Athletics wins trifecta of top PBC awards

The University of North Georgia captured the school’s first-ever Peach Belt Conference Commissioner’s Cup at the league’s annual awards dinner in Hilton Head in May. The Commissioner’s Cup is annually awarded to the league’s most successful overall athletic department. The Nighthawks’ previous best finish was third in 2015.
UNG capped a remarkably successful athletic season with three top Peach Belt Conference (PBC) awards this year — the Commissioner’s Cup, the Presidents’ Academic Award and the LeeAnn Noble Make-A-Wish Award.

The trio of awards recognize the university’s athletic achievement, academic excellence and community involvement.

“The University of North Georgia is honored to be able to accept these three awards tonight,” Director of Athletics Lindsay Reeves said. “The honors are a testament to our all-around commitment to success – on the field, in the classroom and in the community.”

The Commissioner’s Cup, which is presented annually to the best overall athletic department based on regular-season standings and select championships, is the first-ever for the UNG athletic department. UNG’s previous best finish was third in 2015.

Last season, UNG earned regular-season conference championships in baseball and softball and several UNG teams finished their seasons ranked in the top five in the conference: women’s cross country team, second at the PBC championships; men’s soccer, tied for second; women’s soccer, tied for second; women’s track & field, third; women’s tennis, tied for fourth; and men’s tennis, fourth.

Photo above: (left to right): Dave Brunk, PBC Commissioner; Lindsay Reeves, UNG Athletic Director; Mary Rob Plunkett, UNG Assistant Athletic Director/SWA; Janet Marling, executive director of National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students.
The Presidents’ Academic Award recognizes the academic excellence of an institution’s student-athletes by honoring them for exceeding the GPA of the student body at their own school. In comparing the overall GPA of UNG’s student-athletes to the average GPA of the university’s undergraduate students, UNG’s student-athletes had the highest ratio in the conference at 1.09375; at 13 of the 14 PBC member institutions the student-athletes had, on average, a better GPA than the general student body.

The LeeAnn Noble Make-A-Wish Award recognizes the institution that raises the most funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The award, given for the 2015-16 season, is the eighth-straight time UNG has won for most funds raised. The Nighthawks have hit the five-digit mark in giving for seven-straight years and remain the only PBC university to do so.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses. The NCAA Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, which is the primary student-based group that contributes to policy-making for the division, established the Make-A-Wish partnership in 2003 and has since become one of the foundation’s largest and most consistent contributors.

The PBC Make-A-Wish awards were renamed the LeeAnn Noble Make-A-Wish Awards following Noble’s death in 2014.  Noble was a member of the women’s golf team at UNG and former Make-A-Wish recipient who appeared on the cover of NCAA Champion Magazine in 2013.