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Four Blue Devils Earn ACC Postgraduate Awards
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 02/13/2012
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Daniels, Dunworth, Erickson-Kulas & Ward
Photo Courtesy: Duke Photography
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Four Blue Devils were recipients of postgraduate scholarships given by the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), as announced by Commissioner John D. Swofford on Monday.

The ACC named Duke's Sophia Dunworth (volleyball), Rory Erickson-Kulas (rowing) and Becca Ward (fencing) recipients of the Weaver-James-Corrigan Award, while Matt Daniels (football) was a recipient of the Weaver-James-Corrigan Honorary Award.

The Weaver-James-Corrigan and Jim and Pat Thacker scholarships are awarded to selected student-athletes - three from each league institution - who intend to pursue a graduate degree following completion of their undergraduate requirements. Each recipient will receive $5,000 to contribute to their graduate education. Those honored have performed with distinction in both the classroom and his/her respective sports, while demonstrating exemplary conduct in the community.

In addition to those receiving scholarship funds, six student-athletes - including Daniels - will receive the Weaver-James-Corrigan Honorary Award. These six will be recognized for their outstanding academic and athletic performance and intend to compete at the professional level.

The Weaver-James-Corrigan Award is named in honor of the late Jim Weaver and Bob James, as well as Gene Corrigan, all of whom are former ACC commissioners. The league's first commissioner, James H. Weaver, served the conference from 1954-70 after a stint as the Director of Athletics at Wake Forest University. His early leadership and uncompromising integrity are largely responsible for the excellent reputation enjoyed by the ACC today.

Robert C. James, a former University of Maryland football player, was named commissioner in 1971 and served in that capacity for 16 years. During his tenure, the league continued to grow in stature and became recognized as a national leader in athletics and academics, winning 23 national championships and maintaining standards of excellence in the classroom.

Eugene F. Corrigan assumed his role as the third full-time commissioner of September 1, 1987, and served until August of 1997. During Corrigan's tenure, ACC schools captured 30 NCAA championships and two national football titles.

Prior to 1994, the Weaver-James postgraduate scholarships were given as separate honors. The Jim Weaver Award, which originated in 1970, recognized exceptional achievement on the playing field and in the classroom, while the Bob James Award, established in 1987, also honored outstanding student-athletes.

The Thacker Award, which originated in 2005, is awarded in honor of the late Jim and Pat Thacker of Charlotte, N.C. Jim Thacker was the primary play-by-play announcer for the ACC's first television network. Recipients of the award must demonstrate outstanding performance both in athletic competition and in the classroom and intend to further their education through postgraduate studies at an ACC institution.

The 42 student-athletes will be honored on April 11, 2012 at the Guilford Ballroom at the Sheraton Greensboro Hotel at the Four Seasons.

Biographical Sketches of Award Winners

Sophia Dunworth; Duke; Biology; Volleyball; Pleasanton, Calif.

Dunworth was a four-year starter on the Duke volleyball team and one of the top attackers in school history. A versatile 6-1 outside hitter and middle blocker, Dunworth helped Duke capture two ACC Championships, four NCAA Tournament berths and ended her career ranked seventh on Duke's all-time kills list. She led Duke to its most successful postseason in school history in 2010 as the Blue Devils advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight where she was named to the NCAA All-Regional Team. Dunworth was even more successful in the classroom where she owns a 3.90 grade point average as a Biology major, was the 2010 ACC Volleyball Scholar-Athlete of the Year and a two-time Academic All-District III selection.

Matt Daniels; Duke; Public Policy; Football; Fayetteville, Ga.

Daniels had one of the best seasons by a Duke defensive back in school history as a senior, amassing 126 tackles, two interceptions, 14 pass breakups and a caused fumble as the fulcrum of the Blue Devil defense. He earned All-America second team and All-ACC first team honors while ranking third nationally in pass breakups, fifth in passes defended and third among all defensive backs with 9.82 tackles per game. Daniels started 36 consecutive games, played over 2,700 career snaps and is one of only 14 Duke players to record over 300 career tackles. He brought that same dedication to the classroom where he owns a 3.274 grade point average and is on pace to become a four-time member of the ACC Academic Honor Roll.

Rory Erickson-Kulas; Duke; Public Policy; Rowing; Naugatuck, Conn.

Erickson-Kulas has been a fixture of Duke's top boats since her freshman year. A 2010 All-ACC selection and a two-time member of the All-ACC Academic Rowing Team, Erickson-Kulas has powered the Duke varsity eight to back-to-back top-three finishes at the ACC Championships. She is also a two-time CRCA Rowing Scholar-Athlete selection and is pursuing a degree in Public Policy with a minor in History and Economics.

Becca Ward; Duke; Public Policy; Fencing; Portland, Ore.

Ward will end her college career as the most decorated fencer in Duke history and one of the best to ever grace an NCAA strip. A two-time NCAA Champion and a bronze medalist at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Ward is Duke's career and regular season wins record holder and boasts a 260-7 ledger during her four years. The 2009 and 2011 NCAA Women's Saber Champion and the 2010 NCAA Runner-Up, she earned All-America honors three times. She is also an Academic All-District III selection and a three-time member of the ACC Academic Honor Roll.