IOWA CITY, Iowa – University of Iowa seniors Megan Gustafson (women’s basketball) and Matt Nelson (football) were named Iowa’s Big Ten Medal of Honor winners for 2018-19 at the University of Iowa Athletics Senior Reception Friday afternoon.
The Big Ten Medal of Honor is the conference’s most exclusive award, and the first of its kind in intercollegiate athletics to recognize academic and athletic excellence. The Big Ten Medal of Honor was first awarded in 1915 to one male and one female student-athlete from the graduating class of each university who had “attained the greatest proficiency in athletics and scholastic work.”
Gustafson ended her career as the most decorated Hawkeye in women’s basketball program history. She owns 16 Iowa records, including career marks for points (2,804) and rebounds (1,460). The Port Wing, Wisconsin, native was the first Big Ten student-athlete to be named the consensus national player of the year (Associated Press, ESPN, Naismith, USBWA). Gustafson netted 1,001 points this season, becoming just the fourth Division I female student-athlete and the only post player to eclipse 1,000 points in a single season. This year, Gustafson led the national in five categories, including points per game (27.8), field goal percentage (69.6), total points (1,001), field goals made (412), and double-doubles (33). She was also named Iowa’s Female Athlete of the Year.
Nelson is a four-year football letterman as a defensive end and tackle from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He started 33 games throughout his career, including the final 20 games over the past two seasons. Nelson earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors by league coaches and media as a senior. He recorded 31 tackles as a senior, and tied for third on the team with six pass break-ups. His career totals include 111 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, nine sacks, nine pass break-ups, and one forced fumble. A four-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, Nelson earned the Comeback Player of the Year Award and the Team Hustle Award as a senior. Nelson missed all of spring practice prior to his senior season due to injury, before returning to start every game as a senior as Iowa posted a 9-4 overall record.
Also headlining the awards were seniors Adorabol Huckleby (women’s tennis), Ben Colin (men’s swimming & diving) and Molly Kelly (volleyball).
Huckleby earned the UI Center for Diversity and Enrichment’s Leadership Award. This award goes to a graduating, senior student-athlete, who because of their leadership has made significant contributions to the university and/or surrounding communities through his/her vision and action to advance diversity and inclusion. She accumulated over 100 combined singles and doubles wins in her career and was twice named Iowa’s Big Ten Sportsmanship Award winner. The Detroit, Michigan, native served on the Iowa Student Athlete Advisory Committee (ISAAC) for three years, serving as an executive in 2019 and chairing the Diversity and Inclusion Committee. She is a liaison to the ISAAC Multicultural focus group, helped write the ISAAC Diversity and Inclusion Newsletter, and helped produce the Golden Herky Awards in 2018 and 2019.
Colin and Kelly earned the Robert Ray Award. The award, which is named after a former dean and longtime UI faculty representative to the Big Ten Conference, is annually presented by the UI President’s Committee on Athletics (PCA) to a male and female student athlete who demonstrates outstanding academic and athletic excellence and leadership.
Colin is a four-year letterwinner, competing in distance freestyle events. The Dubuque, Iowa, native led the team in the 1,000-yard freestyle as a freshman and ranked among the team leaders in the 1,650-yard freestyle in each of his four seasons. Colin is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, two-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar, a member of Iowa Student Government and serves as the ISAAC chair. Last month Colin received the 2019 Jim McKay Scholarship, which is a $10,000 scholarship awarded by the NCAA to two student-athletes on track to graduate who demonstrate achievement in sports communications or public relations or hope to contribute in the field.
Kelly earned team MVP honors after a record-setting year in 2018. The two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree led the conference and set Iowa’s single-season dig record with 619 digs and 5.12 digs per set. The West Liberty, Iowa, native was named the CoSIDa Academic All-America Team Member of the Year as the country’s most impactful volleyball student-athlete in the classroom and on the court.