June 14, 2006
Winners of the Big Ten’s oldest award, the Medal of Honor, were announced today by the conference office. Among those honored were Iowa basketball player Greg Brunner and diver Nancilea Underwood. First awarded in 1914, the Big Ten endowed a Medal of Honor to be given annually to a student in the graduating class of each university that demonstrated proficiency in scholarship and athletics. In 1982, the Medal of Honor was expanded to include a senior female athlete from each institution.
Brunner is a senior from Charles City who concluded his career as Iowa’s career rebound leader with 990 rebounds. He also ranks 10th in career scoring with 1,516 points and sixth in blocked shots with 104. He recorded 32 scoring and rebounding double-doubles in 127 career games.
Brunner also excelled off the court. He was an academic all-Big Ten selection for three straight years and as a senior was named to the CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine academic all-America third team.
Brunner averaged 14.1 points and 9.2 rebounds a game in leading Iowa to a 25-9 record in his final season. He was a first team all-Big Ten selection and was named to the all-tournament team after helping the Hawkeyes win the Big Ten’s post-season tournament.
“It’s an honor to be recognized with an award such as the Medal of Honor,” said Brunner. “The list of recipients from around the Big Ten is outstanding and I’m honored to be a part of that. I know there are a large number of outstanding student-athletes at the University of Iowa, so to be selected as the male representative is very rewarding.”
Underwood, a senior from Spring, Texas, is the only five-time all-American in Iowa women’s swimming and diving history. She set the school and Fieldhouse Pool three-meter records, and the school one-meter championship record. She finished second on three-meter and third on one-meter boards at the 2005 NCAA Championships. Underwood also placed fourth on three-meter at the 2006 championships and 11th on three-meter at the 2003 championships.
In addition to her stellar collegiate career, Underwood competed for the USA Diving Team in numerous competitions. Underwood was one of only two Americans invited to compete at the FINA Grand Prix Superfinal in Mexico in 2005. She captured bronze medals on three-meter springboard and three-meter synchronized diving at the 2005 FINA Diving Grand Prix in Zhuhai, China. Underwood placed ninth on three-meter springboard at the FINA World Championships. She returned to China this past April and competed in the three-meter synchronized event at the FINA Diving Grand Prix.
Underwood also excelled in the classroom where she was a three-time academic all-Big Ten honoree, earned academic all-district second team laurels her senior season and was named to the 2005 College Swim Coaches Academic All-America team.
“Each and every student-athlete works very hard at excelling in both academics and athletics and I’m honored to be selected as the University of Iowa’s female recipient of this prestigious award,” said Underwood. “This is a nice way to end my collegiate career after four years of hard work and dedication.”
Since the introduction of the Big Ten Medal of Honor, more than 1,100 student-athletes have been awarded the honor.
This year, 22 student-athletes, representing 14 sports, have been chosen for the Medal of Honor. The recipients include 16 all-Big Ten selections, 20 academic all-Big Ten honorees and participants from one national championship team, three Big Ten championship squads and three conference tournament winners.