director Damon Evans. “Kristen and Alex are impressive individuals whose outstanding accomplishments both in the classroom and in their respective sports have inspired us all. They have extremely bright futures ahead of them and this prestigious honor is to express our appreciation for their tireless work and commitment to our university, athletics program and campus community."
"I would like to congratulate Kristen and Alex on this very prestigious honor,” Dr. Nick Hadley, faculty athletics representative said. “They both represent the finest in Maryland Athletics."
The Big Ten, the nation's oldest collegiate conference, is commemorating the 104th anniversary of the Big Ten Medal of Honor in 2018.