Aaron Craft, Allison Elber Receive Big Ten Medal of Honor
April 14, 2014
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State Department of Athletics held the 47th-annual Scholar-Athlete Dinner Monday in the Archie M. Griffin Ballroom at the Ohio Union to honor its student-athletes for their academic and athletic accomplishments. At the event, 511 Ohio State Scholar-Athletes were recognized and a number of senior awards were given out.
The Big Ten, the nation’s oldest collegiate conference, commemorates the 100th anniversary of a very unique tradition – the Big Ten Medal of Honor. The conference’s most exclusive award 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 more than 8,200 student-athletes, but only 24 earn this prestigious award on an annual basis. In the 99 years of the Medal of Honor, over 1,300 student-athletes have earned this distinction. This honor includes a $5,000 postgraduate scholarship.
The finalists for the Big Ten Medal of Honor were Chelsea Aton (synchronized swimming), Alex Norris (swimming), Berta-Naoko Queralt O’Callaghan (field hockey) and Melanie Shaffer (Gymnastics) on the women’s side, while the male candidates were Peter Kobelt (tennis), Michael Newburger (gymnastics), Logan Schuss (lacrosse) and Korbin Smith (track and field).
A native of Brunswick, Ohio, Elber is a four-time Ohio State Scholar-Athlete, three-time Academic All-Big Ten and Big Ten Distinguished Scholar. A team captain, Elber set program history as part of the first women’s team at Ohio State to win an NCAA Championship. As a member of the first varsity eight, Elber won a bronze medal at the 2013 NCAA Championships and a gold medal at the 2013 Big Ten Championships, earning CRCA First Team All-Central Region, Pocock First Team All-America and First Team All-Big Ten honors. Throughout her four-year collegiate career, Elber was a member of the 2013 and 2011 Big Ten Championship winning teams, guiding the Buckeyes to their third and fourth conference titles, respectively. A psychology major, Elber will be attending graduate school at the University of Denver to study sport and performance psychology.
Craft will leave Ohio State as one of the most successful student-athletes of all-time in men’s basketball. The Findlay, Ohio, native completed a decorated career with 119 wins, an average of nearly 30 victories per year. He, along with classmate Lenzelle Smith Jr., led the Buckeyes to four NCAA tournaments, three “Sweet 16s,” two “Elite Eights” and the 2012 Final Four. Individually, Craft is the all-time steals leader in Ohio State and Big Ten history with 337. His 694 career assists tops the Ohio State chart and rates No. 5 in Big Ten history. Craft was equally, if not more accomplished, in the classroom. A three-time academic All-American, Ohio State’s first three-time honoree and just the fourth in Big Ten history, Craft also was named the academic All-American of the year in Division I Men’s Basketball, twice, one of just three to be so honored all-time. At the 2014 Final Four in Dallas, Craft was honored by the National Association of Basketball Coaches as the 2014 Defensive Player of the Year and is a 2014 Senior CLASS Award First Team All-American.
The Corwin A. Fergus Memorial Award was given to Dominique Alexander (men’s lacrosse), Mallory Kreider (women’s cross country), Rixt Miedema (rowing) and Korbin Smith (men’s track and field). Fergus scholars are male or female student-athletes who have excelled in athletics, achieved academically (3.00 GPA minimum), demonstrated positive qualities of character and citizenship and shown potential for success in a graduate or professional program. Established in 1967, the award is given in memory of Corwin A. Fergus, a member of the Ohio State football team (1912-14), a graduate of the Ohio State School of Law and later a successful businessman. The award reflects his strong commitment to the pursuit of academic and athletic excellence and his positive contributions to society. The $5,000 postgraduate scholarships, which each are renewable for up to three years, can be utilized for graduate study or professional programs at Ohio State.
Men’s swimmer Ian Betts was the recipient of the Pierce Phoenix Award, which is given to a student-athlete who has excelled in academics, athletics and personal growth attained through perseverance and hard work. The award is to be used to attend graduate or professional school at Ohio State, with preference given to someone who intends to enroll in the Fisher College of Business.
Wrestler Josh Whitt was the recipient of the Men's Varsity O Scholarship Award. The Men’s Varsity O award provides a male scholar-athlete with a one-time stipend of $4,000 for postgraduate studies at Ohio State. The ideal candidate maintained a 3.0 GPA or higher during undergraduate studies, earned a varsity letter and performed community service.
Alex Norris from the women’s swimming team received the Leann Grimes-Davidge Award, which is a tribute to Grimes-Davidge’s contributions to athletics at Ohio State. The honor is given annually to a female athlete who reflects Grimes-Davidge’s outstanding qualities of athletic performance, scholarship, character, campus or community involvement and leadership. A member of the Ohio State women’s tennis team, Grimes-Davidge won four state and Big Ten titles. She graduated from Ohio State summa cum laude and received her master’s degree from Miami University where she served as the head women’s tennis coach.
Amy Scullion from women’s basketball and Rebecca Allis from the women’s hockey team received the M/I Homes Foundation Award, which has been awarded annually since 1976. The award was one of the first designed specifically to recognize and promote women’s achievements in intercollegiate athletics at Ohio State. It provides an outstanding female scholar-athlete $5,000 for postgraduate studies at Ohio State. The award is based on demonstrated athletic and academic success as well as community contributions through involvement in civic or university organizations.
Selections for The Woody and Anne Hayes Scholarship Fund were Andrew McDonald (men’s fencing), Maria Swartz (field hockey) and Taylore Urban (rowing). The award, established in 1979, provides one or more varsity athletes with financial assistance for postgraduate studies. The recipients of this scholarship are student-athletes who have demonstrated academic achievement (3.00 GPA minimum) and leadership qualities.
Kobelt was honored with The John Dana Cole Fund. This award, established in 1966 by a gift through the Development Fund from John D. Cole, provides a one-time stipend for post-graduate studies at Ohio State. The recipient of this scholarship is a student-athlete who shows the promise of success in his/her chosen field and has demonstrated academic achievement (3.00 GPA minimum).
The men’s pistol team was honored by Men’s Varsity O for having the most improved team grade-point average and the men’s tennis team was recognized for having the top team GPA among the men’s programs. On the women’s side, pistol earned the most improved team GPA award, with the cross country program lauded for having the top team GPA among all women’s teams.
A complete list of the 2013-14 Ohio State Scholar-Athletes is available at the following link: go.osu.edu/2014S-Alist.