Big 10 Celebrates Medal Of Honor Centennial

Usually this space is reserved for the business of sports. Today I am making an exception. Because this year, the Big 10 Conference is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Big Ten Medal of Honor. The award deserves this space because too often these days the only off-the-field news athletes get is when they do some thing wrong. But there  are plenty of athletes who the right thing most of the time and serve as great examples to us all.

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.” It was the first award in intercollegiate athletics to demonstrate support for the educational emphasis placed on athletics and was acclaimed throughout the nation, and in particular by the NCAA “as one of the significant gestures yet made in college sports.”

In 1914, Robert Tait McKenzie, an internationally renowned sculptor, physician and educator, was commissioned by the conference to create the Big Ten Medal of Honor. He created over 200 works of art that can be seen around the world today, including his most famous plaque – the three hurdlers known as the “Joy of Effort”– just three years before designing the medal. As part of his design, the Big Ten Medal of Honor includes the Latin phrase “Mens fervida in corpore lacertoso”, meaning “a fervent mind in a vigorous body.” On the reverse side it includes the student-athlete’s name, the inscription “For Scholarship and Athletic Prowess” and the names of each of the institutions in the conference. These unique elements remain a part of the Big Ten Medal of Honor, and connect all winners to the storied history of this award.

The 12 institutions of the Big Ten Conference feature more than 8,200 student-athletes and only 24 of those individuals are recognized each year with the Big Ten Medal of Honor. In the 99 years of the Medal of Honor, over 1,300 student-athletes have earned this distinction. The Big Ten Medal of Honor was expanded in 1982 to include one female student-athlete from each institution. In 2014, the conference will celebrate the 100th anniversary of this prestigious award.

Below is a small sampling of prominent Big Ten Medal of Honor Winners who have made significant contributions in the fields of medicine, science, business, law, philanthropy and others since graduating from a Big Ten university. For a complete list of Big Ten Medal of Honor Winners, go to


1973 – Keith D. Nosbusch, Wisconsin 1974 – Steven A. Craig, Northwestern 1988 – Tina Basle, Michigan


1953 – John D. Wilson, Michigan State

1983 – Melanie Weaver (Barnett), Michigan 1991 – Joy Jordan, Wisconsin


1980 – George Foussianes, Michigan 1982 – Randy Conte, Illinois

2009 – Gwen Jorgensen, Wisconsin


1953 – Clive Follmer, Illinois 1997 – Shareen Luze, Michigan 2006 – Jessica Ring, Wisconsin


1955 – Everett Grandelius, Michigan State 1972 – Robert A. Ford, Purdue

1999 – Stephanie White, Purdue


1971 – Richard A. Rydze, Michigan 1979 – Tim Gutshall, Iowa

1993 – Mindy Gehrs, Michigan 2001 – Jennifer Hsia, Indiana


1975 – Lawrence G. Burton, Jr., Purdue 2005 – Joanna Lohman, Penn State


1962 – Joel. D. Novak, Iowa 1996 – Jay Riemersma, Michigan


1928 – Norman Gabel, Michigan 1954 – Richard E. Balzhiser, Michigan 1992 – Mike Hopkins, Illinois

2012 – Ashley Miller, Nebraska


1932 – John Wooden, Purdue

1963 – Jerry Lucas, Ohio State

1977 – Tony Dungy, Minnesota 1986 – Joe Girardi, Northwestern 1997 – Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern 2001 – Drew Brees, Purdue


1942 – David M. Nelson, Michigan

1964 – George (Pete) Gent, Michigan State


1973-KeithD.N osbusch,W isconsin(football)

Chairman and CEO of Rockwell Automation, appointed February 2004 1974-StevenA.Craig, Northwestern (football)

Director of Human Resources for BP

Source: Forbes Business

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