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NCAA honors 2016 Silver Anniversary Award winners

Former student-athletes will receive awards at 2016 NCAA Convention

The NCAA will recognize six former student-athletes with the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award for their collegiate and professional achievements.

The Silver Anniversary Award annually recognizes distinguished individuals on the 25th anniversary of the conclusion of their college athletics careers. Representatives of NCAA member schools and conferences, along with a panel of former student-athletes, select each year’s recipients.

The 2016 recipients are Abby Cheng, Chris Howard, Joé Juneau, Russell Maryland, Dikembe Mutombo, and Steve Smith. The NCAA will recognize the honorees at the Honors Celebration during the 2016 NCAA Convention on Jan. 15 in San Antonio.

Abby Cheng

School: Arkansas State University
Major: Biological sciences
Sport: Women’s volleyball

Abby Cheng, a former Arkansas State University volleyball standout, helped lead her team to a school-record 43 wins in 1989. She still ranks sixth in career blocks at Arkansas State, and holds fourth and fifth on the single-season record list for blocks with 219 as a senior and 206 as a junior. The biological sciences major graduated in 1991 and went on to earn her master’s degree from the University of San Francisco in biological sciences and her Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University, where her graduate work focused on explaining the mechanisms of left-right axis formation during vertebrate embryonic development. Cheng was awarded the Clifford and Evelyn Cherry Fellowship from the American Heart Association for research on blood vessel development. After leaving the research field, Cheng undertook support for the Science Club for Girls, a nonprofit whose mission is to foster excitement, confidence and literacy in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, particularly those from underrepresented communities. She currently serves as the volunteer program manager, leading volunteer recruitment, orientation, engagement and training. In addition to her nonprofit work, Cheng also serves as a mentor for the Arkansas State University Leadership Program and the Edge on College program at the University of San Francisco, in addition to helping her daughter’s basketball team as an assistant coach.

Chris Howard

School: U.S. Air Force Academy
Major: Political science
Sport: Football

While in college, Chris Howard excelled on the football team, leading the U.S. Air Force Academy to back-to-back bowl games in 1989 and 1990, including an upset victory over The Ohio State University in the 1990 Liberty Bowl. His academic achievements were equally impressive, including two Academic All-America honors, an NCAA postgraduate scholarship and the 1990 Vincent DePaul Draddy Trophy (now known as the Campbell Trophy), which is the highest academic award in college football. He also earned a Rhodes Scholarship in 1991, and went on to earn a master’s degree with distinction from Harvard Business School and a doctorate at Oxford University. He became an Air Force lieutenant colonel and served in Afghanistan in 2003, where he was awarded the Bronze Star. While on active duty, Howard served as an intelligence operations and plans officer with the elite Joint Special Operations Command. He currently serves as president at Hampden-Sydney College, which has improved 17 places in the U.S. News and World Report collegiate rankings under his leadership. Howard is on the NCAA Division III Presidents Council. He is a member of the national council of advisors to the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, and a member of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s Commission to Ensure Integrity and Public Confidence in State Government.

Dr. Howard will be formally named the president of Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh on Feb. 1, 2016.

Joé Juneau

School: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Major: Aeronautical engineering
Sport: Men’s ice hockey

When Joé Juneau arrived at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, he spoke only French. He learned English while on campus, and also earned his aeronautical engineering degree in just three years. Juneau contributed immediately on the ice for Rensselaer, leading the team in assists and points in his first season. He was drafted by the Boston Bruins but elected to continue to play in college. Juneau became the second player in school history with 50 or more assists in a single season, was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award (college hockey’s highest honor), garnered multiple All-America honors, and graduated as the only player in school history to lead the team in scoring all four years. Juneau also represented Canada in the 1992 Olympic Winter Games in France, where he led all Olympians in scoring with 15 points and led Canada to a silver medal. He went on to a successful National Hockey League career, where he played for 15 seasons with six organizations. His 70 assists tied the NHL record by a rookie, and is still the NHL record for most assists by a left wing. He also finished with 102 points during his rookie season, the most ever by a first-year player and the fifth most of all time. Juneau propelled the Washington Capitals to their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance with an overtime goal in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals. He finished his career with 156 goals and 416 assists in 828 NHL games, including 112 playoff games and two Stanley Cup Finals. Following his NHL career, Juneau founded the Nunavik Youth Hockey Development Program in response to serious problems in the Nunavik community in Quebec with crime, poverty and substance abuse. Nearly 10 years later, the program – which encourages academic progress and provides Inuit children with avenues to learn the sport of hockey – has more than 500 participants.

