KU is the only U.S. college with Academic All-America selections from the gridiron, court and diamond.
Three students at Kansas University have a nose for the ball and a brain for the textbook.
Now that the dust has settled from the 1995-96 collegiate seasons, it's evident that KU is the only U.S. university to have first-team GTE Academic All-America players in basketball, football and baseball.
"This is the most prestigious national academic and athletic award that exists," said Paul Buskirk, director of support services for KU athletes.
KU's heavy hitters:
- Basketball guard Jacque Vaughn, Pasadena, Calif. The business administration senior has a 3.7 grade-point average. He led the Big Eight in assists.
- Football punter Darrin Simmons, Elkhart. He graduated in May with a sports management degree and compiled a 3.5 GPA. Last season, he ranked No. 6 nationally in punting.
- Baseball designated hitter Josh Dimmick, Wharton, Tex. The junior, who is studying genetics, has a 3.8 GPA. He hit .322 last season.
KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway said he was pleased when students attained a high level of physical and mental fitness.
"I believe in competition," Hemenway said. "I believe in competition in athletics and academic programs. It makes us better."
Wayne Walden, who handles the athletic department's degree and career counseling unit, said the road to success in the classroom and field of play wasn't paved.
"It speaks highly of our coaches for recruiting such a committed student-athlete," he said. "It also says something about a student's ability to balance these two aspects of their lives."
KU had seven Academic All-America selections in 1995-96. In addition to three first-team members, there were two second-team and two third-team picks.
That led to a problem when it came time to add the names to the university's Academic All-America plaque. In the past, KU never had more than four winners in one year.
"With seven, the engraver had to use two plates instead of one," Buskirk said.
The second-teamers were basketball guard Jerod Haase, a South Lake Tahoe, Calif., senior in business administration; and track distance runner Christi Kloster of Lenexa, who graduated in May with degrees in psychology and human development-family life.
Kloster, named with Simmons as KU's Scholar-Athletes of the Year, has been accepted to graduate school at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Third-team selections were basketball guard Angie Halbleib, a Middleton, Wis., senior in education; and tennis player Maria Abatjoglou, a Charleston, W.Va., junior in Spanish and philosophy.
"I respect their commitment and energy," Buskirk said. "To have five of them returning next year is wonderful."