HATTIESBURG, Miss. – The Southern Miss department of athletics held its annual Academic Honors program for the 2015-16 academic year, sponsored by Cintas, here Monday night at the Thad Cochran Center. Along with recognizing the Conference USA Commissioner's Honor Roll recipients (3.0-3.749 cumulative GPA) and league Academic Medal winners (3.75-4.0 cumulative GPA), the department also announced the outstanding achievements by the school's student-athletes and respective teams with various awards.
One award, the Outstanding Scholar Award, recognizes one male and female from each academic class who have displayed exemplary academic success, community service, leadership, character, and overall representation of Southern Miss Athletics and The University of Southern Mississippi. One senior is then selected as the overall outstanding scholar athlete. These awards are chosen by Academic Counselors, coaches and the Athletic Director.
The freshmen winners for the Most Outstanding Scholar Award included Samantha Papp (softball) and Reid Rials (football). Kevin Holland (men’s basketball) and Megan Brown (women's basketball) were the sophomore winners, while Cameron Tom (football) and Dana Dillistone (women’s cross country) collected the top junior awards. Elise Ames (volleyball) captured the women's senior award, while Nick Johnson (baseball) won the overall award.
Michael Gilbert of baseball and Mary Pursell of volleyball captured the Outstanding Individual Grade Point Average Award, recognizing the senior male and female with the highest cumulative GPA. Gilbert, who won the Overall award, compiled a perfect 4.00 GPA, while Pursell holds a 3.86 GPA.
Men's tennis won the male Outstanding Team Grade Point Average award with a 3.20, while women’s golf captured the women's award and overall accolade with a 3.63.
The Most Improved Team GPA Award went to the team that showed the greatest improvement in annual term GPA from the previous calendar year. The softball team captured that honor by jumping from a 3.05 GPA to a 3.35.
In addition, Eddie Davis of men's basketball, Sarah Evans of softball and D’Saveon Patrick of football garnered the Academic Counselor Awards, recognizing individuals who have demonstrated an increased commitment to academic support, class attendance, study hall, and shown an overall improvement in attitude toward academics and is based on Academic Counselor recommendations.
Dr. Jennifer Regan of Department of Biological Science earned the Faculty Appreciation Award, given to the faculty member who has shown a commitment to the academic excellence of Golden Eagle student-athletes. Nominations for this award were solicited from the student-athlete population and the award winner decided via a student-athlete poll.
The Academic Commitment Award went to women's golf coach Erika Brennan, who has demonstrated a commitment to the academic success of his or her team. This award was nominated by Academic Counselors and selected by the Director of Athletics.
The Academic Honors banquets also acknowledged the students from the Cheerleading and Southern Misses squads, who distinguished themselves in the classroom as well with a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
For cheer, the group included Marley Atkins, Tatum Barham, Emily Bateman, Rebekah Besselman, Brooke Boisseau, Taylor Brown, Emmie Cochran, Caylin Davis, Jariel Davis, Stoney Flexter, Anna Kae Frierson, Magan Hebert, Haleigh Hughes, Tiffany Johnson, Adria Mulligan, and Madison Nodruft.
Representing the Southern Misses were Brooke Dawkins, Brooke Kuhn, Tayla McKinney, Chazmyn Riley, Shakyiah Saddler, Ashley Selzer, Alexandra Spoon, Reaven Wiggins, Kaylin Wilson and Seymour Jonathan Swalley.