Russell Maryland

School: University of Miami (Florida)
Major: Psychology
Sport: Football

Russell Maryland, a former football star at the University of Miami (Florida), was a 1991 consensus All-American and led the Hurricanes to a 44-4 record during his career. He helped the team set the NCAA record for consecutive home football victories at 58. The two-time national champion was named the defensive Most Valuable Player in the 1991 Cotton Bowl, where he had nine tackles and three sacks in a 46-3 victory over the University of Texas at Austin. Maryland, a defensive tackle, became the first Miami player to win the Outland Trophy, which goes to the best interior lineman in college football. He was the first pick of the 1991 NFL Draft, selected by the Dallas Cowboys. He went on to play 10 seasons in the NFL, including five with the Cowboys, who won three Super Bowls during that time. He was selected to play in the Pro Bowl in 1993, and over the course of his career, he recorded 375 tackles, 24.5 sacks, nine forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries, one interception and one touchdown. He retired from the NFL in 2001 and continued work on the Russell Maryland Foundation through 2004, providing educational resources and recreational enrichment, free football camps and clinics, and scholarships to Chicago area youth. Since 2010, Maryland has been a member of the Cotton Bowl Board of Directors. He also became a spokesperson and member of the board of directors for the C5 Youth Foundation of Texas. He recently worked as an assistant director of player engagement for the Cleveland Browns, providing professional and personal development resources for players and their families, before working with the Dallas Cowboys at their 2015 training camp.

Dikembe Mutombo

School: Georgetown University
Majors: Linguistics, diplomacy
Sport: Men’s basketball

Former Georgetown University men’s basketball student-athlete Dikembe Mutombo was the two-time Big East Conference Defensive Player of the Year, and is ranked third all time in Georgetown history for career blocked shots (354). He graduated from Georgetown with degrees in linguistics and diplomacy, and he is fluent in nine languages, including five African languages.  He won a spot on Georgetown’s All-Century Team, and went on to a successful National Basketball Association career. The 2015 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee was an eight-time NBA All-Star and four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year. In 1996, Mutombo paid for the Congo national women’s basketball team to travel to Atlanta and compete in the Summer Olympic Games, and he also covered the cost of the track and field team’s uniforms and expenses. In 1997, he founded the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation, dedicated to improving the health, education and quality of life for people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. His foundation provides comprehensive health care at the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital, while promoting disease prevention, health policy, health research and increased access to health care education. He was named the Humanitarian of the Year in 2014 by the NBA.

Steve Smith

School: Michigan State University
Major: Interdisciplinary social science
Sport: Men’s basketball

A four-year letter winner and two-time All-American for the Michigan State University men’s basketball team, Steve Smith earned multiple on-court accolades. He led the Spartans to a Big Ten Conference championship in 1990, and later received the Chicago Tribune Silver Basketball Award, presented to the Big Ten’s best player. In 1991, he led the Big Ten in scoring, averaging 23.2 points during conference play. He is still the second-leading all-time scorer for Michigan State with 2,263 career points. Smith was selected in the first round of the 1991 National Basketball Association draft and went on to have a successful 14-year NBA career. In 1998, Smith was selected as an NBA All-Star and received the NBA’s J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award. He went on to represent the United States at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, where he won a gold medal. In 2002, he was the recipient of the Joe Dumars Sportsmanship Award, and he capped his professional career with an NBA championship in 2003. Since he retired, Smith has worked as a radio and television sports broadcaster. He also founded the Steve Smith Charitable Fund, which provides a full scholarship to a Detroit Pershing High School student to attend Michigan State. He was the lead donor for the Clara Bell Smith Student-Athlete Academic Center project at Michigan State, which was named for his mother. In 2001, he was inducted into the Michigan State Hall of Fame, and in 2006 he went into the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame. He returned to Michigan State to complete his degree in 2013.