Kansas Athletics Holds Annual Jayhawk Senior & Scholar Banquet

April 29, 2009

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Kansas Athletics honored five graduating senior student-athletes as the Senior Athletes of the Year Wednesday night at the annual Jayhawk Senior and Scholar Athlete Banquet. The banquet, held at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Kansas City, Mo., honored its top seniors and scholars for their accomplishments in competition and in the classroom.

Paul Smyth (baseball), James Holt (football), Val Chapple (softball), Maria Mayrovich (swimming) and Nickesha Anderson (women’s track & field) received the five Senior Athletes of the Year awards.

Smyth, a business marketing major, was named to the College Baseball Foundation’s National All-Star Lineup for the week of March 24 this season. In 2007 and again in 2008, Smyth was named All-Big 12 Honorable Mention. The Atascadero, Calif., native was also an Academic All-Big 12 First Team selection in 2007 and 2008.

After a stellar football career at KU, Holt signed a free-agent contract with the San Diego Chargers of the National Football League (NFL) Sunday night. A native of Altus, Okla., Holt was an All-Big 12 First Team selection by the Associated Press in 2008, and a Second Team selection by league coaches. The history major was the 2008 Insight Bowl Defensive MVP, and was honored by KU with the Willie Pless Tackle Award and Defensive Player of the Year honor.

Chapple, a product of Overland Park, Kan., has been given the prestigious honor of being a student banner carrier for the school of education at the University of Kansas’ commencement ceremony on May 17, 2009. In 2008, the secondary physics education major was named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American Second Team, Academic All-District First Team, Academic All-Big 12 First Team and Athletic Director’s Honor Roll.

Mayrovich claimed the Big 12 Swimmer of the Week award on Jan. 28 this season. The finance major from Novorossiysk, Russia, also received the honor in November of 2007.

Anderson, a native of Hanover, Jamaica, and a member of the 2008 Jamaican Olympic team, earned two All-America honors in a record-setting 2008 outdoor season, during which she set personal bests and school records in both the 100 meters and 200 meters. The early childhood education major was the Big 12 Champion in the 60 meters during the 2008 indoor season, the first 60 meters conference champion in school history. Anderson was also named Big 12 Athlete of the Week on Feb. 19.

Danielle Herrmann (swimming) and Nick Faunce (baseball) were named the Robert Frederick Senior Scholar Athletes of the Year. Hermann was a team captain for the Jayhawks her junior year. Faunce is one of 10 finalists for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, which honors the nation’s most outstanding senior student-athlete in Division I baseball.

University Architect Warren Corman received the Lifetime Service to Athletics Award. Corman, who helped design Allen Fieldhouse in the 1950’s, has served higher education in Kansas for more than 40 years.

Kansas Athletics also recognized two student-athletes as recipients of the Dr. Prentice Gautt Big 12 Postgraduate Scholarships. Chapple, who walked away with her second honor of the night, and Russell Brorsen (football) each received the prestigious award to further continue their academic pursuits. Dr. Gautt was a longtime Big 12 and Big Eight Conference Associate Commissioner and student services’ pioneer who died in March 2005. His wife, Saundra, an associate professor at KU, presented the awards to Chapple and Brorsen.

Midway through the evening, KU football standout Darrell Stuckey and women’s golfer Alyssa Rainbolt presented outgoing University of Kansas Chancellor Robert Hemenway with a letter jacket for his years of service to the university and Kansas Athletics.

In addition to honoring KU’s student-athletes, the Del Shankel Teaching Excellence award, voted on by members of KU’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, was presented to psychology professor Stephen Ilardi. Finalists for the honor included Ilardi, Kerry Benson (journalism), Karen Jorgensen (education), Bernie Kish (health, sport & exercise science) and Karenbeth Zacharias (humanities and western civilization).