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UNC’s Fedora doesn’t shy away from his Christianity

UNC coach Larry Fedora.

UNC coach Larry Fedora.

The attorney for the Freedom From Religion Foundation out of Madison, Wisc. could probably put a satellite office in ACC football country, maybe even in the Triangle.

As background, this past April, the lawyer wrote a letter to Clemson University claiming that football coach Dabo Swinney was comingling religion and athletics to the point that you had to “pray to play.” See the five-page bullying complaint here.

“I can’t come to work and not be a Christian. It’s just the reality of it,” said Swinney, who says he doesn’t make football decisions based on players’ participation in religious activities.

“I have great respect for other people’s faiths and beliefs and all that,” he added. “It’s not my job to judge people. I just am who I am.”

Football and religion is not uncommon.

In Durham, Duke prays before each game and at every practice.

Over in Chapel Hill, UNC coach Larry Fedora is very open about his Christianity.

“It’s extremely important in my life. There’s no doubt about it – I don’t try to hide it,” Fedora said. “I don’t try to hide it in the program either. I really believe when these players come to Carolina, my responsibility is to see them grow academically, socially and spiritually.”

He said that he’s not pushing anything on them but instead is providing an atmosphere that if they want to grow spiritually they can.

The team prays together on occasion, and certainly before and after every game. “We don’t ask for a win,” Fedora said with a laugh. “We ask to keep guys healthy and safe.”

The Tar Heels have a year-round team chaplain, Mitch Mason, who is with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. “He does a great job being there for our young men as a mentor, as an ear and as just a friend,” Fedora said. He’s at all the workouts and he has a relationship with all the guys. They can go to his office and talk to him about any problems they are having.”

Fedora says that’s a great thing. Like with Swinney at Clemson, you probably won’t see any changes at Carolina as long as Fedora is there, no matter how many letters the Freedom From Religion Foundation writes.

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Photos from ACC Football Kickoff event





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State football not winning yet but making strides

statehelmetOk, NC State didn’t win a football game in ACC play a year ago but there appears to be excitement around the program heading into the 2014 season.

Wolfpack 2nd year coach Dave Doeren said the fans have been “very encouraging” and supportive.

“They want what we want and we want to give ‘em what they want,” Doeren said at the ACC Football Kickoff event Monday in Greensboro. “They were very appreciative of our recruiting efforts. And they came to the spring game and saw our progress. Now we need to go out and play.”

He tempered the enthusiasm a bit by adding that it’s going to take time. “It just is,” he said. “We inherited a team that didn’t have a lot of depth but we’re making a lot of progress – in a lot of areas.”

While rival North Carolina has been taking a beating over academic issues, Doeren is prideful about his team’s academic success and took plenty of time to take about it.

“We had the highest team GPA (a 2.71 grade point average) in the spring that they’ve had in 15 years,” he said adding that it’s the first time in the history of the football program that it hasn’t had a player ineligible going into the summer.”

I didn’t know such stats were kept but that is impressive. “Academically we’ve made a lot of strides,” Doeren said. “We continue to push guys off the field to make those strides. It puts us in a position where we’re not losing players… For instance, we have eight players in post-graduate programs right now, which is great.”

In addition to hiring an additional person to help with academics, the coaches have become very involved on a day-to-day basis, he said. They make sure they are on time for class and generally hold them accountable for academic excellence.

“We get information daily from our academic center and we communicate that information to our athletes and their parents,” Doeren said. “We have a hands-on approach academically with our team. I talk about it a lot – I demand it from them. It’s transparent.”

Doeren said in addition to seeing how much weight they can lift and how many squats they can do, their GPAs are recorded on the wall. “They don’t want to have bad information on the wall. It’s important for them to look good which is part of why we do it,” he said.

Another change this season will be the Wolfpack uniformly, primarily the helmet. “We have a lot of tradition with our uniform and I don’t take that lightly one bit,” Doeren said. “It’s important to respect your tradition. I also know that in today’s world and in recruiting, kids like to have some bling, some flash but I didn’t want it to take away from our tradition.”

The helmet maintains the red, gray and black coloring but not really much white. In addition, a wolf’s eyes peer out the back of the helmet. “It definitely honors the wolf,” Doeren said. “I thought it was a good blend of tradition and flare. Our players loved it.”

