LSU, TAF Honor Student-Athletes at Academic Gala
BATON ROUGE – LSU honored 190 student-athletes for their achievement in the classroom during the 2013-14 academic year as the university held the annual Tiger Athletic Foundation Academic Excellence Gala at the Stadium South Club inside Tiger Stadium on Monday.
The TAF Academic Excellence Gala is held each year as a way to honor those LSU student-athletes who have had success in the classroom, community and in competition.
“There are many moments in life that you can recall vividly,” Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Executive Director of the Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes Kenneth Miles said. “The Academic Gala is certainly one of those moments that highlights and celebrates the accomplishments of our student-athletes, but more importantly, it is a momentous occasion that allows us the opportunity to witness the next doctor, lawyer, mechanical engineer, professional athlete, and other professions that will have an impact not only in this state but within the United States and beyond.
“Money can buy many things, but there isn’t enough money in the world to buy this experience. And as always, we, in the Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes, are extremely proud of them and their accomplishments. Forever LSU.”
A total of 150 LSU student-athletes earned a spot on the Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll in 2013-14, while 190 student-athletes were distinguished as recipients of the Director’s Cup Award for Academic Excellence.
For a student-athlete to be recognized as a scholar-athlete at the gala, they must meet the criteria in one of the following categories: SEC Academic Honor Roll, LSU Director’s Cup Award for Academic Excellence, or inducted into the National College Athlete Honor Society (Chi Alpha Sigma).
The Director’s Cup Award for Academic Excellence recognizes student-athletes who have earned a 3.0 or higher grade point average over the past year. For the 2013-14 academic year, 190 student-athletes at LSU met the criteria.
There were also 35 student-athletes recognized as members of Chi Alpha Sigma, the National College Athlete Honor Society. Student-athletes who have maintained a 3.4 or higher cumulative grade point average by the time they have reached at least junior academic status, are of good moral character, have earned a letter in their sport and have been endorsed by their coach are eligible for this honor.
In addition to its academic success, LSU student-athletes combined to contribute over 4,475 hours of community service with the gymnastics team leading the way with 443 of these hours. As a result, the gymnastics team earned the community service cup.
Rheagan Courville of the gymnastics team repeated as TAF Female Athlete of the Year after she won her second NCAA vault national title and earned numerous First-Team All-America honors in 2014. She finished the season with eight total All-America honors and as the No. 2 ranked all-around performer in the nation.
Aaron Nola of the baseball team won the TAF Male Athlete of the Year award for his outstanding performance on the mound. He was named the 2014 National and SEC Pitcher of the Year, a First-Team All-American and an All-SEC performer. Nola finished his junior season at 11-1 with a 1.47 earned run average in 116.1 innings with 27 walks, 134 strikeouts and a .172 opponent batting average.
Kenny Hilliard from the football team claimed the “Eye of the Tiger” Award, which goes to the person who has overcome great adversity with perseverance, dedication and determination.
Dylan Supak from the softball team, who holds a perfect 4.0 GPA in kinesiology, was named the TAF Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year, while Tommy LeBeau from the football team, who has a 3.927 GPA in mechanical engineering, was the recipient of the TAF Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
The gymnastics team won the Tiger Cup Award, which goes to the team that combined to be the most productive in the areas of competitive success, academic accomplishment and community service participation. Gymnastics is a repeat winner after sharing the Tiger Cup last year with softball.
The recipient of the Tiger Cup is determined by combining a team’s final conference and national ranking in competition with its cumulative grade point average and community service hours accumulated off the field during the previous academic year.
Joseph Caraway from men’s track and field and Kaleigh Dickson from gymnastics were presented the Bengal Belles Academic Achievement Awards as both competed during the 2014 season while in graduate school.
Nine student-athletes received the Wally Pontiff Jr. Academic Excellence Award. Those student-athletes included Alex Boulet of softball (3.991 GPA in mathematics), Philip Dempsey of track and field (3.964 GPA in biological sciences), Nadine Dreher of women’s golf (3.947 GPA in sport management), Michelle Gauthier of gymnastics (3.954 GPA in kinesiology), Therese Jernbeck of women’s track and field (4.0 in international trade & finance), Tommy LeBeau of football (3.927 GPA in mechanical engineering), Chaiss Mathews of women’s track and field (4.0 GPA in biology), Mariel McLaughlin of soccer (3.944 GPA in biology) and Dylan Supak of softball (4.0 GPA in kinesiology). The Wally Pontiff Jr. Academic Excellence Award goes to those student-athletes who are in their third year at LSU and have a 3.9 or higher cumulative grade point average.
The men’s golf team with a combined 3.224 grade point average and the women’s golf team with a 3.4843 grade point average were recognized for having the highest grade point average of all LSU athletic squads.
Amy McClosky-McGinley was the recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award. McClosky-McGinley was an All-SEC performer, All-American, two-time Academic All-American and three-time SEC Academic Honor Roll member while competing for the gymnastics team from 1995-98. McClosky-McGinley was elected to the LSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2013.
David Collins of track and field was named the Male Volunteer of the Year, while Shanece McKinney of women’s basketball was honored as the Female Volunteer of the Year. Collins accumulated 86.5 total hours of community service, and McKinney contributed 193 hours of her time in the community in 2013-14.
TAF Male Athlete of the Year
Aaron Nola, baseball
TAF Female Athlete of the Year
Rheagan Courville, gymnastics
Eye of the Tiger Award
Kenny Hilliard, football
TAF Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Tommy LeBeau, football
TAF Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Dylan Supak, softball
Tiger Cup Award
Community Service Cup
Bengal Belles Male Academic Achievement Award
Joseph Caraway, track and field
Bengal Belles Female Academic Achievement Award
Kaleigh Dickson, gymnastics
Wally Pontiff Jr. Academic Excellence Awards
Alex Boulet, softball
Philip Dempsey, track and field
Nadine Dreher, women’s golf
Michelle Gauthier, gymnastics
Therese Jernbeck, track and field
Tommy LeBeau, football
Chaiss Matthews, track and field
Mariel McLaughlin, soccer
Dylan Supak, softball
Male Volunteer of the Year
David Collins, track and field
Female Volunteer of the Year
Shanece McKinney, women’s basketball
Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award
Amy McClosky-McGinley, gymnastics
Male Team Highest GPA Award
Men’s Golf, 3.224 GPA
Female Team Highest GPA Award
Women’s Golf, 3.4843 GPA
2015 LSU Scholar-Athletes
* Director’s Cup
^ SEC Honor Roll
# Chi Alpha Sigma
John David Moore*
MEN’S SWIMMING & DIVING
WOMEN’S SWIMMING & DIVING
MEN’S TRACK & FIELD
Joseph St. Cyr*#
WOMEN’S TRACK & FIELD