UC Athletics Closes Year with All-Sports Banquet

June 7, 2008

CINCINNATI--The University of Cincinnati Department of Athletics named its Athletes of the Year, Scholar-Athletes of the Year, top senior student-athletes, Coach of the Year, and Team of the Year at its annual All-Sports Banquet, held in Fifth Third Arena.


Senior Monica Hundley, one of Cincinnati's best hurdler's in school history, was named Female Athlete of the Year. Already the school record holder in the hurdles coming into this year, Hundley broke her own school marks a combined seven times during indoor and outdoor track this season, helping her qualify NCAA Regionals for the second year in a row. At this year's BIG EAST Indoor Championships, Hundley made UC history capturing the school's first league title in the 60-meter hurdles and this past month finished second in the 100-meter hurdles at the BIG EAST Outdoor Championships. In total she qualified for six conference events this year between the indoor and outdoor championships and was the team's top scorer.


Voting for the Male Athlete of the Year ended in a tie and was award to both senior quarterback Ben Mauk and senior track star Antione Drakeford.


Drakeford was named the BIG EAST Track Athlete of the Year in 2008 after capturing the BIG EAST Championship in the 400-meter dash by breaking a 30-year old UC record in the event. He went on to earn another BIG EAST gold as the second leg of the 4x100 relay team. In total he finished the BIG EAST Championships with four top eight finishes.


Mauk earned his share of the Athlete of the Year Award after supplanting his name in the UC record books as one of the most prolific passers in school history. In 13 games, Mauk tossed a school-record 31 touchdowns and led the UC offense to new school records for points, touchdowns, and passing scores. He finished the year in the top five in five single-season categories.


The Topcat Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards are awarded to the top graduating female and male student-athlete who have attained the highest University GPA during their academic career at UC.


The Female Scholar-Athlete Award went to women's basketball player Jill Stephens. Stephens, the team's most valuable player last season, scoring 13 points and pulling down over nine rebounds a night, put in an impressive effort in the classroom as well, earning the BIG EAST Women's Basketball Female Athlete of the Year and a post-graduate scholarship. Stephens will use her scholarship this fall as a graduate student after graduating from the College of Allied Health in three years as a Communication Science and disorders major. She will use her senior year of eligibility to start graduate school this summer in audiology.


Junior reliever Evan Sanford of the baseball team earned the Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award. A finance major with emphasis in real estate, Sanford will be graduating in the June commencement and will use his fifth year of eligibility not only help the Bearcats baseball team, but also to pursue another degree in information technology.


The most prestigious awards given to a senior student-athlete are the Jimmy Nippert (men) and Helen Norman Smith (women) Awards. They are presented annually to the senior student-athletes who demonstrate excellence in three important areas: 1.) academics; 2.) athletics; and 3.) community service.


The Jimmy Nippert Award was given to Mauk, who earlier claimed a share of the Male Athlete of the Year honor. Athletically, he was named the football team's Most Valuable Player, leading the squad to a school-record 10 wins and a Papajohns.com Bowl championship. As an athlete, Mauk battled through a great deal of personal adversity with injuries, but never forgot to give back, speaking to several high schools throughout the Tri-State this year and finding time to work with UC Athletes in Action and Kids Outreach.


Hundley also picked up her second award of the event, earning the Helen Norman Smith Award. Off the track, she was just as successful in her career, earning BIG EAST Academic All-Star recognition three times and making the Dean's list each year she attended UC. Outside of school, Hundley took time to give back as a member of Athletes in Action and as a volunteer for Operation School Bell at her church.


During his 12th year at the helm of UC baseball, Brian Cleary made Cincinnati history and was named the department's Coach of the Year. Cleary led the Bearcats to a program-record 39 wins, a second-place finish in the BIG EAST regular-season and its first appearance in the BIG EAST Championship game. Cleary and his staff also developed six all-BIG EAST performers in 2008, including all-American and Co-BIG EAST Player of the Year Josh Harrison and four Major League Baseball Draft picks.


The 2008 UC Team of the Year went to football. In his first full season as head coach, 2007 BIG EAST head coach Brian Kelly guided the Bearcats to a six-game winning streak to start the year, a 10-3 record, and the 2007 Papajohns.com Bowl Championship. The 10 wins tied the school record for victories in a season and pushed UC to a No. 17 ranking in the final Associated Press Poll - its highest finish in a postseason ranking.


2008 University of Cincinnati All-Sports Banquet Award Winners

Female Athlete of the Year: Monica Hundley, Track and Field

Male Athlete of the Year: Antione Drakeford, Track and Field; Ben Mauk, Football

Female Topcat Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Jill Stephens, Women's Basketball

Male Topcat Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Evan Sanford, Baseball

Helen Norman Smith Award: Monica Hundley, Track and Field

Jimmy Nippert Award: Ben Mauk, Football

Coach of the Year: Brian Cleary, Baseball

Team of the Year: Football