New matching uniforms will be coming in soon. Will the wins follow? One thing at a time.

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Duke building a winning culture in football, coach says

David Cutcliffe.

David Cutcliffe.

We are in an era of short-attention spans, where history means five years ago. People forget that Duke was a football powerhouse before it was a basketball powerhouse. Duke coach David Cutcliffe doesn’t have to drum up the spirits of Wallace Wade or Ace Parker (look ‘em up kids), all he has to do is point to recent success.

“For the generation we are dealing with, three years is tradition,” Cutcliffe said during the ACC Football Kickoff event today in Greensboro.

That’s good for a Blue Devil team that has been to a pair of bowl games in the last two years and played Florida State for the conference crown.

Duke lost all three of those games but they were high-profile games. “The impact of being the only game on TV – even though they were losses – was that people got to see that we are genuinely a good football team,” Cutcliffe said.

When the Devils were coming off 3-9 seasons, Cutcliffe said he had a hard time convincing the older guys who much fun it was going to be to go to a bowl game. “Once that you taste it, you’re fighting for it,” he said.

He says everything has changed or, at least, is changing at Duke. “When you change a culture, it changes every aspect of your program – from recruiting to the quality of practice,” Cutcliffe said adding that now he wants his squad to become a more physical football team.

“I’ve never believed that more contact is better, quality contact is better,” he said. In practice he wants the hits so solid that he has to ask the players to back off. “That’s a culture,” he said.

At Duke, while he has signed some good players, he hasn’t always been able to sign the best recruits coming out of high school. “Sometimes it’s harder to coach a guy whose been told he’s great by so many people,” Cutcliffe said. “Maybe it’s best to sign a bunch of two-star players for a four-star offense.”

Cutcliffe, whose team has been picked to finish second in the ACC Coastal Division, says he likes his staff and the mix of veteran and young players. He expects Duke to be good this year. Why not? They have the history.

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FSU picked to win ACC title; Duke chosen 2nd in Coastal

accfootballDefending national champion Florida State is the consensus choice to repeat as Atlantic Division champion and defeat Miami in the 10th annual Dr Pepper Atlantic Coast Conference Football Championship Game, according to a poll of media members in attendance at the 2014 ACC Football Kickoff at Grandover Resort.

Reigning Heisman Trophy winner and Walter Camp National Player of the Year Jameis Winston, who led the Seminoles to an unbeaten season and their third national title as a redshirt freshman in 2013, was chosen to repeat as ACC Player of the Year.

Florida State was picked as the likely overall ACC winner on 104 of 112 ballots cast. The Seminoles were picked to finish atop the Atlantic Division by 109 voters and amassed 780 total points. Clemson received the remaining three-first-place votes and placed second with 660. ACC newcomer Louisville placed third at 564, followed by Syracuse (368), NC State (326), Boston College (301) and Wake Forest (136).

Miami’s 26 first-place votes placed third among Coastal Division teams, but the Hurricanes’ 614 total points led overall. Defending division champion Duke received 33 first-place votes and finished with 597 points, followed by Virginia Tech with 571 points and 23 first-place votes. North Carolina was just behind in fourth place with 570 points and 27 first-place votes, followed by Georgia Tech (322 with one first place vote), Pitt (319 with two first-place votes) and Virginia (142).

Winston is one of 15 returning starters for Florida State, which seeks its third straight ACC title. The Seminoles own 14 ACC football championships in 23 seasons as a conference member, tying Clemson for most league titles all-time.

This marks the third time in four years that the Seminoles have led the ACC media preseason voting. Florida State was also voted first in 2011 and 2012, and in each of its first 14 seasons after joining the ACC (1992 through 2005).

Winston led the preseason ACC Player of the Year balloting with 99 votes, followed by Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley with six. Duke wide receiver Jamison Crowder, Miami running back Duke Johnson and Virginia Tech quarterback Brenden Motley received one vote apiece.

Last season saw Winston, of Bessemer, Alabama, become the youngest player to win the Heisman Trophy (19 years, 342 days) and just the second freshman to receive the honor. A dazzling playmaker, he led the Seminoles to a 14-0 record and engineered the game-winning drive in a 34-31 win over Auburn in the 2013 VIZIO BCS National Championship Game.

