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2021 NCAA Silver Anniversary Award recipients announced

Former college athletes to be recognized during NCAA Convention

Seven former college athletes will receive the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award in recognition of their collegiate and professional achievements, as well as their civic contributions.

The award annually recognizes distinguished individuals on the 25th anniversary of the conclusion of their college athletics careers. The honorees are selected by the NCAA Honors Committee, composed of representatives of NCAA member schools, conferences and distinguished citizens, including past awardees.

Silver Anniversary honorees will be recognized during a virtual Honors Celebration awards show on Wednesday, Jan. 13. The show will be streamed at 7 p.m. Eastern time on the NCAA Twitter account and on the ESPN app.

The 2021 recipients are Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Adam J. Burgasser, Michelle M. Marciniak, Fernando Palomo, Amy E. Reinhard, Lt. Col. Dan Rooney and Michelle Cusimano Vachris.

Shareef Abdur-Rahim

School: University of California, Berkeley
Major: Sociology
Sport: Basketball

Former California basketball student-athlete Shareef Abdur-Rahim was the first player in the Pac-10 to win conference Freshman of the Year and Player of the Year honors in the same season. The Associated Press named him a third team All-American after he set team freshman records in points, scoring average, field goals made and free throws. He was later inducted to the Pac-12 Hall of Honor. Abdur-Rahim was selected third overall by the Vancouver Grizzlies in the 1996 NBA Draft, where he set a team first-year scoring record by averaging 18.7 points per game before joining the NBA All-Rookie first team. A 2001-02 NBA All-Star, he became the sixth youngest player in NBA history to record 10,000 career points. Abdur-Rahim also played professionally for the Atlanta Hawks, Portland Trail Blazers and Sacramento Kings, helping the Kings to their first playoff appearance in team history in 2006. He averaged 18.1 points and 7.5 rebounds in his career. Abdur-Rahim represented the United States internationally, winning a gold medal at the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney. Upon retirement from the NBA in 2008, he joined the Sacramento Kings front office staff, serving as assistant general manager. In 2016, he was hired as the NBA’s vice president for basketball operations before being named president of the NBA G League in 2018. He founded The Future Foundation, an organization that has provided educational, health and life skills programs to more than 20,000 Atlanta-area children. In 2008, he was presented the Trumpet Usher Raymond Altruism Award honoring excellence in the African American community, and his alma mater, California, awarded him the Pete Newell Career Achievement Award in 2019.

Adam J. Burgasser

School: University of California, San Diego
Major: Physics
Sport: Swimming and diving

Astrophysicist Dr. Adam J. Burgasser attended UC San Diego, where he won the Division III national title on the 3-meter springboard and was named the 1996 NCAA Division III Diver of the Year. He served as team captain and set a national record on the 1-meter springboard. Upon graduating summa cum laude, he attended graduate school at Caltech and was diving coach at UC San Diego and Caltech, leading three divers to Division III national competitions. An NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship recipient, he was an NCAA Today’s Top Eight awardee in 1997. Burgasser received his Ph.D. in physics from Caltech in 2001 and earned two postdoctoral fellowships. He became a faculty member at MIT and then UC San Diego, where he is now a professor in the physics department. An observational astrophysicist who studies the smallest stars and extrasolar planets, he is best known for discovering and defining a new class of “failed” stars, or brown dwarfs, called T dwarfs. He was also a co-discoverer of TRAPPIST-1, a planetary system of seven Earth-sized planets orbiting a nearby low-mass star. Three of the planets are potentially habitable. He is the author of over 250 peer-reviewed papers and frequently gives public lectures. Burgasser is an advocate for equity and inclusion in science, and he has written extensively on issues such as college admissions, student mindset and indigenous science. As a professor, Burgasser has earned an Outstanding Mentor of the Year Award, an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action and Diversity Award, and a Distinguished Teaching Award. As an advocate for international science, Burgasser has been a visiting professor at the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias in Spain, the University of Bern in Switzerland and the University of Exeter in Great Britain, the last as a Fulbright Scholar.

