Walter Byers Scholarship

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The Walter Byers Scholar (also known as Walter Byers Scholarship, and Walter Byers Postgraduate Scholarship) program is a scholarship program that recognizes the top male and female student-athlete in NCAA sports and that is awarded annually by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). It is considered[by whom?] to be the NCAA's highest academic award.[1][2] The NCAA initiated the Walter Byers Scholarship program in 1988 in recognition of the service of Walter Byers. The award is a postgraduate scholarship program designed to encourage excellence in academic performance by student-athletes. The recipients each year are the one male and one female student-athlete who has combined the best elements of mind and body to achieve national distinction for his or her achievements, and who promises to be a future leader in his or her chosen field of career service. Winners receive scholarships for postgraduate study.[3]


As of 2011, the stipend for each Byers Scholarship was $24,000 for an academic year.[4] The scholarship amount is adjusted for the cost of living. The grant may be renewed for a second year based on academic progress. Financial need is not a factor in the granting of these scholarships. United States citizenship is not required to satisfy eligibility requirements. Awards from other sources will not disqualify an applicant, except that an awardee may not use more than one NCAA postgraduate scholarship.[3] The Walter Byers Postgraduate Scholarship Program is separate and distinct from the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship Program, which provides annual awards with smaller stipends.[3]

The five-person Walter Byers Scholarship Committee, established by the NCAA membership and appointed by the NCAA Divisions I, II and III Management Councils, administers the program. The committee membership is required to include at least one man and one woman, at least one member from each division and subdivision of Division I, and one member each from Division II and Division III.[5]

Among the most recognized for post-athletic career accomplishments are Randal Pinkett and Rob Pelinka. Of the winners the one most notable for having gone professional in his or her sport is National Football League veteran Rob Zatechka, who later went on to medical school.[6]

Some winners have won other notable awards. The following lists dual winners of certain awards:


The historical winners are as follows:[7]

Year Male Female
Athlete Sport School Athlete Sport School
1989 Richard Hall Basketball Ball State University Regina Cavanagh Track and field Rice University
1990 Dean Smith Basketball University of Maine Linda Popovich Volleyball Bowling Green State University
1991 J. David Brown Track and field
Cross country
University of Iowa Marie Roethlisberger Gymnastics University of Minnesota
1992 David Honea Cross country North Carolina State University Sigall Kassutto Gymnastics University of California, Berkeley
1993 Rob Pelinka Basketball University of Michigan Sheryl Klemme Basketball Saint Joseph's College (Indiana)
1994 Randal Pinkett Track and field Rutgers University Christa Gannon Basketball University of California, Santa Barbara
1995 Robert Zatechka Football University of Nebraska–Lincoln Carla Ainsworth Swimming Kenyon College
1996 Christopher Palmer Football St. John's University (Minnesota) Tracey Holmes Golf University of Kentucky
1997 Scott Keane Track and field University of Cincinnati Marya Morusiewicz Volleyball Barry University
1998 Robert "Brad" Gray Football Massachusetts Institute of Technology Marsha Harris Basketball New York University
1999 Samuel "Calvin" Thigpen Track and field
Cross country
University of Mississippi Gladys Ganiel Track and field
Cross country
Providence College
2000 Matthew Busbee Swimming Auburn University Anna Hallbergson Tennis Barry University
2001 Bradley Henderson Basketball University of Chicago Kimberly Black Swimming University of Georgia
2002 Kyle Eash Football
Track and field
Illinois Wesleyan University Claudia Veritas Lacrosse Wellesley College
2003 McLain "Mac" Schneider Football University of North Dakota Natalie Halbach Gymnastics University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
2004 Joaquin Zalacain Tennis University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Corrin Drakulich Track and field University of Georgia
2005 Matthew Gunn Track and field
Cross country
University of Arkansas Sarah Dance Swimming Truman State University
2006 Bryan Norrington Track and field Colorado College Annie Bersagel Track and field
Cross country
Wake Forest University
2007 Dane Todd Football University of Nebraska–Lincoln Katie Kingsbury Tennis Washington and Lee University
2008 Dylan Carney Gymnastics Stanford University Brenna Burns Track and field
Cross country
Davidson College
2009 Craig Sheedy Diving University of Arizona Amy Massey Soccer University of Southern California
2010 Joshua Mahoney Football University of Northern Iowa Katherine Theisen Track and field
Cross country
University of St. Thomas
2011 J. David Gatz Swimming Ohio Wesleyan University Jessica Pixlar Track and field
Cross country
Seattle Pacific University
2012 Miles Batty Track and field
Cross Country
Brigham Young University Kelsey Ward Swimming Drury University
2013 Matt Horn Soccer Winthrop University Alexa Duling Track and field University of South Dakota
2014 Kyle Boden Football Emory and Henry College Karenee Demery Soccer California State University, Stanislaus
2015 Tofey James "T.J." Leon IV Swimming Auburn University Lucinda Kauffman Field Hockey Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania
2016 Mitchell Black Track and Field Tufts University Katherine Riojas Soccer University of Tulsa
2017 George Bugarinovic Basketball Johns Hopkins University Nandini Mehta Soccer Northwestern University
2018 Michael Seward Hockey Harvard University Jennifer Carmichael Track and Field University of Oklahoma
2019 Derek Soled Fencing Yale University Rachael Acker Swimming University of California, Berkeley
2020 Xavier Gonzalez Tennis Harvard University Kayla Leland Cross Country
Track and Field
Whitworth University
2021 Ivo Cerda Soccer University of Michigan Asia Seidt Swimming University of Kentucky

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Two Track and Field Student-Athletes Earn NCAA's Highest Academic Award". The National Collegiate Athletic Association. May 11, 2006. Retrieved January 25, 2008.
  2. ^ "NCAA Highest Academic Honor Awarded to Tennis and Football Student-Athletes". The National Collegiate Athletic Association. May 1, 2006. Retrieved January 25, 2008.
  3. ^ a b c "Walter Byers Postgraduate Scholarship Program". National Collegiate Athletic Association. Retrieved January 25, 2008.
  4. ^ Lawrence, Marta (April 29, 2011). "Gatz, Pixler win Byers Scholarships: Ohio Wesleyan swimmer, SPU runner win '11 honors". National Collegiate Athletic Association. Retrieved September 8, 2011.
  5. ^ "Walter Byers Scholarship Committee". National Collegiate Athletic Association. Retrieved January 25, 2008.
  6. ^ "Medical students unveil Match Day destinations". University of Nebraska Medical Center. March 19, 2004. Retrieved January 26, 2008.
  7. ^ "Previous Walter Byers Scholars". The National Collegiate Athletic Association. Retrieved January 25, 2008.

External links[edit]