Named the offensive MVP of the national title game, Winston also received the Davey O’Brien Award and the Manning Award as the nation’s best quarterback after setting national freshman records for passing yards (4,057) and touchdown passed (40) in 2013. His pass efficiency rating of 184.8 set an ACC record and led the nation.

ACC Championship Votes

1. Florida State – 104

2. Clemson – 2

3. Virginia Tech – 2

(4 voters made no selection)

Atlantic Division

(First place votes in parenthesis)

1. Florida State (109) – 780

2. Clemson (3) – 660

3. Louisville – 564

4. Syracuse – 368

5. NC State – 326

6. Boston College – 301

7. Wake Forest – 136

Coastal Division

(First place votes in parenthesis)

1. Miami (26) – 614

2. Duke (33) – 597

3. Virginia Tech (23) – 571

4. North Carolina (27) – 570

5. Georgia Tech (1) – 322

6. Pitt (2) -319

7. Virginia -142

ACC Player of the Year

1. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State – 99

2. Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson – 6

3. Duke Johnson, RB, Miami – 1

4. Jamison Crowder, WR, Duke – 1

5. Brenden Motley, QB, Virginia Tech -1

(4 voters made no selection)

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ACC official says replay, rule changes working well

Doug Rhoads.

Doug Rhoads.

Speaking at the ACC Football Kickoff media event in Greensboro, ACC Coordinator of Officials Doug Rhoads gave statistical backup that goes against conventional wisdom of the average fan.

For one, he says, replays don’t take very long, and two, officials are ultimately getting it right.

Only a little more than one in five replays resulted in an overturned call last season. The game was stopped 210 times in ACC games with the average wait time just a minute and four seconds. “That’s less than any commercial break,” he said.

Rule changes are always a big topic but in even years only changes are made that are considered safety measures. This year there will be an emphasis on hitting with force on or below the knee. There will be a 15-yard penalty but there won’t be any ejections as there were last year for launching head first into a player or hitting above the shoulders.

Last season, nationally, 92 players were initially ejected but 32 of those were reversed on replay. So, 60 players in more than 800 games isn’t excessive. Rhoads credits that to the players being taught differently by coaches and players adjusting.

Four years ago the league put an emphasis on excessive celebrations and as a result, Rhoads says that has almost totally been “coached out of the game.” There were only six players called with excessive celebration nationally last season.

But hitting above the shoulders is a lot harder to coach out of the game. As reported above, it turned out that a lot of those calls weren’t offenses after all – the players did not hit above the shoulders. In a game that moves as fast as football with bang-bang plays, I’m not sure how you coach that call out of football.

Certainly coaches can advise against launching into players, especially head first, and hitting players with a forceful upward thrust. But those hits are inches one way or another. One’s an exciting pop and the other is a 15 yard penalty and an ejection.

Last season, if one of those plays was overruled on replay, the player was re-admitted to the game but the 15-yard penalty stood. After an outcry from coaches, this season if the play is overruled, not only is the player re-admitted but the 15-yard penalty goes away. Makes sense.

One thing you’ll see different this year is another official in the offensive backfield. The ACC will add an 8th official called the center judge. Among other duties, he will spot the ball and be another set of eyes for the referee looking at the offensive line. This gives the ref more time to make sure the QB remains safe, for instance, rather than focusing on a holding on the other side of the line.

Not sure how much this will help and how much it will just make the field more crowded. There are already concerns about the officials getting in the way.

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ACC commissioner Swofford gives state of the conference address

John Swofford.

John Swofford.

Commissioner John Swofford looked ahead with excitement and anticipation on Sunday as he met with a record media contingent at the Atlantic Coast Conference’s 43rd annual Football Kickoff.

“The combination of the league’s 15 member institutions is remarkable, and this conference has never been stronger and better positioned,” Swofford said.

A three-year period of growth culminated with Louisville’s official entry into the conference on July 1. The ACC Football Kickoff represents a friendly initiation of sorts, and Swofford expects the Cardinals to make a strong first and lasting impression as they begin full-scale league athletic competition.

“As I’ve said previously, Louisville brings to the ACC an institution and athletic program on a tremendous upward trajectory,” Swofford said. “It brings a dynamic city and a rabid, large and passionate fan base. Frankly speaking, I know of no other athletic program that has progressed as much as Louisville has in the last 15 years.”

