12 UB Fall Athletes Earn MAC Distinguished Scholar Athlete Recognition

12 UB Fall Athletes Earn MAC Distinguished Scholar Athlete Recognition

CLEVELAND, OH - The Mid-American Conference announced Friday the Distinguished Scholar Athletes from the seven fall sports during this 2014-15 academic season. Twelve University at Buffalo, The State University of New York student-athletes were voted by faculty athletic representatives at MAC institutions representing the ‘best of the best’ from each sports Academic All-MAC Teams.

"This is another well-deserved accolade for our student-athletes," said Director of Athletics Danny White. "The State University of New York at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities, this elite academic organization allows our student-athletes the ability to get one of the finest education experiences in the country. It's great to see our student-athletes have not only excelled on the field of play, but also in the classroom."

Leading the way for the Bulls was the women's soccer program who had a department-best five representatives, Jackie Hall, Kassidy Kidd, Courtney Mann, Andrea Niper and Katie Roberts on the MAC Distinguished Scholar Athletes list. The UB football team had an impressive four members make the team, Tyler Grassman, Jake Silas, Lee Skinner and Ron Willoughby. Also making the list were Barrett Kemp and Corinne Birchard of cross country and Megan Lipski of volleyball.

Hall, a communications major with a 3.625 GPA, had an outstanding season for the Bulls after making a position change to the center back position. She was the first Bull in Division I history to be named an All-American and she also earned Scholar All-American accolades following a junior campaign that saw Hall lead UB to their first-ever NCAA Tournament.

Kidd, a exercise science major with a 3.773 GPA, played at a high level all year long for the Bulls as she finished the season with a career-high two goals and four assists for eight points. The Niagara Falls, Ontario native started 21 of 22 games as a junior and ranked third on the team with 47 shots. A key component in the midfield, Kidd helped guide UB to their first-ever MAC regular season and tournament Championships.

Mann, a health and human services major with a 3.638 GPA, was the team leader and key cog in the midfield defense for the Bulls during their historic run to the NCAA Tournament. The midfielder started all 22 games for UB while being relied upon to shutdown the opposing teams best player game in and game out. Mann stepped up and earned first team All-MAC accolades and compiled a career-best two assists as a senior.

Niper, a economics major with a 3.905 GPA, came on at the end of the year and turned out to be a big time contributor off the bench for the Bulls down the stretch. Niper scored arguably the biggest goal in UB women's soccer history in the MAC semifinals against Ball State as she netted a double overtime game-winner from 25 yards out to send the Bulls to the MAC final. Niper appeared in all 22 matches and made one start while finishing the season with two goals, both of which in the MAC tournament.

Roberts, a psychology major with a 3.204 GPA, adds one more award to her collection after a magical senior campaign which saw her earn MAC Offensive Player of the Year accolades, the first in program history. The Homerville, Ohio native was dominant in the offensive third as she led the conference in scoring with 12 goals and three assists on the year. The 27 points and six game-winning markers were career-highs for Roberts. She closed out her stellar UB career with 23 goals, ranking eighth in program history, and 54 points, ranking ninth in program history.

Silas, a computer engineering major with a 3.42 grade point average, started all 11 games at left tackle for a UB offense that averaged 178.6 yards rushing per game and an FBS-era record 32.3 points per game. He was also named to the All-MAC Second Team in 2014.

Skinner, who was also a third-team All-MAC selection in 2014, was a business administration major with a 3.32 grade point average. He started all 11 games at linebacker and led the team in tackles with 96 and ranked second in tackles for loss (6.5) and sacks (3.5). He was a semifinalist for the Campbell Trophy, considered by many to be the "Academic Heisman."

Grassman is a repeat winner as the UB punter also made the team last season. A business administration major with a 3.71 GPA, Grassman was named to the Capital One Academic All-District Team in November. He registered 50 punts on the season, averaging a career-best 40.7 yards per punt. He had 16 punts downed inside the 20 and six of 50 yards or more. Of his 50 punts on the season, opponents gained only 32 total return yards.

Willoughby had a breakout season for the Bulls in 2014. The social science interdisciplinary major with a 3.30 GPA, was also an All-MAC Third Team selection. He was the Bulls top receiver with 50 catches for 771 yards and nine touchdowns. He averaged 15.4 yards per catch and 70.1 yards per game on the season. Willoughby's nine touchdown receptions ranked third in the MAC.

Kemp ended the season strong, leading the Bulls to a 14th-place finish, a nine-place improvement from a season ago, at the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships. Kemp clocked a team-best 31:26.03 10K to place 47th out of 262 runners at regionals. He twice finished second for the Bulls, including a 25:03 8K at the MAC Championships that earned him an 18th-place finish out of 80 competitors. Kemp, a biomedical sciences major, has a 3.83 GPA.

Birchard, abiological sciences major with a 3.818 GPA, led the Bulls in four of the six races in which she competed in 2014, including the MAC Championships and the NCAA Northeast Regional. She placed 27th out of 104 runners with a 6K time of 21:41 at the MAC Championships helping the Bulls to third third-straight 7th-place finish. She earned a 98th-place finish of 22:03.24 in a field of 275 runners at regionals.

Lipski, a business major with a 3.546 GPA, saw action in all 32 matches, averaging 2.28 kills per set.  She finished in double figures in kills 11 times, including 19 kills at South Florida.  Lipski had a stretch of four straight matches in double figures, finishing with 13 kills and just one error at Akron and added 13 kills and just two errors against Ball State.  She recorded 14 kills at Northern Illinois and had eight double-doubles on the year as she finished second on the team in digs.  She had 19 digs against Ball State.

Later this spring, the MAC will announce the Distinguished Scholar Athletes from the remaining 16 winter and spring sports sponsored by the Conference.

The Distinguished Scholar Athlete is a first-year award given to student-athletes who have excelled in athletics and academics. Following each season from the fall sports schedule, any student-athlete with a 3.20 GPA and participation in at least 50 percent of the contests was automatically named to the previously announced Academic All-MAC Team from each sport. Also, first-year students and junior college transfers in their first year of residence were not eligible for the award.