BATON ROUGE -- LSU offensive lineman Rudy Niswanger, along with Florida women's basketball player Sarah Lowe, have been named recipients of the 2005-2006 H. Boyd McWhorter Southeastern Conference Scholar-Athletes of the Year Award, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive announced on Thursday.
The two were chosen by a committee of Faculty Athletics Representatives from SEC universities. Both will receive a $10,000 post-graduate scholarship. The awards will be formally presented to the two student-athletes at the annual Awards Banquet at the league's spring meeting in Destin, Fla. on June 1.
"The H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Award is the highest honor a student-athlete can receive in the Southeastern Conference," said SEC Commissioner Mike Slive. "Sarah and Rudy have displayed dedication and commitment to success in all phases of their lives that have made them excellent selections for the McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Award. The SEC is extremely proud to honor these two student-athletes for their accomplishments."
Niswanger, a senior from Monroe, La., has a 4.0 grade point average, majoring in Kinesiology. In 2005, he was named the recipient of the Vincent DePaul Draddy Award, also known as the "Academic Heisman" by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame. He was also honored with the Wuerffel Trophy, presented to the college football player who best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement. He was also voted first-team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America in 2004 and 2005.
Niswanger was a four-year letterman for the Tigers on the offensive line. In 2005, he was voted second-team All-SEC by the league's coaches and Associated Press at center. He has helped LSU to two SEC championships (2001 and 2003) and the national championship in 2003. He won LSU's Alvin Roy Strength and Conditioning Award and the team's Butch Duhe Character and Leadership Award in 2004. Three times in his career, he was named the Tigers' Offensive Player of the Week. During his career, he started 29 games over three years at four different positions on the offensive line.
He has been named to the Chancellor's Honor Roll and the SEC Academic Honor Roll. He has been named Academic Tiger of the Year three times and was named the Tiger Athletic Foundation Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2004. He has been selected for the Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Fraternity and the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Fraternity and was the Mortar Board Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year in 2004-05. He was also named to the Athletic Director's Cup three times and a Wally Pontiff Academic Scholar at LSU twice.
The son of Joe Niswanger and Dee Holley, has been active in community service, helping evacuees during Hurricane Katrina, including organizing clothing and bedding, visiting children's hospitals, speaking at churches and youth groups. He has worked with Cub Scouts, the 4-H program and Boys Hope, a local home for boys.
"This is a tremendous honor, not only for me, but also for LSU," Niswanger said. "I'm very proud of being named the recipient of the McWhorter Award. I would like to thank the SEC for finding me deserving of receiving such a prestigious award and I would also like to thank LSU for all of the support and for putting me in a position to make this possible."
Lowe, a senior from Wynnewood, Pa., has a 3.9 grade point average, with a double major in political science and Spanish. She has been a member of the Dean's List at UF since 2002 and earned President's List honors in five out of seven semesters. She has been named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll four times and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in 2005. She was named ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District III second tea and she is a finalist for a Rhodes Scholarship and the UF Harry S. Truman Scholarship.
Lowe was a three-year captain for the Gators. She has also been selected to the University of Florida Hall of Fame Class of 2006, which is the highest recognition UF gives as an institution to a student for their role as a student leader. She was honored as the 2006 Arthur Ashe Jr., Female Sports Scholar of the Year, the recipient of the Tracy Caulkins Award, recognizing the top UF graduating senior female student-athlete, and the winner of the Outstanding Leadership Award for Undergraduate Female Graduating Seniors in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She was also the 2006 SEC Women's Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
On the court, she appeared in 115 games, earning 69 starts, totaling 376 assists while playing 3,337 minutes, ranking sixth and seventh, respectively, all-time in program history. She scored 739 points and had 176 steals in her career in addition to shooting 76.2 percent (192-of-252) from the free throw line, which is seventh in UF history.
She has been active in student government, serving as an assistant cabinet director for community involvement, and she was the women's basketball team representative to the UF Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. She was a peer leader for First Year Florida, helping freshmen on campus get acclimated to campus life and she was a host and student ambassador for the Florida Cicerones, hosting events for the school president.
The daughter of Jane Isaacs Lowe and Eugene Lowe, has also volunteered her time with the Goodwill Gators, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Gainesville and Project H.O.M.E., an after-school learning center in Philadelphia, Pa. She also served an internship with America Coming Together, a nonpartisan organization promoting student voter turnout.
The McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Award was released on April 6 to coincide with National Student-Athlete Day, which was created in 1987 by the National Consortium for Academics and Sports (NCAS) and Northeastern University's Center for the Study of Sport in Society, and presented by the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).
National Student-Athlete Day is held each April 6 to celebrate outstanding student-athletes who have achieved excellence in academics and athletics while having made significant contributions to the community. It is also a time to recognize those parents, teachers, coaches and school systems which make it possible for young people to find the balance between academics and athletics.
In addition, 11 other male and female finalists for the McWhorter SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award will receive a $5,000 scholarship.
The 11 other male recipients are: DeMeco Ryans, Football, Alabama; Eric Brown, Track and Field, Arkansas; Douglas Van Wie, Swimming and Diving, Auburn; Darren O'Day, Baseball, Florida; Ryan Schnetzer, Football, Georgia; Taylor Begley, Football, Kentucky; Sidney McLaurin, Football, Ole Miss; Jose Pinto, Tennis, Mississippi State; Tom Eklund, Tennis; South Carolina; Matthew Lapp, Cross Country, Tennessee; Tyler Harlan, Cross Country, Vanderbilt.
The 11 other female recipients are: Beth Mallory, Track and Field, Alabama; Dana McQuillan, Gymnastics, Arkansas; Angela Homan, Track and Field, Auburn; Lauren Burks, Track and Field, Georgia; Vicki Goss, Rifle, Kentucky; Stephanie Hill, Softball, LSU; Hillary Beckman, Soccer, Ole Miss; Callye Williams, Softball, Mississippi State; Tracey Richardson, Swimming and Diving, South Carolina; Betsy Brockman, Swimming and Diving, Tennessee; Erica Grimaldi, Basketball, Vanderbilt.
The SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year Awards were first presented in 1986. The honor was renamed the H. Boyd McWhorter SEC Scholar-Athletes of the Year in May 1990 to honor the former commissioner who served the conference from 1972-86.
Past recipients include: 2005 - Rob Robertson, Ole Miss (football) and Lauryn McCalley, Tennessee (swimming & diving); 2004 - Caesar Garcia, Auburn (swimming & diving) and Lauren Imwalle, Alabama (soccer); 2003 - Matt Bonner, Florida (basketball) and Kristin Sterner, Alabama (gymnastics); 2002 - Trey Dyson, South Carolina (baseball) and Tiffany Woolley, Arkansas (softball); 2001 - Scott Westerfield, Mississippi State (football) and Kim Black, Georgia (swimming); 2000 - Joey Pitts, Georgia (tennis) and Lisette Lee, LSU (golf); 1999 - Jeff Zurcher, Kentucky (football) and Jessica Field, Arkansas (volleyball); 1998 - Jeremy Jackson, Mississippi State (baseball) and Shani Abshier, South Carolina (volleyball); 1997 - Andrew DeVooght, Georgia (swimming) and Meredith Willard, Alabama (gymnastics); 1996 - Martin Nyberg, LSU (swimming) and Michelle Palmisano, Vanderbilt (basketball); 1995 - Michael Blanchard, LSU (football) and April Ecke, Mississippi State (cross country); 1994 - Peter Duitsman, South Carolina (soccer) and Tammy Newlon, Mississippi State (basketball); 1993 - Lang Wiseman, Tennessee (basketball) and Aimee York, Mississippi State (volleyball); 1992 - Jeff Laubenthal, Alabama (baseball) and Jenifer Kleyn, Auburn (volleyball); 1991 - Al Parker, Georgia (tennis) and Patty Wiegand, Tennessee (track and cross country); 1990 - Burke Masters, Mississippi State (baseball) and Janice Kerr, Florida (gymnastics); 1989 - Mikael Olander, LSU (track) and Deanne Burnett, Georgia (swimming); 1988 - Danny Hoskins, Ole Miss (football) and Linda Leith, Georgia (swimming); 1987 - Jeff Noblin, Ole Miss (football) and Julie Estin, Alabama (gymnastics); 1986 - John Young, Tennessee (track) and Virginia Diederich, Georgia (swimming).