Tracking the Boilermakers

July 9, 2015 By Tom Schott
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Sixty-three Purdue student-athletes were acknowledged as Distinguished Scholar Award recipients by the Big Ten Conference on Wednesday.

Big Ten faculty representatives established the Distinguished Scholar Award in 2008 to supplement the Academic All-Big Ten program. Similar to the Academic All-Big Ten honor, Distinguished Scholar Award recipients must be letterwinners in at least their second academic year at their institution. However, the Distinguished Scholar Award encompasses only student-athletes with a minimum grade-point average of 3.7 or higher for the previous academic year, excluding summer school.

You can read more about the Distinguished Scholar Award and see the list of Purdue honorees here.

Get Your Season Tickets

Season tickets are still available for the upcoming football, volleyball, men's basketball and women's basketball seasons.

They are easy to purchase here.

In addition, for football, there are two attractive mini plans. Single-game tickets also are on sale.

Swanigan Wins Another Gold Medal

For the second straight year, Caleb Swanigan has helped USA Basketball to a gold medal in the FIBA World Championships, aiding the United States to the U19 World Championship.

An incoming freshman, Swanigan finished the tournament by averaging 6.1 points and 4.4 rebounds in 14 minutes per game. He shot 60 percent from the field (15 of 25) and 65 percent from the free throw line (13 of 20) while also contributing five blocked shots, four assists and three steals.

A year ago, Swanigan was part of the U17 team that won the 2014 World Championship.

Volleyball Summer Stories

Volleyball rising senior Amanda Neill won a silver medal with the Collegiate National Team program last month in New Orleans. Neill's Team Red fell to Team Blue 25-21, 25-20, 19-25, 25-23 in the first-place match. Sophomore-to-be Azariah Stahl also was selected to the program, but was unable to participate due to illness.

Meanwhile, you can read about redshirt sophomore-to-be setter Ashley Evans' trip to China in June as part of the U.S. Collegiate National Team-China tour here and about rising senior outside hitter Annie Drews' trip to Europe in June as a member of the inaugural Big Ten Volleyball Foreign Tour team here.

The Boilermakers will reveal their new uniforms for the upcoming season at 1 p.m. Tuesday, July 14, on Belin Court in Holloway Gymnasium.

Wittgren, Perkins Minor League Baseball All-Stars

Former baseball players Nick Wittgren (2011-12) and Cameron Perkins (2010-12) have been selected Minor League Baseball All-Stars.

Wittgren, who pitches for the New Orleans Zephyrs (Miami Marlins affiliate), will play for the Pacific Coast League team in the Triple-A All-Star Game against the International League on July 15 in Omaha, Nebraska.

Perkins, an outfielder for the Reading Fightin' Phils (Philadelphia Phillies affiliate), will play for the Eastern Division team in the Double-A Eastern League All-Star Game also on July 15 in Portland, Maine.

Mike Birck: 1938-2015

Former baseball player Mike Birck (1959-60), an honorary member of the Purdue Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame, passed away July 6. He was 77.

Birck served on the university's Board of Trustees for 14 years (1999-2013), playing significant roles in two major fundraising campaigns (Vision 21 and Campaign for Purdue), which combined to provide a huge improvement in the university's infrastructure. He also was a major participant financially, providing much of the funding for the Birck Nanotechnology Center and Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex, along with a significant gift to the Mackey Complex project for which he served on the leadership steering committee.

"Mike Birck, like all great businessmen, was first of all a creator of jobs and wealth for others," Purdue President Mitch Daniels said. "He shared his wisdom and his own wealth with Purdue with enormous generosity. We are all so fortunate to have known him, and we will miss him dearly."

Birck came to Purdue from Missoula, Montana, and earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1960 and subsequently a master's in the same discipline from New York University in 1962. He went on to serve as president and CEO of Tellabs, Inc., in Chicago for more than 25 years, winning numerous awards both at Purdue and in the Chicago area, including induction into the Chicago Business Hall of Fame.

He was director of the Economics Club of Chicago and was actively involved with the United Way/Crusade of Mercy in Chicago while also serving on the board for the Lincoln Foundation for Business Excellence and the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.

Birck was inducted into the Purdue Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame in April of 2015. He previously was honored by Purdue as a Distinguished Engineering Alumnus in 1991 and was given an honorary doctorate of engineering in 1995.

Birck is survived by his wife, Katherine, three children -- Kevin, Joni and Christopher -- and seven grandchildren.

Visitation is from 3 to 9 p.m. CT Friday at Sullivan Funeral Home, 60 S. Grant St., Hinsdale, Illinois. Funeral is 10 a.m. CT Saturday at St. Isaac Jogues Church, 306 W. Fourth St. (and Clay), Hinsdale.


Rising senior Robert Kugler has been named to the watch list for the Rimington Trophy, presented annually to the nation's top center. Kugler has started 31 consecutive games at the position. He is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and a two-time Academic All-District V honoree ... Another senior-to-be, kicker Paul Griggs, has been named to the watch list for the Lou Groza Award, which is college football's top kicking honor. A two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, Griggs made 16 of 20 field goals last year and became the first kicker in school history to connect on three field goals beyond 50 yards in a single season ... Sophomore-to-be Marat Amaltdinov finished in 10th place in the 200 breaststroke earlier this week at the World University Games in South Korea ... Sophomore-to-be Steele Johnson and former Purdue diver David Boudia (2009-11) will represent the Boilermakers at the FINA World Championships in Russia from July 24 to Aug. 9. They will compete together in synchronized 10-meter after winning the title at the USA Diving Synchronized National Championships in April. Boudia also will compete individually on 10-meter at the World Championships ... Senior-to-be golfer Stuart Macdonald has qualified for the U.S. Amateur Championship, which runs Aug. 17 to 23 at Olympia Fields Country Club in Olympia Fields, Illinois ... Seventeen members of the swimming & diving programs have been recognized as Scholar All-Americans by the CSCAA for excelling as student-athletes in both the pool and classroom. All 17 Boilermakers were owners of 3.5 grade-point averages or better during the 2014-15 school year and/or cumulatively. Nine of the 17 were recognized as full-fledged Scholar All-Americans by also qualifying for the NCAA Championships. The other eight garnered honorable mention acclaim after posting an NCAA provisional qualifying "B Cut" time in at least one individual event. You can see the lists here ... Women's golf had three student-athletes named All-American Scholars by the Women's Golf Coaches Association: 2015 senior Johanna TillstrÓ§m, senior-to-be Anna Appert Lund and junior-to-be August Kim ... The Big Ten led the nation in men's basketball attendance for the 39th consecutive season with an average of 12,781 fans. Purdue ranked 32nd among all schools with an average of 11,523 fans per home game. On the women's side, the Big Ten ranked second with a record 948,935 fans. Purdue led the way among conference schools with an average of 6,279 fans per game to rank ninth nationally ... Chris Peludat has been promoted to associate athletics director -- marketing and ticketing, while Colleen Garrity has been promoted to assistant fiscal director ... Tracking the Boilermakers will return July 24.

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