University of Nebraska student-athletes produced another outstanding year in the classroom, the community and in competition to continue NU’s tradition of success in 2015-16. The Huskers increased their nation-leading total of all-time CoSIDA Academic All-Americans to 325 with five academic All-Americans across all sports.
Nebraska continued to be the only school in the nation with 300 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans, leading No. 2 Notre Dame (251) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (251) by 74. Nebraska remains one of just four schools across all divisions with 200 or more Academic All-Americans, joining Notre Dame, MIT and Stanford (204). NU also extended its nation-leading streak to 45 consecutive years with at least one academic All-American.
A total of 685 awards were issued for the Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Fall (356) and Spring (329) Honor Rolls, recognizing Husker student-athletes who produced a 3.0 GPA or better during a semester. Among that group, Huskers produced 91 perfect 4.0 GPA semesters. A total of 67 Nebraska student-athletes also were honored as Big Ten Distinguished Scholars for posting 3.7 grade-point averages or better and lettering in their respective sports in 2015-16.
Nebraska’s CoSIDA Academic All-America success continues to set the standard for the more than 2,100 NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA institutions across North America. The Husker football team leads all individual sport programs in the nation with 107 all-time CoSIDA Academic All-America awards, while the Nebraska volleyball (37, No. 1) and softball (30) programs are two of only three women’s teams across all sports with 30 or more awards.
The Nebraska men’s track and field program produced two first-team CoSIDA Academic All-Americans for the second consecutive season, after producing three in 2015. Senior Levi Gipson from Lincoln, Neb., became just the second three-time first-team CoSIDA Academic All-American across all men’s sports in Husker history. A seven-time All-American on the track, Gipson was joined on track and field’s first-team CoSIDA Academic All-America squad by teammate Cody Rush. The senior sprinter from Grand Island, Neb., was a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-American and an 11-time All-American on the track. Rush added a prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship ($7,500) and an even more valuable Wayne Duke Postgraduate Scholarship ($10,000) from the Big Ten, while Gipson claimed a Big Ten Postgraduate Scholarship worth ($7,500). Rush gave Nebraska its Big Ten-leading fifth Wayne Duke Postgraduate Scholarship award winner in the past four years. Nebraska’s five awards lead the Big Ten since the inception of the scholarship in 2008, even though Nebraska has only been in the conference since 2011-12.
Nebraska’s 43 combined CoSIDA Academic All-America honors since 2002 for the men’s and women’s track and field program lead the nation. The Husker men’s and women’s track and field programs have combined for a total of 57 CoSIDA Academic All-America awards since 1985.
Nebraska Male Student-Athlete-of-the-Year Shavon Shields captured first-team CoSIDA Academic All-America honors of his own for the second consecutive year, while earning a Big Ten Medal of Honor. Ryan Boldt from the Nebraska baseball team gave the Big Red men four academic All-Americans in 2015-16 by earning third-team honors for the second straight year. On the women’s side, first-team CoSIDA Academic All-American Mattie Fowler captured the Nebraska Female Student-Athlete-of-the-Year Award and the Big Ten Medal of Honor. Melanie Blum from the women’s track and field team added a Big Ten Postgraduate Scholarship of her own worth $7,500.
Nebraska Enhances Benefits for Student-Athletes
In August of 2014, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors restructured the way member institutions and conferences, including the Big Ten, can govern themselves. This change has paved the way for Nebraska to enhance the benefits and experiences for its student-athletes.
In 2015-16, all scholarship student-athletes across all sports had their scholarship calculated based on the full cost of attendance at Nebraska. Every student-athlete was offered an Apple MacBook Air laptop computer to enhance their learning opportunities. Nebraska also created the first known Post-Eligibility Opportunity (PEO) program, where every student-athlete who has graduated and exhausted their athletic eligibility has the opportunity to pursue an internship, participate in a study abroad program or attend graduate school with Nebraska’s support.
Nebraska also has increased its resources and support in all academic and performance-related areas, including Academic Services, Life Skills, Athletic Medicine, Athletic Training, Strength and Conditioning, the Nebraska Athletic Performance Laboratory, Nutrition and Dining Services and Sports Analytics.
Huskers Celebrate Graduations of 109 Student-Athletes in 2015-16
Across all sports, a total of 109 Husker student-athletes earned their bachelor’s degrees from the University of Nebraska from August of 2015 through May of 2016. Nebraska’s May graduating class of 62 joined a total of 39 student-athlete graduates in December of 2015, while eight Huskers earned their degrees in August of 2015.
297 Huskers Honored at 26th Annual Student-Athlete Award Ceremony
The University of Nebraska Athletic Department took one special night to honor its own student-athletes at the 26th annual Student-Athlete Award Ceremony. “A Night at the Lied” featured a red carpet flavor resembling the Emmys, the Oscars and ESPYs. The special event, which included the presentations of 297 honor medallions to high-performing Husker student-athletes, also recognized several outstanding performances.
