April 15, 2009

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(Kansas City, MO) – Ten of NCAA baseball’s most successful senior student-athletes, who have committed four years of excellence both on and off the playing field, have been selected as finalists for the 2009 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award in the baseball division. 

Nationwide balloting begins immediately to determine the third annual winner, who will receive the award from Lowe’s, an Official Corporate Sponsor of the NCAA, during the NCAA Men’s College World Series this June in Omaha, Nebraska.

The finalists were chosen by a media committee from a list of 30 candidates based on qualities that define a complete student-athlete.  These four primary areas of criteria include:  classroom, community, character and competition.

The 2009 finalists are: Scott Bittle, University of Mississippi; Brian Cloud, Texas Tech University; Grant Escue, Bradley University; Nick Faunce, University of Kansas; Nate Freiman, Duke University; Jason Haniger, Georgia Institute of Technology; Brandon McArthur, University of Florida; Matt Nohelty, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; Ben Orloff, University of California–Irvine; and Adam Warren, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

These 10 names will be placed on the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award baseball ballot for a nationwide vote beginning today and concluding May 31. Fan balloting, available on the award’s official website http://www.seniorclassaward.com, will be combined with votes from coaches, media and sponsors to determine the recipient of the award.

“These ten student-athletes are to be commended for their all-around outstanding achievements as on and off of the field,” said Bob Gfeller, Lowe’s senior vice president of marketing. “Lowe’s is proud of its affiliation with the NCAA and college athletics, and we are pleased to honor these individuals who have displayed a commitment to character, community and the classroom in addition to their competition on the baseball field.”

An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award has developed into the nation’s premier tribute to college seniors.  The award, which launched in 2001 with college basketball, is now in its third year for baseball.  University of Alabama infielder Emeel Salem won the inaugural baseball award in 2007 and Rice University pitcher Cole St.Clair was the 2008 recipient.

The idea of an award to salute collegiate seniors was conceived by sportscaster Dick Enberg, who continues to serve as Honorary Chairman.  It was inspired by the trend of college basketball players leaving college early to turn professional.  The Senior CLASS Award was formed to honor senior student-athletes who fulfill their entire collegiate athletic eligibility, earn a college degree and give back to their community. 

Lowe’s, an official Corporate Partner of the NCAA, expanded the award in 2007 to include six other NCAA Division I sports:  men’s hockey, men’s lacrosse, baseball, softball, men’s soccer and women’s soccer. Football (Bowl Subdivision) was added in 2008 to bring the total sports affiliated with the award to nine.