UCF Football To Honor 66 For Academic Achievements

Aug. 29, 2008

ORLANDO, Fla. - A total of 66 UCF football student-athletes will be wearing a special helmet decal throughout the 2008 season in recognition of being a "Scholar-Baller." The distinction was earned by either maintaining a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0, by reaching that plateau for the last semester, or by earning an undergraduate degree regardless of GPA.

With help from Kristy Belden, Associate Director of Academic Services for Student-Athletes, and her staff, the Knights have been every bit as successful in the classroom since the arrival of head coach George O'Leary as they have been on the field where the team has played for the Conference USA Championship in two of the past three seasons, earning a bowl bid each time. The team's combined cumulative grade point average presently stands at 2.969 and has stood as high as 3.035 following the 2007 summer semester.

"I am very proud of the progress our football team has made in the class room," UCF head coach George O'Leary said. "Being a student-athlete at a great school like UCF is not just about what happens on the field. This program wants to prepare its student-athletes to succeed in life after UCF whatever road they choose. Our academic staff does a great job of doing that. Having so many 3.0s on this team is a proud achievement."

Last fall, Keith Shologan was named to the 2007 ESPN The Magazine CoSIDA Academic All-America first team while he was joined on the all-district squad by teammates Rocky Ross and Sha'reff Rashad. Last year, 30 Knights earned bachelor's degrees, four of whom are still playing at UCF (Mike Lavoie, Johnell Neal, Rashad and Jason Venson). Senior place kicker Daren Daly is also included for having earned a degree from the University of Miami before enrolling at UCF this fall for graduate school.

The Scholar-Baller program was created to help bridge the gap between education and sports and was founded by UCF professor Dr. C. Keith Harrison. The program now encompasses 51 major colleges and universities, 24 of which compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision. In 2004, the Scholar-Baller programs at Arizona State, Hampton and Morgan State Universities became the first to publicly recognize the academic achievements of its student-athletes with a special patch or decal on its team uniforms and UCF is proud to join the list of schools doing so for the 2008 football season.

The 66 student-athletes who will be wearing the decal on the back of their helmets in 2008 are: Kamar Aiken, Chad Alexander, Darin Baldwin, Jordan Becker, Justin Boddie, Ian Bustillo, Mike Buxton, Rob Calabrese, Jack Carter, Nick Cattoi, Blake Clingan, Anthony Davis, Brandon Davis, Willie Gaetjens, Kevin Garvy, Jarvis Geathers, James Getsee, Billy Giovanetti, Theo Goins, Jake Goray, Michael Greco, A.J. Guyton, John Hafferty, Derrick Hallman, Rashidi Haughton, Chase Henderson, Cory Hogue, Chad Hounshell, Austin Hudson, Charley Hughlett, Brendan Kelly, Vance King, Parker Langley, Mike Lavoie, Tom Lewis, Kyle Madden, Cody Minnich, Jarien Moreland, Latavius Murray, Johnell Neal, Jamar Newsome, Adam Nissley, Zac Norris, John Oliver, Nick Pieschel, Robert Pritchard, Corey Rabazinski, Jordan Rae, Sha'reff Rashad, Jah Reid, Loren Robinson, Steven Robinson, Rocky Ross, Shaun Shaffner, Rashad Shaheed, Andy Slowik, Alex Thompson, Travis Timmons, Jason Venson, Antonio Wallace, Ash Weekley, D.J. Williams, Khymest Williams and Lawrence Young.

Tickets remain for the home-opening UCF vs. South Carolina State game presented by Metro PCS and can be purchased as part of a 2-for-1 special by calling Ticketmaster at (407) 839-3900 or by going to UCFAthletics.com.

For the latest news on the Knights, log on to UCFAthletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. The site, which also contains ticket and Golden Knights Club donor information, is also the home of UCF's new online apparel store. Also visit UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.