Michelle M. Marciniak

School: University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Major: Psychology
Sport: Basketball

Point guard Michelle M. Marciniak won a national championship with Tennessee in 1996 and received Naismith All-American and Associated Press All-America Honorable Mention honors in 1996. She was named Most Outstanding Player and a member of the All-Tournament Team at the 1996 NCAA Final Four. During her tenure, Tennessee was 97-9, including 31-2 in the Southeastern Conference. Marciniak surpassed 1,000 points in her career and still ranks third in program history in season assists and fifth in both season and career assists average. She represented Team USA in international competition, winning a silver medal at the 1995 World University Games and a gold medal at the 1996 Jones Cup. She played professionally with the Portland Fire and Seattle Storm and was previously named an American Basketball League All-Star with the Portland Power. Concurrently, Marciniak worked as a color commentator for Fox Sports, ESPN Radio and the Lady Vol Radio Network. She served as a Women’s National Basketball Association representative at the 2002 NBA All-Star Weekend and later served as a WNBA player representative for corporate marketing strategies in 2003. The WNBA also awarded her the National Community Service Award in 2002. After her playing career, Marciniak worked as an assistant women’s basketball coach for South Carolina from 2003 to 2008. She is co-founder and co-CEO of SHEEX Inc., which invented the category of performance fabric bedding and holds numerous worldwide patents in bedding, mattress and sleepwear products. SHEEX has been featured in The New York Times, Sports Illustrated and O Magazine. Marciniak co-founded Pedal for Alzheimer’s and has previously served as a spokesperson for the Pat Summitt Foundation. She is a Henry Crown Fellow (class of 2014), a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network and a strategic advisor for Space for Humanity.

Fernando Palomo

School: Texas A&M University, College Station
Major: Agricultural economics
Sport: Track and field

Javelin thrower Fernando Palomo placed 12th at the 1996 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships. His collegiate best throw of 237 feet, 1 inch earlier that year was the third-best mark in Texas A&M history at the time. He also earned all-Southwest Conference honors. Palomo competed internationally for El Salvador, winning eight national titles, and his national javelin record of 72.70 meters set in 1998 still stands. As an ESPN announcer, Palomo served as host for the first ESPN “SportsCenter” broadcast for the Latin American market and later hosted the first ESPN “SportsCenter” show in Spanish for a U.S. audience. He is the lead soccer play-by-play commentator covering European soccer for ESPN in the U.S. and throughout Latin America and is the host of European soccer show “Fuera de Juego.” Throughout his career, Palomo has covered matches ranging from UEFA’s European Championships, the Euro, FIFA friendlies and World Cup qualifiers, the Italian Serie A, Spanish La Liga, English Premier League, France’s Ligue 1 and the German Bundesliga. He has called more than 15 UEFA Champions League Finals. He was part of ESPN’s broadcasting team during the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, as well as in Germany 2006, South Africa 2010 and Russia 2018. Palomo has provided ESPN’s Spanish-language commentary for track and field competition at every Pan American Games since 2003 and for Olympic games in London 2012 and Rio 2016, where he was also on the team for the Opening Ceremony. In 2013, Palomo started working as the Spanish-language commentator for the EA Sports FIFA video game franchise. He is an ambassador for Glasswing International, which operates health, education, migration and community development programs for children in Latin America, and the Salvadoran Foundation for Health and Human Development, known as FUSAL, a nonprofit focused on health and education. A lifetime member of the Texas A&M Lettermen’s Association, he mentors young journalists at the university and is a member of the International Society of Olympic Historians.

