June 8, 2009
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - A pair of UAB student-athletes - men's soccer player Wes Johnson and baseball's James Oliver - have earned Conference USA Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors in their respective sports, league commissioner Britton Banowsky announced Monday.
C-USA Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards are presented to the top student-athletes in each conference-sponsored sport. The awards are based on academic achievement, athletic achievement and service.
Nine of C-USA's 12 schools produced at least one scholar-athlete winner. UAB was one of six league institutions that had multiple honorees, with Rice leading the way with four selections.
Johnson has been a standout for the Blazer men's soccer team, both on and off the field. A native of Lilburn, Ga., he has an overall GPA of 3.51 and is double majoring in foreign language and biology. He is a four-time member of the C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll and serves as the President of UAB's Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC).
He was recognized for his academic success this past fall by being selected to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District IV men's soccer first team by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).
"I am certainly proud of everything Wes has accomplished while at UAB," UAB men's soccer coach Mike Getman said. "He is a terrific athlete, student and person and I am proud of the way he has represented the University and our program during the course of his career."
On the field, Johnson started 14 of UAB's 19 games as a senior in 2008 and started 35 of his 37 games played during his career. He finished the campaign fifth in the league with a 1.27 goals against average, ranked seventh in shutouts with two and was listed eighth in saves with 53. Johnson finished his career third in school history in shutouts with eight.
Johnson's award marks the third time in the last five years a men's soccer player has earned the distinction. Former Blazer Jeremy Drake
was awarded the C-USA Men's Soccer Scolar Athlete of the Year in 2004, while Lukasz Kwapisz
earned the honor in 2004.
"I have been very pleased with the academic effort from all our players," Getman said. "We have had a consistent performance on the field and in the classroom for a long time. That has played a big role in the success of this program over the years."
A senior pitcher for UAB's baseball team, Oliver is a two-time member of the C-USA All-Academic baseball team and graduated last month with a 3.85 overall GPA in biology. He has maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA at UAB since transferring from Birmingham-Southern and will begin medical school at UAB in July.
Oliver earned Presidential Honors during each of his semesters at UAB and, earlier this season, was named as one of 30 nationwide candidates for the Lowe's Senior Class Award. He is a member of the Alpha Epsilon Delta Pre-Health Society, the Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society and the National Student-Athlete Honor Society. In addition, he has earned a spot on the C-USA Commissioner's honor roll on two occasions and has earned the league's Academic Medal twice.
"I had the privilege and honor of coaching James for five years," UAB baseball coach Brian Shoop said. "He is what every parent hopes their son turns out to be. He was tough and competitive on the field. Off the field, he was one of the nicest young men you would ever meet and spent countless hours reading to children in the hospital with the 'Healing Words' service group at UAB."
Oliver hails from Vestavia Hills, Ala. and helped the Blazers to a 31-26 (11-12 C-USA) record in 2009. He pitched in 15 games this past season, with nine starts on the mound. He logged 46.0 innings and had a record of 2-3. Oliver held his opponents to a batting average of .269 and ranks in the top 10 in C-USA with three pickoffs.
"James will be a great doctor and an even better husband and father," Shoop said. "He will make a significant positive impact in our community and will be a tremendous alumnus for UAB. We are so proud of James. He is a great representative for our conference and our school."