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INDIANAPOLIS – Diana Brown of the University of Illinois and Thomas Penola of Purdue University have been selected as this year’s Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award recipients. All 14 Big Ten Conference member institutions were asked to nominate one female and one male student-athlete for the 2023 school year. The two students selected were each awarded a $10,000 scholarship for their achievements in academics, athletics, extracurricular activities, and leadership.

In recognition of the Big Ten Conference's leadership in fully integrating athletics into the academic mission of its member institutions, the Indianapolis Big Ten Community Partnership initiated the Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award in 2008. During the past 16 years, the award has contributed nearly $300,000 in scholarships.

The award is made possible by donations from local corporations and individuals supporting intercollegiate athletics. The Indianapolis Big Ten Community Partnership is comprised of the State of Indiana, the City of Indianapolis, Indiana Sports Corp, Pacers Sports & Entertainment, and Visit Indy.

Brown is a four-time captain and five-year member of the University of Illinois volleyball team that has had three NCAA Tournament appearances, including a Final Four, during her time with the program. Brown holds top-ten Illinois records in assists, digs, and sets played. She was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team in her first-year campaign.

In addition to her accomplishments on the court, Brown graduated with a 4.0 grade-point average, majoring in molecular and cellular biology with a minor in psychology. She is continuing her education by pursuing a master’s degree in community health. Brown was named a College Sports Communicators Academic All-America First Team selection twice and Second Team once. She was a four-time Academic All-Big Ten recipient, and a two-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar.

Along with her work on the court and in the classroom, Brown served as secretary and treasurer of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC), a leadership committee organized to provide insight into the student-athlete experience. Brown is very active in her community, volunteering with Feed My Starving Children, W.A.R.M. Food Drive, and as a Crisis Text Line operator.

Brown is the second consecutive University of Illinois student-athlete to receive the Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award, following Blake Hayes of the Fighting Illini football team (2022).

Penola is a five-year member of the Purdue wrestling team and a three-time NCAA Championship qualifier. Penola has received many Purdue wrestling recognitions, including Boilermakers’ Most Outstanding Wrestler for 2021-22, Most Dedicated Wrestler and Most Improved Wrestler for 2020-21, and Purdue Wrestling’s Outstanding Freshman in 2018-19.

In addition to his accolades on the mat, Penola is a standout in the classroom as a three-time National Wrestling Coaches Association Scholar All-American, a three-time Academic All-Big Ten recipient, and a 2022 Big Ten Distinguished Scholar. He holds a 3.81 GPA while majoring in English education with a minor in creative writing.

Penola further demonstrates his dedication to wrestling by volunteering as a coach for Central Indiana youth. Following his graduation, he plans to continue coaching while also teaching English and continuing his higher education. Penola is the third Purdue student-athlete to receive the award in its 16-year history.

“Indiana Sports Corp is humbled to have the opportunity to present the Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award to these outstanding student-athletes,” said Indiana Sports Corp President Patrick Talty. “Both of the honorees have demonstrated impressive leadership skills, academic and athletic performance, and serve as role models for their communities.”

The Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award is named for the late Big Ten Conference commissioner who served from 1971 to 1989. While leading the conference, Duke spent much of his time working to improve academic standards and graduation rates for students competing in conference athletics.

2023 Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award Nominees:
University of Illinois: Diana Brown, Volleyball
Indiana University: Margaret Rogers, Women’s Swimming & Diving; Micah Camble, Men’s Track & Field
University of Iowa: Monika Czinano, Women's Basketball
University of Michigan: Natalie Wojcik, Women's Gymnastics
University of Nebraska: Megan Whittaker, Women’s Golf; Moritz Mueller, Men’s Gymnastics
Ohio State University: Kayla Fischer, Women’s Soccer; Bence Bende, Fencing
Penn State University: Lexie Black, Softball; Andrei Paduraru, Men’s Tennis
Purdue University: Emma Tate, Women’s Track & Field; Thomas Penola, Wrestling
Rutgers University: Rachel Houston, Field Hockey; Xavier Marcoux, Men’s Golf
University of Wisconsin: Danielle Bellino, Women’s Track & Field

Previous Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award Recipients:
2022: Blake Hayes, University of Illinois, Football; Gianna Glatz, Rutgers, Field Hockey
2021: Kieran Mullins, Rutgers, Men's Lacrosse & Lea Mitchell, Michigan State, Women's Gymnastics
2020: Scott Piper, Michigan State, Men’s Swimming & Diving; Sade Olatoye, Ohio State, Women’s Track & Field
2019: Anton Stephenson, Nebraska, Men’s Gymnastics; Olivia Rosendahl, Northwestern, Women’s Swimming & Diving
2018: Chris Weber, Nebraska, Football; Emily Mills, Rutgers, Women’s Golf
2017: Geno Morelli, Penn State, Wrestling; Lindsay Agnew, Ohio State, Women’s Soccer
2016: Cody Rush, Nebraska, Men’s Track and Field; Lindsay Mable, Minnesota, Women’s Gymnastics
2015: Campbell Sode, Rutgers, Men’s Lacrosse; Jessica Plant, Minnesota, Women’s Swimming & Diving
2014: Spencer Long, Nebraska, Football; Emily Wong, Nebraska, Women’s Gymnastics
2013: Sean Fisher, Nebraska, Football; Katelyn White, Nebraska, Women’s Cross Country and Track & Field
2012: Miguel Pineda, Penn State, Men’s Gymnastics; Margaux Farrell, Indiana, Women’s Swimming & Diving
2011: Mike Torchia, Minnesota, Men’s Cross Country and Track & Field; Allie Smith, Purdue, Women’s Swimming & Diving
2010: Mark Ison, Northwestern, Football; Chelsea Davis, Ohio State, Women’s Swimming & Diving
2009: Drew Ratner, Northwestern, Men’s Soccer; Lauren Mioton, Purdue, Women’s Basketball
2008: Kevin Trulock, Indiana, Football; Molly Crispell, Penn State, Women’s Swimming & Diving


About the Big Ten Conference
The Big Ten Conference is an association of world-class universities whose member institutions share a common mission of research, graduate, professional and undergraduate teaching and public service. Founded in 1896, the Big Ten has sustained a comprehensive set of shared practices and policies that enforce the priority of academics in the lives of students competing in intercollegiate athletics and emphasize the values of integrity, fairness and competitiveness. The broad-based programs of the 14 Big Ten institutions will provide over $200 million in direct financial support to more than 9,500 students for more than 11,000 participation opportunities on 350 teams in 42 different sports. The Big Ten sponsors 28 official conference sports, 14 for men and 14 for women, including the addition of men’s ice hockey and men’s and women’s lacrosse since 2013. For more information, visit

About Indiana Sports Corp
Founded in 1979 as the nation’s first sports commission, Indiana Sports Corp is a not-for-profit organization focused on bringing premier sporting events to Indiana to drive economic vitality, facilitate a vibrant community with civic pride and garner positive media attention. Because of this, Indiana Sports Corp is able to provide positive, sports-related opportunities for youth in the community. For more information, please visit

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