ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The Big Ten, the nation's oldest collegiate conference, commemorates the 101st anniversary of a very unique tradition, the awarding of the Big Ten Medal of Honor at each of the 14 institutions across the league. The University of Michigan Athletic Department presented the 2014-15 recipients at its annual Student-Athlete Recognition Celebration on Tuesday evening (April 14), with seniors Nicole Elmblad (St. Ignace, Mich./LaSalle) and Justin Glanda (Rochester Hills, Mich./Cranbrook Kingswood) receiving the honor based on their proficiency in scholarship and athletics.
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-athlete from the graduating class of each university who had "attained the greatest proficiency in athletics and scholastic work." Big Ten schools currently feature almost 9,500 student-athletes, but only 28 earn this prestigious award on an annual basis. In the 100 years of the Medal of Honor, almost 1,400 student-athletes have earned this distinction.
The female recipient of the award is Nicole Elmblad from the women's basketball program. She is just the second Michigan women's basketball player to earn the award, joining Diane Dietz, who was the inaugural women's winner at Michigan in 1982. A two-time captain and starter for the Wolverines, Elmblad was a two-time Academic All-American (2014 second team, 2015 third team), three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and a two-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar. Elmblad will complete her degree in biopsychology, cognition and neuroscience at the end of this month and plans to attend medical school.
On the court, Elmblad started all 35 games for the Maize and Blue this season, averaging 7.8 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. She was named to the WNIT all-tournament team and will leave as Michigan as the leader in games played with 133. Her class holds the Michigan record for wins in a career (82) and is the only class to record at least 20 wins in all four seasons.
Men's swimming and diving team member Justin Glanda is the male recipient of the prestigious award. Glanda is a 4.0 student-athlete who will graduate in May with a business administration degree from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business. He is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and two-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar and twice earned College Swimming Coaches Association of America Scholar All-America accolades.
While succeeding in the classroom, Glanda also excelled in the water as a senior captain for the Wolverines. During his four-year career, he helped the men's team win four consecutive Big Ten titles and to four consecutive top-five finishes at the NCAA Championships, including the 2013 national championship. Glanda graduates as a four-time NCAA All-American and four-time Big Ten champion. He is the 14th men's swimmer to receive the Big Ten Medal of Honor and the third in the past four years.
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.
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