Auburn’s Garcia Receives H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Award; Announcement Coincides with National Student-Athlete Day

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., April 6. AUBURN University diver Caesar Garcia and University of Alabama soccer player Lauren Imwalle have been named recipients of the 2003-2004 H. Boyd McWhorter Southeastern Conference Scholar-Athletes of the Year Award, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive announced today. The awards will be formally presented to the two student-athletes at the annual Awards Banquet at the league's spring meeting in Destin, Fla. on June 3.

The two were chosen by a committee of Faculty Athletics Representatives from SEC universities. Each will receive a $10,000 post-graduate scholarship, provided by ALLTEL.

"The H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Award is the highest honor a student-athlete can receive in the Southeastern Conference," said SEC Commissioner Mike Slive. "Throughout their intercollegiate athletic and academic careers, Lauren and Caesar have displayed dedication and commitment that has made them excellent selections for the McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Award. They have been leaders on campus, in their communities and on their sports squads and have been tremendous representatives for their institutions, the Southeastern Conference and the ideals of intercollegiate athletics. The SEC and ALLTEL are extremely proud to honor these two student-athletes for their accomplishments."

Garcia, a senior from Baton Rouge, La., is majoring in Mechanical Engineering. During the 2002-03 season, Garcia was named USA Diving's Sportsman of the Year. He placed fifth at the World University Games and won the synchronized platform event at the Speedo National Diving Championships. He earned All-America honors in the 3-meter and honorable mention All-America honors in the 1-meter at the 2003 NCAA Championships.

Garcia was a first-team CoSIDA Academic All-America selection in 2003 and was named to Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities. He is a three-time Academic Top Tiger and Dean's List student and a two-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll. In 2003, he was named the Outstanding Mechanical Engineering Student of the Year at Auburn.

In helping Auburn to its second straight NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championship, Garcia led the field of divers with 46 points in the meet as he rounded out his collegiate career defending his title in the platform, becoming the first person ever to repeat in back-to-back years. Garcia's score of 635.05 was his highest in his NCAA career as he won the event last season with a score of 575.80.

The son of Caesar and Jeanne Garcia, Caesar plans on attending graduate school furthering his education in engineering, studying system controls.

The McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Award is being released to coincide with National Student-Athlete Day, which was created in 1987 by the National Consortium for Academics and Sports (NCAS) and Northeastern University's Center for the Study of Sport in Society, and presented by the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).

National Student-Athlete Day is held each April 6 to celebrate outstanding student-athletes who have achieved excellence in academics and athletics while having made significant contributions to the community. It is also a time to recognize those parents, teachers, coaches and school systems which make it possible for young people to find the balance between academics and athletics.

In addition, 11 other male and female finalists for the McWhorter SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award will receive a $5,000 scholarship, made possible by funds provided by ALLTEL.

The 11 other male recipients are: Brian Rohrer, Track and Field, Alabama; Nathan Price, Track and Field, Arkansas; Scott Schultz, Swimming and Diving, Florida; Ryan Hybl, Golf, Georgia; Christopher Austin, Soccer, Kentucky; Rodney Reed, Football, LSU; Chad Pilcher, Baseball/Football, Ole Miss; Brent Smith, Football, Mississippi State; Chris Steddum, Track and Field, South Carolina; Evan Nylander, Swimming and Diving, Tennessee; John Cote, Track and Field, Vanderbilt.

The 11 other female recipients are: Jessica Johnson, Track and Field, Arkansas; Becky Short, Swimming and Diving, Auburn; Megan McMillan, Soccer, Florida; Corrin Drakulich, Track and Field, Georgia; Liz McCaslin, Volleyball, Kentucky; Devon Day, Golf, LSU; Tywanna Inmon, Basketball, Ole Miss; Kate Jaspers, Softball, Mississippi State; Amber Curtis, Softball, South Carolina; Jaime Sanger, Swimming and Diving, Tennessee; Kendra Sasa, Soccer, Vanderbilt.

The SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year Awards were first presented in 1986. The honor was renamed the H. Boyd McWhorter SEC Scholar-Athletes of the Year in May 1990 to honor the former commissioner who served the conference from 1972-86.

Past recipients include: 2003 – Matt Bonner, Florida (basketball) and Kristin Sterner, Alabama (gymnastics); 2002 * Trey Dyson, South Carolina (baseball) and Tiffany Woolley, Arkansas (softball); 2001 – Scott Westerfield, Mississippi State (football) and Kim Black, Georgia (swimming); 2000 – Joey Pitts, Georgia (tennis) and Lisette Lee, LSU (golf); 1999 – Jeff Zurcher, Kentucky (football) and Jessica Field, Arkansas (volleyball); 1998 – Jeremy Jackson, Mississippi State (baseball) and Shani Abshier, South Carolina (volleyball); 1997 – Andrew DeVooght, Georgia (swimming) and Meredith Willard, Alabama (gymnastics); 1996 – Martin Nyberg, LSU (swimming) and Michelle Palmisano, Vanderbilt (basketball); 1995 – Michael Blanchard, LSU (football) and April Ecke, Mississippi State (cross country); 1994 – Peter Duitsman, South Carolina (soccer) and Tammy Newlon, Mississippi State (basketball); 1993 – Lang Wiseman, Tennessee (basketball) and Aimee York, Mississippi State (volleyball); 1992 – Jeff Laubenthal, Alabama (baseball) and Jenifer Kleyn, Auburn (volleyball); 1991 – Al Parker, Georgia (tennis) and Patty Wiegand, Tennessee (track and cross country); 1990 – Burke Masters, Mississippi State (baseball) and Janice Kerr, Florida (gymnastics); 1989 – Mikael Olander, LSU (track) and Deanne Burnett, Georgia (swimming); 1988 – Danny Hoskins, Ole Miss (football) and Linda Leith, Georgia (swimming); 1987 – Jeff Noblin, Ole Miss (football) and Julie Estin, Alabama (gymnastics); 1986 * John Young, Tennessee (track) and Virginia Diederich, Georgia (swimming).

The 2003-04 SEC Community Service Male and Female Student-Athlete Award recipients will be announced on Thursday, April 8.

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