In addition to Shavon Shields and Mattie Fowler earning Nebraska’s top individual honors as Student-Athletes of the Year, Coach Kerry McDermott’s men’s tennis team (3.418 GPA) and Coach Pablo Morales’ women’s swimming and diving team (3.581 GPA) claimed the 22nd annual Herman Awards. The awards are presented to the Husker squads with the top team grade-point averages. The men’s tennis team won the award for the eighth time in program history. It marked the second consecutive Herman Award victories for both the men’s tennis team and the women’s swimming and diving team.
Nebraska Claims 209 Academic All-Big Ten Awards in 2015-16
Across all sports, Nebraska student-athletes captured 209 academic All-Big Ten selections in 2015-16. Perhaps even more impressively, a total of 67 Husker student-athletes captured Big Ten Conference Distinguished Scholar awards. Those student-athletes produced 3.7 or better grade-point averages during the fall and spring semesters of 2015-16, while also earning letters in their respective sports.
Husker student-athletes also earned 685 spots on the Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll during the fall or spring semesters of 2015-16. To earn a spot on the honor roll, a student-athlete must earn a 3.0 grade-point average during the semester. During the fall or spring semesters, 91 Husker student-athletes produced perfect 4.0 semester GPAs.
Nebraska Life Skills Program Continues to Expand, Aims to Provide Unmatched Experience
In the community, Husker student-athletes from all sports combined to complete more than 400 individual outreach requests while volunteering nearly 6,500 hours to impact approximately 25,000 people in Nebraska communities.
Life Skills is also playing a leading role in enhancing the student-athlete experience at Nebraska. Beginning in 2015-16, Life Skills led a department-wide committee to implement post-graduate opportunities. Starting in December of 2015, Husker letterwinner graduates have a three-year window to take advantage of a $7,500 opportunity to secure an internship, study abroad or attend graduate school within the University of Nebraska system.
The Life Skills program also coordinated its second Service Trip Abroad in 2015-16. A team of 26 Huskers, including 21 student-athletes, one letterwinner alumni and four athletic administrators, traveled to the Dominican Republic in May to help build a sports court in the community of Las Pajas.
In the third year of the Tom Osborne Citizenship Award, 347 student-athletes completed at least six service projects or more earning a place on this prestigious Athletic Department “Good Works” team.
Recognizing their influence on youth, student-athletes served as motivational speakers for Middle School Matters, American Education Week and School is Cool assemblies to promote the importance of education and responsible choices. Husker student-athletes participated in weekly mentoring programs to serve as role-models to Lincoln Public Schools students and assisted several non-profit organizations to promote awareness for various causes.
For the fourth consecutive year, the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame Foundation collaborated with the University of Nebraska Athletic Department to host the Nebraska Sportsmanship 4 Life Pep Rally at the Bob Devaney Sports Center, which reached more than 3,000 middle school students from 54 schools across the state of Nebraska.
In the fall of 2015, the Husker Life Seminar in partnership with the College of Education and Human Sciences entered its seventh year as a requirement for every incoming Husker student-athlete. Nearly 200 student-athletes completed the seminar, which focused on the transition to college life while learning skills to succeed as college students. Within the seminar, all newcomers assisted with the annual Husker Heroes event serving nearly 1,000, primarily children with special needs and their families, for a fun and interactive event on Tom Osborne Field in Memorial Stadium.
The Life Skills staff continues to coordinate a number of major life skills events focusing on personal and career development. Student-athletes attended annual events, including the Student-Athlete Career Fair, Involvement Fair, Financial Forum, Networking Night, Career Clinics and Senior Session. The Life Skills program also offered several events to aid graduate students with the application process and insights on how to enhance marketability for admission. All events are aimed at promoting total person development and preparation for life after sports.
The 2015-16 season marked the 13th year of the Huskers’ innovative Life Skills Award of Excellence Team Competition, which includes winners from both men’s and women’s divisions.
Coach Darin Erstad’s baseball team captured the award on the men’s side, while Coach John Cook’s volleyball team claimed the honor on the women’s side. The Life Skills Award honors the teams demonstrating the strongest commitment to all phases of the Life Skills Program, including outreach, education and leadership. The awards were presented at “A Night at the Lied” in April.
A total of 35 Husker student-athletes were recognized with annual Nebraska Student-Athlete HERO Leadership awards, presented at “A Night at the Lied” ceremony. The HERO awards honor those Huskers who have consistently gone above and beyond establishing themselves as excellent leaders and role models. Mattie Fowler from the Husker softball team, Levi Gipson from the NU men’s track and field team, Ethan Lottman from the Husker men’s gymnastics team and Nathan Wong from the men’s golf team received the prestigious Heart and Soul awards, which recognize exemplary community service and leadership.
Austin Wilson (wrestling) and Tierra Williams (women’s track and field) were Nebraska’s Big Ten Sportsmanship Award winners. Additionally, Director of Athletics Shawn Eichorst and Head Coach Mike Riley recognized a record-setting 65 football student-athletes at the 2015 spring game for being named to the annual Brook Berringer Citizenship Team for extraordinary community service.
