Oct. 11, 2000

by Bernadette Cafarelli

A special group of nine individuals -Jeff Connell (men’s golf), Steve Fiamingo (men’s lacrosse), Ray Fitzpatrick (men’s swimming), Andy Jurkowski (hockey), Alison Klemmer (women’s cross country/track), Jarrah Myers (softball), Mike Naumann (baseball), Jeff Perconte (baseball) and Ruth Riley (women’s basketball) – were honored at halftime of Saturday’s football game against Stanford for their accomplishments last year as GTE (now Verizon) Academic All-Americans.

Since 1952, the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), has been selecting Academic All-America Teams. The Academic All-America Team Program annually honors and names more than 700 student-athletes to five men’s teams (football, basketball, baseball, fall/winter at-large and spring at-large) and five women’s teams (volleyball, basketball, softball, fall/winter at-large and spring at-large) in two divisions – University (Division IA-IAA), and College (NCAA Divisions II-III and NAIA). Athletes from all sports in which the NCAA conducts championships are eligible. Nominees must have a minimum grade point average of 3.20 and be a starter or key reserve on his or her team.

Notre Dame ranks second all-time (behind Nebraska) with 124 Academic All-Americans and in the last five years, has had more Academic All-Americans (44) than any other school. During the 1996-97 school year, a school-record 12 student-athletes were selected to the various teams.

Riley, a senior, achieved a rare double-double when she copped Associated Press All-America honors and GTE Academic All-America first-team honors, a first in the history of the Irish women’s basketball program. The two-time BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year was the only junior named as a first-team Academic All-American. She has a 3.643 cumulative grade-point average as a psychology major and has been on the Dean’s List all six semesters at Notre Dame.

Myers, a junior, became the seventh Irish softball player to earn Academic All-America accolades when she earned third-team honors. An environmental science major with a 3.71 grade-point average, she received BIG EAST first-team honors in 2000 after being named the league’s rookie-of-the-year the previous season.

Since 1977, Irish baseball players have combined for 15 Academic All-America awards. Notre Dame was just one of seven schools to produce multiple honorees in 1999-2000. A left-handed pitcher, Naumann heads into his senior year with a 3.93 grade-point average and has posted three perfect 4.0 semesters while earning Dean’s List recognition all six semesters as a pre-professional major in the College of Science.

In his final season, Perconte, a second baseman, was a first-team Academic All-America selection and the seventh in the program’s history. A Dean’s List honoree, he graduated from the College of Arts and Letters with a double major in economics and government. He appeared in 153 games during his career while helping the Irish post a 171-73 record (.701) from 1997-2000.

Fitzpatrick and Jurkowski were third-team selections to the men’s fall/winter at-large program. Fitzpatrick, the 200-yard BIG EAST freestyle champion and a nine-time all-BIG EAST honoree, was the first Irish swimmer to earn Academic All-America honors. He graduated with a 3.72 from the College of Science as a math major. He also was a recipient of the Byron V. Kanaley Award, the highest honor bestowed upon a Notre Dame student-athlete.

Jurkowski was an eight-time Dean’s List honoree and graduated with a finance degree from the Mendoza College of Business with a 3.86 cumulative grade-point average. With his selection, Notre Dame became the only Division I hockey program to produce an Academic All-American each of the last four years. Jurkowski helped the Irish hockey team reach the 2000 Central Collegiate Hockey Association semifinals. The former Irish walk-on appeared in 108 career games, including a team-best 86 straight.

Klemmer, Fiamingo and Connell rounded out Notre Dame’s Academic All-Americans in the spring. Klemmer was a second-team honoree in the women’s at-large program after earning third-team honors in 1999. She consistently ranked as one of the team’s top runners on the cross country and track teams, twice earning Academic All-America recognition. Klemmer graduated with a degree in biology, earning a 3.81 grade- point average from the College of Science

Fiamingo became the second men’s lacrosse player to earn Academic All-America recognition when he copped second-team at-large honors. A starter on defense as a senior, he led the Irish to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament for just the second time in school history and a 10-4 record. He graduated with a cumulative 3.74 grade-point average from the Mendoza College of Business and received his degree in accounting.

Connell received third-team at-large accolades and is the first men’s golfer to earn Academic All-America recognition. His career stroke average of 75.85 ranks second all-time at Notre Dame history. A Dean’s List honoree all eight semesters, he received his degree in accounting from the Mendoza College of Business and graduated with a 3.74 cumulative grade-point average.