Gates, Sullivan Named NU Student-Athletes of the Year
About 750 attended the 19th annual banquet, which also featured the Nebraska Women’s Swimming and Diving Team winning the Life Skills Award of Excellence and the Husker Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Teams sweeping the Herman Team Grade-Point Average titles.
Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osborne was the keynote speaker. “I’m especially proud that Nebraska continues to lead the nation in Academic All-Americans with 268 honorees,” Osborne said. “This is something all of Nebraska takes great pride in and wherever I travel, people associate Nebraska with academic excellence as well as athletic tradition.”
Former Husker football player Bob Oberlin was Osborne’s special guest at the banquet. Oberlin is now considered Nebraska’s first ever Academic All-American, but that honor did not become official and had not been publicly recognized until last year by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).
Formed in 1957, CoSIDA formalized its Academic All-America teams that same year. A center from West Allis, Wis., Oberlin lettered at Nebraska in 1952-53-54. He was named a member of the Lester Jordan Academic All-American Team in 1952 and 1953.
With the help of Nebraska’s Athletic Department, 22 pre-1957 Academic All-Americans from 19 schools are now officially recognized by CoSIDA.
“Bob will now forever be a part of our nation-leading total,” Osborne said, “and we’re pleased to recognize and honor him, along with his wife, Nadine, who came back to Lincoln from Florida for this special occasion.”
Gates was a 2008 First-Team Academic All-American and an eight-time selection to the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll. She played on four Big 12 championship teams, a national championship team, a national runner-up team and captained the Huskers’ Final Four team last December.
“I’ve learned that awards will never define me, or what I’m worth. To me, the feeling of maxing out to my potential and always giving 100 percent is more meaningful,” said Gates, who won two NCAA postgraduate scholarships and intends to pursue graduate school to achieve her goal of becoming a senior women’s administrator or an athletic director.
Sullivan, a two-time first-team All-Big 12 Academic honoree and nine-time member of the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll, is contemplating attending graduate school or law school if a future doesn’t work out in professional baseball.
“Playing for Nebraska and the tradition behind this university was something I always dreamed about,” Sullivan said. “Through all of the adversity I’ve faced, I’ve learned that patience truly is a virtue, and that if you believe in yourself and the all the work you put in, it will pay off in the end.”
Dennis Leblanc, Nebraska’s senior associate athletic director for Academics, joined Osborne in handing out 241 medallions at the banquet. Sixty-seven Huskers earned gold medallions for highest academic honors (3.75-4.0 grade-point average). There were 50 silver medallions for high honors (3.5-.3749 GPA) and 124 bronze medallions for honors (3.0-3.499 GPA).