Student-Athletes Honored at SASS Gala
April 12, 2011
East Lansing, Mich. - Michigan State's Student-Athlete Support Services (SASS) held its 14th annual Academic Gala on Monday evening, April 11. The Spartan athletic teams and their student-athletes were honored for their tremendous success in the classroom during the 2010-11 academic year. Student-athletes with at least a sophomore academic standing and a 3.0 or better cumulative GPA were honored, as well as a number of individual award winners who excelled not only in the classroom, but in other endeavors as well. In all, 267 student-athletes were honored on Monday evening, up from 240 a year ago.
In addition to the honors, the student-athletes, families, athletic department staff, and campus community heard a keynote address from Detroit mayor Dave Bing. Bing was a student-athlete during his undergraduate days at Syracuse University, where he was a three-year letterwinner, earned All-America honors and was a co-captain for the 1965-66 season. Bing went on to play nine of his 12 years in the NBA with the Detroit Pistons. He was voted one of the top 50 NBA players of all time, was inducted into the Michigan Hall of Fame in 1984, and into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1990. Bing turned his winning strategies from the basketball court to the boardroom as the founder of The Bing Group, an automotive supply corporation, in 1980. Within a decade, The Bing Group was recognized as one of the nation's top Minority-Owned Companies by Black Enterprise. Bing served as President and Chairman of The Bing Group until April of 2009. A noted civic leader, Bing has always taken an active role in helping the citizens of Detroit, and was elected Mayor of that city in May 2009.
The evening's most prestigious honor is the President's Award, presented to the male and female graduating senior with the highest cumulative grade point average and who has exhausted their eligibility in the 2010-11 school year. The recipients were swimmer Brian Rockwell (Houston, Texas) and cross country/track & field runner Thereseann Huprikar (Gaylord, Mich.).
A top student-athlete, Rockwell has embraced every aspect of his college experience while executing his path of success. A two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and Honors College member, Rockwell maintains a perfect 4.00 GPA while double majoring in mechanical engineering and economics. In addition to his excellence in the classroom, Rockwell has demonstrated leadership in the community as the president of Pi Tau Sigma (Mechanical Engineering Honor Society) and as a member of Tau Beta Pi (Engineering Honor Society). After graduation, Rockwell will spend the summer interning for Chrysler in Powertrain Engineering. In the fall, he will start a Master's program in mechanical engineering at Stanford University or the University of Michigan.
Huprikar's collegiate career is noted not only for her athletic accomplishments but also for her excellence in the classroom and the community. A three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, she maintains a 3.906 GPA while double majoring in physiology and human biology. Huprikar showcases her commitment to the community by actively participating in Student-Athlete Support Services' Putting Athletes and Community Together (PACT) Program as well as University and community-driven outreach initiatives such as Hospice of Lansing, Habitat for Humanity and the American Red Cross. Huprikar will begin her journey towards her goal of becoming a physician when she starts medical school in the fall.
The Athletic Director's Award is presented to one male and one female team with the highest cumulative grade point average after the Fall 2010 semester. This year's recipients were the gymnastics team, which received the award for the second time with an impressive 3.437 team GPA, and the men's tennis team, which with a 3.439 team GPA claimed this award for a record setting seventh time and fourth year in a row. Aaron Bates (New Concord, Ohio) was the recipient of the Gwendolyn Norrell Community Service and Leadership Award. Presented to the student-athlete who best exemplifies the goals of the PACT (Putting Athletes and Community Together) program, Bates serves as a leader in the field of community service and outreach. During his collegiate career at Michigan State, Bates has excelled at the highest levels of athletics, academics, and community service and leadership. He owns an impressive 3.953 GPA in general management, has been named an Academic All-Big Ten selection three times, and has earned the Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Award twice. On the football field, Bates established himself as one of the best punters in program history. He finished his career ranked among MSU's all-time leaders in punts (second with 260), punting yards (second with 10,907 yards) and punting average (seventh with 42.0). Bates' teammates elected him captain, the first punter at Michigan State program history to serve as a captain. He responded by helping lead the Spartans to their first Big Ten title in 20 years. Participating in numerous events throughout the Greater Lansing area, Bates' involvement in the community is equally as impressive as his athletic and academic achievements. Bates is awaiting acceptance into MSU's graduate program in kinesiology/sports administration and will pursue a career in professional football as well.
The Harold & Raynor Shnider Office of the Provost Award is annually presented to the outstanding male and female freshman or sophomore student-athlete who embodies the characteristics promoted by Student-Athlete Support Services. An emphasis is placed on academic performance, community involvement and leadership ability. The female recipient was sophomore tennis player Amy Barton (Brisbane, Australia), who came to Michigan State as a highly-successful scholar-athlete. Not only has Barton's tennis success continued at MSU (where she plays No.1 singles and doubles), but her achievements have gone beyond the court, and into the classroom and community. The 2010 letterwinner carries a 3.227 cumulative GPA in dietetics while also being an active participant in Student-Athlete Support Services' Putting Athletes and Community Together (PACT) program.
The male recipient is quarterback Andrew Maxwell (Midland, Mich.), who has quickly made an impact at Michigan State in the classroom, the community, and on the football team. He has done an admirable job balancing his academic and athletic endeavors as well as taking an active role in community outreach initiatives. On the field, he's developing his leadership skills as a back-up quarterback and earned his first letter this past season after playing in five games, including the 2011 Capital One Bowl. He has earned Academic All-Big Ten honors for his efforts in the classroom, where he has compiled a 3.708 GPA as a supply chain management major.
MSU's Multicultural Award is presented to a student-athlete who promotes inclusion as well as exhibits strong leadership in the areas of community service and diversity programming. Charelise Davis (Pittsburgh, Pa.), a four-year letterwinner and women's track and field captain, has shown an outstanding commitment to Student-Athlete Support Services' Multicultural Program. This family community services major involves herself in a variety of outreach activities while also serving as a leader and role model to other student-athletes. Her vision and leadership on important student-athlete issues and her involvement in the planning and coordination of the Senior Send-Off and Celebration Dinners have helped significantly to further the initiatives of the Multicultural Advisory Committee.
Finally, the Scholar-Athlete Award is presented to the individual from each team who has reached at least junior academic status, has received a minimum of one varsity letter, and while meeting these requirements, maintains the highest cumulative grade point average on their team.
Baseball- Brandon Eckerle