In the fall of 2015, Husker Life Skills assumed all Diversity and Inclusion initiatives for Nebraska Athletics. The first Athletic Department Diversity and Inclusion Summit occurred in January of 2016 and reached all staff members and student-athletes. Speakers emphasized the importance of respect, acceptance and unity to reinforce that every person matters. Additionally, a leadership video series was initiated during Black History Month and in honor of Women’s History Month.
Husker alumni Charlie Green, Shawn Buchanan and Peaches James addressed student-athletes and campus leaders during Black History Month for a success panel. Several “Next Steps” stadium and outreach visits were coordinated through Diversity and Inclusion to provide college orientation and exposure to groups, schools and organizations across the state.
The Life Skills program continues to oversee the N-Club and works diligently to engage letterwinner alums. The N-Club’s mission is to provide opportunities to letterwinners from all sports for connection, engagement and involvement through events, special reunions and communication while supporting the athletic, academic and career success of Husker student-athletes. Several social events were held in the fall and spring, allowing alumni the opportunity to reconnect, tour facilities and interact with staff and current Husker student-athletes.
Letterwinners across all sports enjoyed a program and tour of the new Sid and Hazel Dillon Tennis Center and Hibner Soccer Stadium during the fall. Coaches John Walker, Kerry McDermott and Scott Jacobson spoke along with Director of Athletics Shawn Eichorst. In January, alums gathered at Pinnacle Bank Arena before a Husker women’s basketball game to interact with staff members from Athletic Development and Life Skills. In April, approximately 200 Husker alums, staff and current student-athletes collaborated for the N-Club Service Project supporting Kids Against Hunger to package more than 35,000 packets of food to be distributed worldwide.
2015-16 Nebraska Academic Highlights
325 All-Time CoSIDA Academic All-Americans across all sports (leads nation)
107 Football CoSIDA Academic All-Americans (leads all sports, all time)
37 Volleyball CoSIDA Academic All-Americans (leads all women’s sports, all time)
30 Softball CoSIDA Academic All-Americans (No. 3 among all women’s sports, all time)
43 Men’s & Women’s Track & Field/Cross Country Combined CoSIDA Academic All-Americans
(leads nation since CoSIDA added team in 2002)
Five CoSIDA Academic All-Americans in 2015-16 (4 first-team, 1 third-team)
First Team: Levi Gipson (Men’s Track & Field), Cody Rush (Men’s Track & Field), Shavon Shields (Men’s Basketball), Mattie Fowler (Softball)
Third Team: Ryan Boldt (Baseball)
NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship ($7,500)
Cody Rush (Men’s Track & Field)
Big Ten Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award ($10,000)
Cody Rush (Men’s Track & Field)
Big Ten Postgraduate Scholarship Winners ($7,500 each)
Melanie Blum (Women’s Track & Field)
Levi Gipson (Men’s Track & Field)
Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars Award (31)
Oladapo Akinmoladun (Track & Field), Paula Andrie (Track & Field), Lia Baldo (Soccer), Alexandra Bilunas (Swimming & Diving), Julia Bond (Bowling), Jasmine Cincore (Women’s Basketball), Kristen Dowell (Track & Field), Jordan Ehly (Swimming & Diving), Jerald Foster (Football), Francesca Giganti (Swimming & Diving), Briana Holman (Volleyball), Danielle Jones (Track & Field), Harrison Jordan (Football), Garett King (Baseball), Ashley Lambert (Women’s Gymnastics), Alexandrea Lorentz (Rifle), Mackenna Maddox-Herr (Women’s Tennis), Gazmine Mason (Bowling), Sydney Miramontez (Soccer), Sanjaya Roy (Men’s Gymnastics), Givens Price (Football), Christian Sanderfer (Track & Field), Tristen Sharp (Track & Field),
Shavon Shields (Men’s Basketball), Morgan Smith (Track & Field), Rachel Theriot (Women’s Basketball), Toni Tupper (Track & Field), Kevin Williams (Football), Tierra Williams (Track & Field), Aaron Wong (Men’s Golf), Dedrick Young (Football)
Male Student-Athlete of the Year
Shavon Shields, Men’s Basketball (Biological Sciences)
Female Student-Athlete of the Year
Mattie Fowler, Softball (Finance)
Big Ten Medal of Honor Winners
Mattie Fowler (Softball); Shavon Shields (Men’s Basketball)
Big Ten Sportsmanship Award Winners
Austin Wilson (Wrestling); Tierra Williams (Women’s Track & Field)
Herman Team GPA Award Winners
Men's Tennis Team (3.418 GPA)
Women's Swimming & Diving Team (3.581 GPA)
Life Skills Award of Excellence Winners
685 Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll Selections
Fall (356), Spring (329) (3.0 GPA or above)
209 Academic All-Big Ten Selections Across All Sports (3.0 GPA or above)
109 Student-Athletes Earned Degrees
8, August 2015; 39, December 2015; 62, May 2016)
91 Student-Athletes Earned Perfect 4.0 GPAs Semesters
Fall Semester (38), Spring Semester (53)
67 Husker Letterwinners Named Big Ten Distinguished Scholars (3.7 GPA or better in 2015-16)