Louisville will join an ACC that saw five teams win NCAA Championships during the 2013-14 academic year and placed at least one team among the top five in 14 of its sponsored sports. Nine ACC student-athletes claimed individual NCAA titles.

But Swofford made equal note of the conference’s collective academic accomplishments.

ACC football programs led all conferences for the eighth-straight year in the NCAA’s Academic Performance Rates (APR) and for the eighth time in nine years in the NCAA’s Graduation Success Rates (GSR). Overall, ACC member schools continue to lead the way among the Power 5 conferences in the latest US News and World Report Rankings of ‘Best Colleges,’ with over half of its membership among the Top 50 and five among the Top 30.

“Academically, I continue to be inspired by the student-athletes that attend our conference’s unique mix of public and private institutions,” Swofford said.

While applauding the successes of the past year and looking ahead to a promising ACC future, Swofford acknowledged that “there’s no overlooking the national discussions during this period of restructuring within college athletics.”

“I applaud the great efforts by Wake Forest President Nathan Hatch, who also serves as the chair of the NCAA Board of Directors in leading the membership throughout this process,” Swofford said. “The change that continues to be called for is key to ensuring that the model reflects the needs of the 21st century student-athlete, while also recognizing how special the collegiate model is to the educational system within our country.”

Swofford said the ACC, along with the Big Ten, Big XII, PAC-12 and SEC, will continue to prioritize the discussions surrounding the enhancement of the athletic scholarship, ensuring that student-athletes have every opportunity to earn a degree (even if they return to school following the completion of a professional career) and ensure that they have their health and safety needs met by the institutions they represent.

The issues of health and safety were addressed earlier Sunday, when the ACC announced an endorsement of the USA Football “Heads Up Program.” The partnership will entail league coaches participating in a public relations campaign to increase awareness at the youth football level.

The endorsement follows a meeting of ACC medical personnel last March to update and refine player safety policies. Consensus from those discussions was shared and discussed with the league’s football coaches at the ACC Spring Meetings.

“I think the work done by our membership this past year was terrific,” Swofford said. “There’s always an emphasis on prioritizing player safety, and this year allowed the ACC the opportunity to take a leadership role within the NCAA by taking an active role and officially endorsing the new guidelines just recently announced.”

Swofford said the ACC also put forward three requests to the NCAA rules committee asking for the ability to expand the use of technology in practices and games for player-safety data collection purposes. The NCAA approved a player monitoring system for ACC games this fall. The ACC’s two other requests – experimentation with a helmet camera during completion and the use of a coach-quarterback communication – will be discussed by the NCAA Football Rules Committee next February.

Many media on Sunday were focused on the upcoming football season. Swofford was more than happy to take part in that discussion, particularly with the ACC coming off a 2013 season that featured Florida State’s national championship, an NCAA-record 11 ACC teams in bowl games and 11 league teams with winning record.

Led by Florida State freshman quarterback Jameis Winston and Pitt senior defensive tackle Aaron Donald, the ACC became the first conference to see its players win the Heisman, Nagurski, Outland, Lombardi, Bednarik, Doak Walker, Lou Groza, Rimington and Davey O’Brien Awards in the same season.

The ACC’s 14 football programs seek similar success in 2014, but Swofford noted that it will be hard-earned.

“No ACC team will face fewer than six opponents that participated in bowl games last year, while 11 of the 14 ACC teams will play at least eight bowl teams from 2013, with both Miami and Virginia each facing 10 teams that were in postseason play a year ago,” he pointed out. “Our teams will also play 24 nonconference games against teams that participated in bowl games in 2013, which ties for most of any Power 5 Conference.”

As has been the case in recent years, there will be no shortage of fan access to those matchups.

“We are extremely pleased that every ACC controlled football game will be available to our fans nationwide,” Swofford said. “Our relationship with ESPN allows us to maximize our reach and bring ACC football and content to fans whenever they are across a multitude of devices. Whether traditional television or national digital and mobile platforms like ESPN3 and Watch ESPN, ACC content is truly available everywhere.

“In addition to ESPN, the ACC Network through Raycom continues to be broader than ever before, with a reach of over 90 million households and no geographic parameters on the distribution. The ACC Network is available in each of the top ten television markets within the US, and in 21 of the Top 25.”

