June 21, 2008



Nation’s Premier Award for Seniors Presented at NCAA® Men’s College World Series®

(Omaha, NE) – Rice University pitcher Cole St.Clair, who returned for his senior season after being drafted and helped lead the Owls into this year’s NCAA Men’s College World Series, has been selected as the winner of the 2008 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award in the baseball division. The award, chosen by a nationwide vote of coaches, media and fans, is presented annually to college baseball’s outstanding NCAA Division I senior student-athlete.

The announcement and trophy presentation was made today by Lowe’s, an official corporate partner of the NCAA, during the 2008 NCAA Men’s College World Series in Omaha, NE. This marks the second year for the baseball division of the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award. Emeel Salem of the University of Alabama was the inaugural winner in 2007.

An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award has grown into the nation’s premier tribute to college seniors. The award identifies personal qualities that define a complete student-athlete, with criteria including excellence in the classroom, character and community, as well as the candidate’s performance on the field.

“I am honored to receive this prestigious award with such a rich history,” said St.Clair. “I know that a lot of effort was expended in the voting process by the dedicated Rice fans, my friends, and family and I truly appreciate their efforts.”

Since moving to the bullpen full-time in March, St. Clair became one of the nation’s most dominating closers, posting a Conference USA-leading 10 wins with a 2.09 ERA in 21 relief appearances. During that span, he held opposing hitters to a .204 batting average. His strong performance down the stretch played a big role in Rice winning its super regional and earning a trip to Omaha for the prestigious NCAA Men’s College World Series.

St. Clair, an economics major at Rice with a 3.22 GPA, received his bachelor’s degree on May 10, 2008. His classroom achievements include becoming a three-time Conference USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll member. He was also named the recipient of the 2008 Bob Quin Award, given to the most outstanding senior student-athlete at Rice who exemplifies leadership and academic and athletic excellence.

In the community, St. Clair has raised money for a local Houston neighborhood center to sponsor a family for Christmas. He also assisted with the baseball team’s clothing drive for the Star of Hope Foundation in Houston. While in Omaha, he visited with and gave advice to several young men from the Omaha School for Boys, a residential group home for at-risk school-aged boys.

“Having Cole return to the team after getting drafted last year was critical for the team,” said Rice head coach Wayne Graham. “Everyone sees how well he can pitch and how he can change a game, but he is a leader for us whether he is in the game or not. His character, and how he prepares and carries himself, is important for younger players to see and be around every day. He is an outstanding student who graduated from Rice, one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the country, in four years - while playing Division I baseball. Cole is a positive influence, on the team and in the community. I don’t know if there could be a more deserving player of this prestigious award.”

The Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award also names an All-Senior All-America Team each year based on voting results of the finalists. Joining St.Clair on the 2008 first team is: Josh Meents, Air Force; Charlie Mellies, Wake Forest; Rob Musgrave, Wichita State and Brett Scott, Kansas State. The second team includes Eitan Barbalat, Bradley; Jason Buursma, Bucknell; Jarod Freeman, Oklahoma; Ryan Hastings, Illinois and Tyler Stovall, Central Michigan.

“The Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award is a prestigious award within collegiate athletics because it focuses on the total student-athlete,” said Bob Gfeller, senior vice president of marketing and advertising at Lowe’s. “Nationwide, talented athletes compete every day, but Lowe’s believes those individuals who are equally dedicated in the classroom and in their communities make the real difference with their abilities. Lowe’s salutes Cole, a true student-athlete, for using his platform in athletics to make an impact on those around him and congratulates him for being the 2008 award winner in baseball.”

Sportscaster Dick Enberg, Honorary Chairman of the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, first conceived the idea of an award for seniors in 2001 in response to the growing trend of men’s basketball players leaving school early for the NBA. Lowe’s, expanded the Senior CLASS Award program in 2007 to include NCAA Division I men’s and women’s soccer, men’s ice hockey, men’s lacrosse, baseball and softball in addition to men’s and women’s basketball.

“Recognizing the many achievements of student-athletes is a goal the NCAA proudly shares with our corporate partner Lowe’s,” said Greg Shaheen, NCAA Senior Vice President for Basketball and Business Strategies. “The Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award places a spotlight on the quality attributes of our future student-athlete graduates. The NCAA is proud to honor student-athlete leaders who have demonstrated a commitment to excel on the field of competition while they earn their degrees.”