Rutgers University and University of Nebraska Student-Athletes Named 2018 Wayne Duke Award Recipients

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INDIANAPOLIS. – Chris Weber of the University of Nebraska and Emily Mills of Rutgers University have been chosen as this year’s Wayne Duke Award recipients. The award is an annual scholarship recognizing one male and one female Big Ten senior pursuing a postgraduate degree for achievements in academics, athletics, extracurricular activities and leadership.

“This year we are not only celebrating the 10th anniversary of the scholarship, but we also continue to celebrate Wayne’s contributions to the conference. The two student-athletes chosen truly embody his message of not only being able to perform well on their perspective field of play, but also in the classroom,” said Jerry Semler, Chair of the Wayne Duke Award Selection Committee.

Weber started out as a football walk-on for Nebraska in the linebacker position and made his way up the ranks. He became a scholarship student-athlete in January 2016 and was a captain for the 2017-18 season. Off the field, Weber majored in nutrition science with minors in mathematics and business. Currently, he’s holding a 3.96 grade point average and has plans to continue his education at the Nebraska Medical Center beginning this August.

Outside the classroom and off the field, Weber spent some of his time with doctors over the last couple of the years gaining skills that will be applicable this upcoming fall. For the past four years, he acted as the president of the Nebraska Uplifting Athletes program and helped raise nearly $125,000 for pediatric brain cancer research.

Mills, a senior at Rutgers, played golf during her time at the university and currently holds a 3.95 GPA while double-majoring in neuroscience and cell biology with a minor in business administration. Her post-graduate goal is to attend medical school this upcoming fall. She has been accepted to Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and Penn State’s Medical School with hopes to hear from a few other places before making her decision.

When she is not lining up the perfect shot or in the books she has spent her time volunteering with the Foundation For International Medical Relief of Children in Huancayo, Peru. She has taken­­­­ part in more than 250 hours of research with the Cancer Institute of New Jersey Undergraduate program and completed 132 volunteer hours with her teammates.

Mills and Weber will be recognized in Indianapolis during the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament on Saturday, March 3rd.

In recognition of the Big Ten’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. Each Big Ten institution was asked to nominate one male and one female student for 2017, with a $10,000 scholarship awarded to each winner. Over the past 11 years the award has contributed nearly $170,000 in scholarships.


“Indiana Sports Corp is proud to be a part of not only the tournament, but the presentation of this award. It gives the youth participating in this weekend’s clinics a positive image of what they can pursue in the future as student-athletes,” said Indiana Sports Corp President, Ryan Vaughn.

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

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, City of Indianapolis, Indiana Sports Corp, Pacers Sports & Entertainment and Visit Indy.

2018 Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award Nominees:

University of Illinois:  Anthony Zea, Men’s Track and Field; Sara McKeeman, Women’s Track and Field

Indiana University: Marie Chamberlin, Women’s Swimming

University of Iowa: JoElla Guagliardo, Field Hockey

University of Maryland: Alexander Leto, Men’s Track and Field; Kristen Confroy, Women’s Basketball

University of Michigan: Carolyn McCann, Women’s Swimming

Michigan State University: James Cantela, Men’s Soccer; Lea Foerster, Softball

University of Minnesota: Yaroslav Pochinka Men’s Gymnastics; Sabrine Garrison, Women’s Golf

University of Nebraska: Chris Weber, Football; Sydney Townsend, Women’s Volleyball

Northwestern University: Riley Kelliher, Men’s Soccer; Sabrina Rabin, Softball

Ohio State University:  Brayden Seal, Men’s Swimming; Elizabeth Auckley, Women’s Swimming

Penn State University: Brandon Smith, Football; McKayla Mawn, Women’s Swimming and Diving

Purdue University: LaSalle “P.J.” Thompson, Men’s Basketball; Maya Hughes, Softball

Rutgers University:  Michael Rexrode, Men’s Lacrosse; Emily Mills, Women’s Golf

University of Wisconsin: Peter Roy, Football; Liliana Hansen, Women’s Open-Weight Rowing


Previous Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award Recipients:

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

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 and Field

2012: Miguel Pineda, Penn State, Men’s Gymnastics; Margaux Farrell, Indiana, Women’s Swimming

2011: Mike Torchia, Minnesota, Men’s Cross Country and Track and Field; Allie Smith, Purdue, Women’s Swimming

2010: Mark Ison, Northwestern, Football; Chelsea Davis, Ohio State, Women’s 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


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

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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