More than 100 of Alabama's student-athletes were inducted into 60 honoraries on campus this past academic year.
The highest honor given at this annual event is the Paul W. Bryant Award which recognizes the top male and the top female student-athlete at The University. Named after the legendary Crimson Tide football coach, the award is based upon excellence in the areas of academics, athletics, and service and leadership to The University of Alabama. Former winners of this award include Tide Head Football Coach Mike Shula (1986) and Bama Head Basketball Coach Mark Gottfried (1987), who both won the award their senior seasons at Alabama.
Football's All-American linebacker DeMeco Ryans and All-Southeastern Conference tennis player Ashley Bentley were the 2006 recipients of the Bryant Award.
Male finalists for the 2006 Bryant Award included Chuck Davis, basketball; Guido Arroyo, swimming and diving; Jeff Fedler, track and field; Emeel Salem, baseball; Sammy Struyf, tennis; and Joseph Sykora, men's golf. In addition to being strong contributing members to their team's success, Sykora, a 2005 U.S. Amateur participant, and Arroyo, both have maintained perfect 4.0 grade point averages.
The women's finalists for the Bryant Award included Leigh Alexander, soccer; Mari Bayer, gymnastics; Bridget Fuentez, volleyball; Beth Mallory, track and field; Kate Mastin, basketball; Carina Sorensen, golf; Karissa Tuthill, swimming and diving; and Stephanie VanBrakle, softball.
The women's tennis team won the athletic department's award as the female team with the highest GPA, its second straight year to win the award. Jenny Mainz's team has a 3.46 GPA. The men's swimming and diving team, with a 3.18 team GPA and coached by Eric McIlquham, won the men's team award for the highest overall team GPA.
The University also lauds its student-athletes and teams for their volunteer work in the community. The baseball team, coached by Jim Wells, won the men's team Community Outreach award for the second year in a row. Several members of the team came to the aid of Hurricane Katrina victims by driving to Mississippi and helping families clean up homes destroyed by the hurricane. Don's Staley's women's soccer team won on the women's side for participating in more than 1,000 hours of volunteer work during the academic year.
Six student-athletes were recognized for their volunteer work throughout their Alabama careers. The six who accumulated, individually, more than 2,000 hours of outreach while at Alabama include Brodie Croyle (football), DeMeco Ryans (football), Freddie Roach (football), Lance Walker (golf), Allison DeLisle (soccer) and Dana Pierce (gymnastics).
While some teams (softball and baseball, for instance) are still competing and have not yet selected Most Valuable Players, those sports with completed seasons recognized honorees. On the men's side, the MVP list included co-MVPs of men's basketball Ronald Steele and Jermareo Davidson; golfer Mark Harrell; tennis player Joseph Jung; track and field Chauncey Harris; football DeMeco Ryans; and swimming and diving Vlad Polyakov. The female team MVPs include Dee Merriweather, basketball; Jenny Suh, golf; Ashley Miles, gymnastics; Cally Morrill, soccer; Crystal Rasmussen, swimming and diving; Robin Stephenson, tennis; Beth Mallory, track and field; and Bridget Fuentez, volleyball.