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Michigan State and Rutgers Student-Athletes Named 2021 Wayne Duke Award Recipients

$10,000 scholarship presented annually since 2008 to one Big Ten male and female 

INDIANAPOLIS – Lea Mitchell of Michigan State University and Kieran Mullins of Rutgers University have been chosen as this year’s Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award recipients, it was announced Thursday by the Big Ten Conference and Indiana Sports Corp. All Big Ten institutions were asked to nominate one female and one male student-athlete for the 2020-21 school year. Each recipient earns a $10,000 scholarship for their achievements in academics, athletics, extracurricular activities and leadership.

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. During the past 14 years, the award has contributed nearly $190,000 in scholarships.

Mitchell is a three-time captain and four-year member of the Michigan State gymnastics team and a 2020 first-team All-Big Ten selection. Mitchell maintains a 3.96 grade-point average, majoring in journalism with minors in broadcast journalism and sport journalism. In the gym, Mitchell has earned several awards, including the highest MSU point scorer and team MVP for the past three seasons, a Big Ten Gymnast to Watch, the school record for points as a freshman and MSU’s Newcomer of the Year honor that same season. 

In addition to her work in the gym, she is one of two representatives from the gymnastics team on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), a leadership committee organized to provide insight on the student-athlete experience. Mitchell is very active in her local community, volunteering with Teams for Toys, Children’s Miracle Network, Special Olympics, Student-Athlete Food Drives and Spartan Buddies. Mitchell currently plans to continue her education, pursuing her postgraduate degree in journalism. She is currently a member of Big Ten Network’s (BTN) Student U, where she has been able to gain various experiences within sports broadcasting at campus athletic events.

Mitchell is the second Spartan student-athlete to receive the Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award, following in the footsteps of last year’s male recipient, Scott Piper of the MSU men’s swimming & diving team.

Mullins is an All-American and a three-year captain of the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team. He holds a 3.8 GPA while majoring in cell biology and neuroscience with minors in health & society and sociology. He has been a member of the Dean’s List every semester to date, as well as a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, was selected as a Rutgers Interdisciplinary Research Team (IRT) Fellow, a Rutgers Postgraduate Big Ten scholarship recipient, a Senior CLASS Award nominee and received the RU Athletic Directors Award.

Outside of the classroom, Mullins is a patient transporter at Centrastate Healthcare System and a volunteer as a Crisis Text Line Counselor. Prior to his time as a Crisis Text Line Counselor, he served as a mentor with Rutgers Educational & Athletic Developmental Initiative, Rutgers Athletics Department’s RWJ Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital “Thanksgiving Day”, and Rutgers Recreation “Special Friends Day”.

Mullins’ accomplishments extend well beyond the classroom. He has received multiple accolades throughout his playing career, including a spot on the Tewaaraton Award Watch List, selections as an honorable mention All-American, two-time All-Big Ten and All-ECAC standout, a recipient of RU’s Alfred Sasser Trophy and Al Twitchell Award and being chosen as the Rutgers Freshman Male Athlete of the Year. Mullins currently has 99 goals and 179 points, putting him in position to graduate among the top scorers in the 100-year history of the Rutgers men’s lacrosse program.

Mullins is the third Rutgers student-athlete, and second men’s lacrosse standout, chosen for the Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award since RU joined the Big Ten in 2014-15. Campbell Sode (men’s lacrosse) was the 2015 male recipient, while Emily Mills (women’s golf) received the women’s award in 2018.

“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 Ryan Vaughn. “Both of the honorees have demonstrated impressive leadership skills, academic and athletic performance as well 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 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.

2021 Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award Nominees:

University of Illinois: Michael Carr, Wrestling; Katie Wingerter, Softball
Indiana University: Gary Kostbade, Men’s Swimming & Diving; Ali Patberg, Women’s Basketball 
University of Iowa: Kaleb Young, Wrestling
University of Maryland: Hunter Baxter, Wrestling; Catherine May, Women’s Lacrosse
University of Michigan: Natalie Rodriguez, Softball 
Michigan State University: Austin Kamer, Men’s Ice Hockey; Lea Mitchell, Women’s Gymnastics
University of Minnesota: Colton Dee, Men’s Gymnastics; Lorean Murray, Women’s Track & Field 
University of Nebraska: Evan Hymanson, Men’s Gymnastics; Abigail Knapton, Women’s Swimming & Diving 
Northwestern University: Jesse Brown, Football; Marta Molina, Women’s Fencing
Ohio State University: Austin Pooley, Men’s Ice Hockey; Lauren Witte, Women’s Volleyball
Penn State University: Hayden Harlow, Men’s Swimming & Diving; Kerry Abello, Women’s Soccer
Purdue University: Gabriel Gomez, Men’s Swimming & Diving; Hannah Melchiorre, Women’s Soccer 
Rutgers University: Kieran Mullins, Men’s Lacrosse; Gianna Glatz, Field Hockey
University of Wisconsin: Sven Kleinhans, Men’s Soccer; Alyssa Gromala, Women’s Golf 

Previous Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award Recipients:

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 & 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/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/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