Three KU Student-Athletes Receive Big 12's Highest Academic Honor

March 6, 2012

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Three University of Kansas student-athletes are among the winners of the Dr. Gerald Lage award, the Big 12 Conference’s highest academic honor.

Kansas’ honorees included Sarah Hettenbach, a senior on the swimming and diving team, and an exercise science major; Quinn Mecham, a senior on the football team and a business major, and Zach Zarda, a senior on the men’s track and field team, and a finance and supply chain management major.

030612aaa_458_5599078.jpegHettenbach, a senior from Abilene, Kan., has been a non-scholarship athlete during her four years in the pool for KU. The freestyler was named one of three captains of her team prior to the 2011-12 season and provided solid leadership for her teammates throughout the year. She finished her collegiate swim career at the Big 12 Championships last month, where she had a lifetime best performance in the 50 free. She is a numerous Big 12 honor roll selection and, in 2010-11, was a member of the 2010-11 Academic All-Big 12 Team.


Mecham, who was an Academic All-Big 12 First Team selection in 2011, completed 11-of-18 passes for 113 yards and threw two TDs as KU’s primary back-up quarterback. The Provo, Utah, native started four games as a junior in 2010. That year he set school records for consecutive pass completions with 19 (in a two-game span) and in a single game with 17 vs. Colorado. He threw for 252 yards and two touchdowns while leading Kansas to a 28-point fourth quarter comeback win against Colorado. In six games he was 61 of 102 for 554 yards and four touchdowns with five interceptions in 2010. Mecham is majoring in business.


Zarda, a senior out of Shawnee, Kan., is a four-year letterwinner for the men’s track and field team. The finance and supply chain management major has competed at the Big 12 Indoor or Outdoor Championships three of his four years while in Lawrence and was the KU men’s top finisher in two races last season for cross country. Zarda has been named to the All-Academic Big 12 first team a combined three times for track and cross country.

The honor, in its second year, is in memory of Lage, who served as the OSU faculty athletics representative with the NCAA and the Big Eight/Big 12 Conference from 1983 until his death in 2007. He was the chairman on three occasions, in 1985-86, 1993-94 and most recently in 2003-04.

To be eligible for the award, student-athletes must have lettered at least once in their career while maintaining residence at their institution for at least one academic year. The honoree, who can be recognized only once, should have 100 hours of earned credit with a cumulative grade-point average of 3.80 at the time of the nomination.

The Dr. Gerald Lage award winners will receive public recognition at the Phillips 66 Big 12 Basketball Championships this week.