Two Auburn University student-athletes named finalists for NCAA Walter Byers Scholarship

AUBURN – Two former Auburn student athletes are among the six finalists for the 2012 Walter Byers Postgraduate Scholarship, the NCAA’s highest academic award. Auburn’s finalists are Dan Mazzaferro, diving, who graduated in 2010 from the College of Sciences and Mathematics and in 2011 from the College of Business; and Mary “Katy” Frierson, women’s soccer, who graduated in 2011 from the College of Liberal Arts.

Each year, three male and three female finalists are invited to interview for one of two awards. One male and one female former student-athlete will be selected later this month for the renewable award, which provides $24,000 annually.

A soccer All-American in 2010 and 2011, Frierson was a four-time first-team All-SEC member and named conference freshman of the year in 2008. The Homewood, Ala., native led Auburn to the 2011 SEC Tournament title and was named the tournament MVP. She was drafted 10th overall in the women’s professional soccer draft.

Academically, Frierson graduated summa cum laude in three and a half years with a degree in political science and was the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year her senior year. A member of Phi Kappa Phi and a Lowe’s Senior Class Award first-team member, Frierson was the 2010 NSCAA Scholar-Athlete of the Year and Hermann Trophy semifinalist. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in international development at Auburn.

“I’m immensely honored to be considered for this scholarship,” Frierson said. “To be named as a finalist in such a well-rounded group of student-athletes is extremely exciting and humbling. I’m very thankful for this opportunity and would like to thank the Auburn family for their continued support.”

Mazzaferro was a three-time SEC champion diver and the SEC Male Diver of the Year in 2009 and 2011. A native of Cheshire, Conn., Mazzaferro is a seven-time All-American who participated in the 2007 and 2009 World University Games and was a United States Olympic Trials finalist in 2008.

A Rhodes Scholar finalist in 2011 and 2012, Mazzaferro graduated from Auburn with a 3.92 grade point average in chemistry and was a two-time SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Mazzaferro was a finalist for the Byers Postgraduate Scholarship in 2010 and 2011, and is a four-time College Swimming Coaches Association of America Academic All-American. Currently studying medicine, Mazzaferro is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, National Society of Leadership and Success, Sigma Alpha Pi, Golden Key International Honor Society, Delta Epsilon Iota and National Society of Collegiate Scholars.

“It is a tremendous honor to be named a finalist for the Walter Byers Scholarship,” Mazzaferro said. “The experiences and opportunities I had as an NCAA Division I student-athlete, have positively impacted me and will remain a part of me throughout my life. I am grateful for the service of Walter Byers and the thousands of other NCAA coaches and staff who have created, and continue to improve, an environment that encourages excellence in academics, athletics, and service.”

“Dan and Katy’s selection speaks volumes for the mentoring, guidance and support they received in the Athletics Department with special thanks to Mary Boudreaux, Committee Chair, Faculty Athletics Representative, and Gary Waters and his wonderful academic counselors Courtney Gage and Jenna Sample in the Athletics Department” said Paul Harris, Associate Director of the Honors College.

“We’re very proud of Katy Frierson and Dan Mazzaferro and congratulate them on the high honor of being named Walter Byers Postgraduate Scholarship finalists,” Auburn Director of Athletics Jay Jacobs said. “They have each excelled academically and athletically throughout their time as student-athletes at Auburn, exemplifying the best and highest ideals of the Auburn Creed.”

This is the second consecutive year an Auburn student-athlete has been named a finalist; Dan Mazzaferro was a 2011 finalist. To date, Auburn has claimed one winner, Matthew Busbee as a Byers Scholar. Busbee, who graduated in 2000, is an orthopedic surgeon in private practice in Mobile.

The Byers Scholarships were established in 1988 to recognize the contributions of former NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers. Recipients must have at least a 3.5 grade-point average, demonstrate evidence of superior character and leadership, and show that participation in athletics has been a positive influence on their personal and intellectual development.

For more information on the Walter Byers Scholarship go to
http://www.ncaa.org/wps/wcm/connect/public/NCAA/Resources/Latest+News/2012/April/2012+Walter+Byers+Postgraduate+Scholarship+finalists+selected?pageDesign.

Contact: Paul Harris, The University Honors College, (334) 844-5860 (pah0005@auburn.edu), or
Mike Clardy, Office of Communications and Marketing, (334) 844-9999 (clardch@auburn.edu)