Following this year’s regular season, the ACC Football Championship Game will return to Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium for the fifth consecutive year, and is set to remain at that venue through 2019. The ACC will be represented as one of the Power 5 conferences in the new College Football Playoff while continuing its long-time partnership with the Orange Bowl as part of the new postseason format.

The ACC’s other postseason partnerships include agreements with the Orlando’s New Year’s Day Bowl, Russell Athletic Bowl, Hyundai Sun Bowl, New Era Pinstripe Bowl, Belk Bowl, Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, TaxSlayer Bowl, Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman, Duck Commander Independence Bowl, the Detroit Lions Bowl, the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl and the Birmingham Bowl.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with the future line up of bowl games including many long-time partners and some new ones too,” Swofford said. “Overall, these outstanding partners provide more postseason opportunities, selection flexibility, improved financials, marquee matchups and attractive destinations for the ACC’s teams, fans and alums.”

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14 Triangle-area players make All-ACC Academic baseball team

Duke's Aaron Cohn.

Duke’s Aaron Cohn.

Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Scholar-Athlete of the Year Gage Smith of Florida State leads the sport’s All-ACC Academic Baseball Team, as announced today by Commissioner John Swofford.

A native of Tallahassee, Florida, Smith graduated with a double bachelor’s degree in business marketing and management following the spring semester. He was selected to the Capital One Academic All-America Second Team for 2014 and earned FSU Dean’s List honors in the fall of 2013. He has been named the ACC Scholar-Athlete of the Year the past two seasons.

On the field, Smith was voted to the All-ACC Third Team, finished the season with a 5-2 record and ranked 10th in the league with a 2.39 ERA in 64.0 innings pitched. He led the ACC in appearances with 40, marking the third consecutive year that he has led the league.

Fifteen players were selected to the All-ACC Academic Team after being named to the All-ACC Team: Clemson’s Steven Duggar, Tyler Krieger, and Matthew Crownover; Duke’s Aaron Cohn, Florida State’s Josh Delph, Luke Weaver, and Smith; Georgia Tech’s Daniel Spingola, Miami’s Bryan Garcia, North Carolina’s Trent Thornton, NC State’s Andrew Knizner, and Virginia’s Mike Papi, Daniel Pinero, and Brandon Waddell; and Virginia Tech’s Mark Zagunis.

Three players – Weaver, Garcia, and Papi – also collected All-America accolades, while Knizner and Pinero are Freshman All-Americans on the All-ACC Academic Team. Maryland’s Kyle Convissar, Wake Forest’s Evan Stephens, and Florida State’s Smith were previously named Capital One Academic All-Americans.

Duke and Florida State lead all ACC programs with eight players recognized, followed by Wake Forest with five and Clemson and Virginia with four apiece.

Maryland’s Convissar earned his fourth career selection to the ACC All-Academic Team. Eight other players were recognized for the third time.

The ACC Scholar-Athlete of the Year award was established in September 2007 to be awarded annually to the top junior or senior student-athlete in their respective sports. Candidates for the award must have maintained a 3.0 grade point average for their career as well as a 3.0 for each of the last two semesters.

To be eligible for consideration for the All-ACC Academic team, a student-athlete, regardless of classification, must have earned a 3.00 grade point average for the previous semester and maintained a 3.00 cumulative average during his academic career.

Aaron Cohn, Sr., Duke History
Ryan Deitrich, GS, Duke Master of Management Studies
Robert Huber, Sr., Duke*** Computer Science
Mark Lumpa, Sr., Duke Economics
Michael Matuella, So., Duke Economics
Andy Perez, Jr., Duke Psychology
Michael Rosenfeld, Sr., Duke** Psychology
Trent Swart, Jr., Duke*** Public Policy Studies
Andrew Knizner, Fr., NC State Industrial Engineering
Eric Peterson, Jr., NC State Sport Management
Dale Thomas, Sr., NC State** Park/Natural Resources
Benton Moss, Jr., North Carolina*** Business Administration
Tyler Ramirez, Fr., North Carolina Undecided
Trent Thornton, So., North Carolina** Undecided

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UNC AD responds to news of NCAA reopening investigation

Bubba Cunningham.

Bubba Cunningham.

