April 10, 2017
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan Athletic Department presented the Big Ten Medal of Honor to its 2016-17 recipients at its annual Student-Athlete Recognition Celebration on Monday evening (April 10), with seniors Jake Butt (Pickerington, Ohio/Pickerington North) and Nicole Artz (Holland, Mich./West Ottawa) receiving the honor based on their proficiency in scholarship and athletics.
The Big Ten, the nation's oldest collegiate conference, commemorates the 103rd anniversary of a unique tradition -- the Big Ten Medal of Honor. The conference's most exclusive award was the first of its kind in intercollegiate athletics to recognize academic and athletic excellence. The Big Ten Medal of Honor was first awarded in 1915 to one student from the graduating class of each university who had "attained the greatest proficiency in athletics and scholastic work." Big Ten schools currently feature more than 9,500 students competing in intercollegiate athletics, but only 28 earn this prestigious award on an annual basis. In more than 100 years of the Big Ten Medal of Honor, almost 1,400 students have earned this distinction.
Football student-athlete Butt is the male recipient of the prestigious award. He is the 39th football student-athlete at Michigan to receive the honor, with the last being Rob Renes in 2000.
Butt, who graduated last winter with a degree in sociology, was an Academic All-Big Ten student-athlete in the fall and was the team's Big Ten Sportsmanship Award winner as well. On the national level, he was named the recipient of the Senior CLASS Award for Division I Football (FBS). The recognition is given to a senior that displays notable achievements in the areas of the community, classroom, character and competition, and Butt is Michigan's first-ever recipient in any sport.
A team-elected co-captain, Butt is among the most active Wolverines in the local community, working with C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, the ChadTough Foundation, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and a number of other charitable organizations.
On the field, Butt closed his career as the football program's all-time leading receiver in receptions (138) and yards (1,646) by a tight end. A two-time All-American in consecutive seasons, he also registered 11 career touchdowns, four shy of Jerame Tuman (15, 1995-98) for the program touchdown record by a tight end. He became Michigan's first-ever winner of the John Mackey Award, recognizing college football's best tight end, and is also a two-time Kwalick-Clark Big Ten Tight End of the Year award winner.
The female recipient of the award goes to Artz from women's gymnastics. She becomes the seventh women's gymnast to earn the award, joining Sarah Curtis (2011) and Katie Zurales (2013) in the last seven years.
A two-year team captain, Artz is a 2016 Academic All-American, three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, three-time NACGC/W Scholastic All-American and two-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar. Artz is on track to graduate with a degree in elementary education and is currently student teaching a third-grade class at Pattengill Elementary in Ann Arbor. She earned the Bates-Deskins Award as the top junior student-athlete at Michigan last year.
In gymnastics, Artz is among the great gymnasts to come through the Michigan program. She is a finalist for the AAI Award, given annually to the nation's top senior gymnast. She is a six-time NCAA All-American and eight-time regular-season All-American. She is the 2017 Big Ten Gymnast of the Year and twice has been named the NACGC/W Northeast Region Gymnast of the Year (2015 and 2017). She is a four-time NCAA Regional champion, six-time Big Ten champion and four-time All-Big Ten selection. She was the 2014 Big Ten Freshman of the Year and has 16 career Big Ten weekly honors.
The Big Ten Medal of Honor was the first award in intercollegiate athletics to demonstrate support for the educational emphasis placed on athletics. It was acclaimed throughout the nation, and in particular by the NCAA "as one of the significant gestures yet made in college sports." The Big Ten Medal of Honor was expanded in 1982 to include one female student-athlete from each institution.
Kornacki: Butt Looking to Change Lives (April 20, 2017)
Kornacki: Artz's Michigan Journey Simply Incredible (April 19, 2017)
Communications Contact: Ben Blevins