Amy E. Reinhard

School: Harvard University
Major: Sociology
Sports: Softball, basketball

Two-sport athlete Amy E. Reinhard ranks second all-time in stolen bases, fourth in runs scored, seventh in hits, and ninth in batting average at Harvard. A softball team captain, she was first-team all-Ivy League in 1995 and 1996 after earning second-team honors in 1994. The 1996 NCAA Woman of the Year nominee became the first softball player to be inducted into the Harvard Varsity Club Hall of Fame. In basketball, she ranks fifth at Harvard in 3-point field goal percentage and helped her team to an Ivy League Championship and first NCAA tournament appearance in 1996. She was also named Harvard’s best defensive player in 1993 and 1994. CoSIDA awarded her third-team Academic All-America honors for softball in 1995, and Harvard bestowed the Agassiz Merit Award, Harvard Faculty Scholarship and Harvard College Scholarship for academic accomplishments. An NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship recipient, she also earned a Master of Business Administration from Harvard. Reinhard is currently vice president of studio operations and consumer products at Netflix, overseeing physical production, creative production services and production facilities. She also has guided global English-language content acquisition, as well as local-language content acquisition in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India. She previously served as president of worldwide television licensing and distribution at Paramount Pictures, where she managed global sales and distribution for all film and television properties. Reinhard served on the board of Los Angeles Education Partnership, chairing the Fundraising and Events Committee. She co-chaired the Harvard Women’s Basketball Endowment Group, helping to raise $2 million.

Lt. Col. Dan Rooney

School: University of Kansas
Major: Geography
Sport: Golf

Kansas golfer Lt. Col. Dan Rooney won the 1995 Kansas Invitational and finished in the top 10 twice at the Border Olympics. He placed sixth at the 1996 NCAA central regional. He also helped his team to a second-place finish in the Big Eight Championships in 1995 and 5th place at the 1996 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships. He later golfed professionally on the Professional Golfers’ Association Tour. He also founded The Patriot, a golf club in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and American Dunes, a golf club in Grand Haven, Michigan. After graduation, Rooney joined the Oklahoma Air National Guard and is a two-time recipient of the Top Gun award and a recipient of the Spirit of Attack Award as a top graduate of F-16 training. The White House presented Rooney the President’s Volunteer Service Award, while the Air National Guard awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and Directors Service Award. The Air Force bestowed the Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Medal, Anti-Terrorism Medal, Combat Readiness Medal and Air Expeditionary Medal. He also received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. Rooney is the founder and chief executive officer of Folds of Honor, which has provided 30,000 scholarships totaling more than $140 million to families of deceased or disabled service members. The PGA gave Rooney its Patriot Award, and ABC World News Tonight named him Person of the Year. Media outlets, including People Magazine, Money Magazine and CNN, have also recognized Rooney. He has authored two books, “A Patriot’s Calling: Living Life Between Fear and Faith” and “Fly Into the Wind: How To Harness Faith and Fearlessness on Your Ascent to Greatness.”

Michelle Cusimano Vachris

School: University of Virginia
Major: Psychology
Sports: Lacrosse, field hockey

Goalie Michelle Cusimano Vachris was a contributing member of Virginia’s NCAA lacrosse championship team in 1993 and earned All-America lacrosse honors three times, including two first-team selections. She received National Goalkeeper of the Year honors in 1995 and 1996, and the Atlantic Coast Conference named her to its 50th Anniversary Team. Vachris set university records for saves in a career and saves in a season and still ranks second in Virginia history for career save percentage and sixth in career goals against average. She also set the mark for saves in an NCAA final round game. The National Field Hockey Coaches Association named her an All-American in 1996, and she ranks second in school history in career saves, fourth in single-season saves and fourth in career goals against average. She played internationally for the United States developmental lacrosse team. A two-time member of the IWLCA Academic Honor Roll, she also appeared on the NFHCA All-Academic team and Atlantic Coast Conference Academic honor roll. She later graduated magna cum laude from New York Law School in 2000, where she also served as executive editor of the New York Law School Law Review. Vachris currently serves as vice president and associate general counsel for labor and employment relations at ViacomCBS. She has been a member of the CBS law department’s diversity and summer internship committees. She has done pro bono work for several nonprofits and spoke on an ESPNW Campus Conversation panel, providing career advice to Virginia undergraduates.