In light of the news that the NCAA is reopening its investigation of UNC, athletic director Bubba Cunningham has made this statement:

“The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has received a verbal notice of inquiry from the NCAA that it will reopen its 2011 examination of academic irregularities. The NCAA has determined that additional people with information and others who were previously uncooperative might now be willing to speak with the enforcement staff.

“Since 2011, the University has conducted and commissioned numerous reviews of this matter and provided the NCAA with updates. In February, the University retained former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein to conduct an independent investigation and instructed him to share relevant information directly and confidentially with the NCAA.

“The University has instituted numerous academic reforms based on findings from earlier reports that can be found at http://carolinacommitment.unc.edu/ We remain committed to learning from our past so that we can move forward to building a stronger University.

“Consistent with NCAA protocols, we will have no further comment on this matter until the process is complete.”

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FSU’s Winston, Maryland’s Thomas voted ACC Athletes of the Year

Duke's Celine Boutier.

Duke’s Celine Boutier.

Florida State football Heisman Trophy winner and baseball pitcher Jameis Winston joins Maryland women’s basketball All-American Alyssa Thomas as the top male and female ACC athletes for the 2013-14 academic year, as voted upon the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (ACSMA).

Duke golf All-American Celine Boutier, who got my vote, came in third for top female ACC athlete. She won two national player of the year awards. Basketball is a higher profile sport so it was going to be hard to unseat Thomas.

Winston, who quarterbacked Florida State to the 2013 national football championship and played a key role as a reliever on the Seminoles’ nationally-ranked baseball team, earned the 61st Anthony J. McKevlin Award as the conference’s premier male athlete.

Thomas claimed the 24th Mary Garber Award as the conference’s finest female athlete after becoming the second player in conference history to be voted the ACC Women’s Basketball Player of the Year for a third straight season and leading the Terrapins to the 2014 NCAA Final Four.

The awards are given in memory of distinguished journalists from the region. McKevlin was a sports editor in Raleigh, N.C., and Garber, of the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal, was a pioneer as one of the first female sports journalists in the nation.

Winston, of Bessmer, Alabama, became the youngest player to win the Heisman Trophy (19 years, 342 days) and just the second freshman to receive the honor. A dazzling playmaker, he led the Seminoles to a 14-0 record and engineered the game-winning drive in a 34-31 win over Auburn in the 2013 VIZIO BCS National Championship Game.

Named the offensive MVP of the national title game, Winston also received the Davey O’Brien Award and the Manning Award as the nation’s best quarterback. The overall ACC Player of the Year, ACC Offensive Player of the Year and ACC Rookie of the Year, Winston shattered the ACC record, Florida State record and national freshman record for touchdown passes (40) and broke the national freshman record for passing yards (4,057). He led the nation and set the ACC record for pass efficiency rating at 184.8.

Winston was a consensus All-America selection, the 2013 Walter Camp Player of the Year and an All-ACC Academic Team member.

On the baseball diamond, the 6-foot-4, 235-pound Winston made 24 relief appearances and led the Seminoles in saves with seven while posting a 1-0 record and 1.08 ERA. He struck out 31 batters while walking just seven allowing 18 hits in 33.1 innings pitched.

Winston was the choice of 22 of the 41 ACSMA voters casting ballots for the McKevlin Award. Pitt football All-America tackle Aaron Donald placed second with four votes.

Maryland’s Thomas led her team in scoring with 19.0 points per game and in rebounding with 10.9 per contest as the Terrapins posted a 28-7 record. In the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, Thomas passed Juan Dixon as Maryland’s all-time leading basketball scorer (male or female). She ended her career with 2,356 career points and as the school’s leading career rebounder with 1,235.

A consensus All-American, the 6-foot 2 Thomas led the ACC with 28 double-doubles in 35 games played in 2013-14 and led the nation with four triple-doubles. She is one of just three players in NCAA history with six or more triple-doubles in her career. The Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, native also ranked fifth among ACC players in assists (4.1 per game) and shot 51.3 percent from the floor.

In April, Thomas was selected fourth overall by the New York Liberty in the WNBA draft and traded to the Connecticut Sun minutes later in a blockbuster deal.

Thomas received 15 votes in the Garber Award balloting. Virginia soccer All-American Morgan Brian placed second with 10 votes, and Duke golf All-American Celine Boutier was named on eight ballots.