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Rockets win MAC Institutional Academic Award with 3.266 GPA

The University of Toledo has been named the recipient of the 2017-18 Mid-American Conference Institutional Academic Achievement Award, the conference office announced today. For the past academic year, UT’s student-athletes posted a school-record grade point average of 3.266.

It is the fifth time in the last seven years that the Rockets have won the award.

“Establishing the record for highest grade point average in school history and earning the MAC Institutional Academic Award is a wonderful achievement by our student-athletes,” said UT Vice President and Athletic Director Mike O’Brien. “I’m especially proud of the tradition of academic excellence that we have established at The University of Toledo. Earning the MAC Institutional Academic Award for the fifth time in the last seven years is an indication of the consistent effort and determination of our student-athletes to excel in the classroom.

“This honor is also shared by the coaches, classroom instructors and the Student Athletic Academic Services staff who all work so hard in mentoring and nurturing our student-athletes.”

The MAC Institutional Academic Achievement Award is presented annually to the conference institution that achieves the highest overall institutional GPA for student-athletes competing in institutionally sponsored sports for the academic year.

Last week, the Mid-American Conference recognized Toledo with the Faculty Athletics Representative Women’s Academic Achievement Award. The awards recognize the conference institution with the highest overall grade point average rank for both men’s and women’s student-athletes.

MAC Institutional Academic Achievement Award
2017-18 – University of Toledo
2016-17 – Western Michigan University
2015-16 – University of Toledo
2014-15 – University of Toledo

2013-14 – Miami University
2012-13 – University of Toledo
2011-12 – University of Toledo

2010-11 – University of Akron
2009-10 – Bowling Green State University
2008-09 – Ball State University
2007-08 – Northern Illinois University
2006-07 – Central Michigan University
2005-06 – Central Michigan University
2004-05 – Central Michigan University
2003-04 – Central Michigan University
2002-03 – Central Michigan University
2001-02 – Central Michigan University
2000-01 – Bowling Green State University
1999-00 – Central Michigan University
1998-99 – Central Michigan University
1997-98 – Central Michigan University
1996-97 – Ball State University / Central Michigan University (tie)
1995-96 – Bowling Green State University
1994-95 – Bowling Green State University

Rockets ready to defend Mid-American Conference crown

See you at the game! As Toledo sets out to defend its 2017 Mid-American Conference title, six of the Rockets’ seven home games will be played in September and October.

Highlighting the home slate is a Sept. 15 matchup with Miami (Fla.). The Hurricanes currently are ranked No. 8 in the country and could potentially be in the top 10 when they visit the Glass Bowl next month.

The Rockets also will host the Battle of I-75 against archrival Bowling Green Saturday, Oct. 6. That game also will be Homecoming for Toledo. The Rockets have won eight consecutive games vs. the Falcons, evening the all-time series at 39-39-4.

Four games on Toledo’s 2018 schedule are set for national TV broadcast; additional TV contests could be added later. The four national TV games are Oct. 25 at Western Michigan (ESPN2 or CBS Sports Network); Oct. 31 vs. Ball State (ESPN2); Nov. 7 at Northern Illinois (ESPN2 or ESPNU); and Nov. 15 at Kent State (CBSSN).

Toledo opens its season with three consecutive home games, beginning with Virginia Military Institute Saturday, Sept. 1. Following a bye week, the Rockets will host Miami Sept. 15 and Nevada Sept. 22.

UT closes out the non-conference portion of its schedule with a trip to Fresno State Sept. 29.

In addition to Bowling Green, Mid-American Conference opponents coming to the Glass Bowl are Buffalo (Oct. 20), Ball State (Oct. 31) and Central Michigan (Nov. 23).

UT will hit the road to face Eastern Michigan (Oct. 13), Western Michigan (Oct. 25), Northern Illinois (Nov. 7) and Kent State (Nov. 15).

Head Coach Jason Candle’s 2018 team returns 14 starters from last season’s MAC Championship squad, including one of the best receiving corps in the nation. Senior wide receiver Cody Thompson, who returns for his fifth season following an injury in 2017, was a first-team All-MAC selection in 2016. He has caught 133 passes and 20 TD passes in his Rocket career. Junior Diontae Johnson was a first-team All-MAC choice in 2017, catching 72 passes for a school-record 1,257 yards and 13 scores. Senior Jon’Vea Johnson has caught 82 passes and 15 touchdowns over the past two seasons.

“We built our scheme to match our players in years past and have been very successful in doing that — offensively, defensively and in the kicking game. The challenges remain the same as we approach this year, too,” Candle said.

“The fun part is to get the moving pieces in the right place to keep all the arrows in your program headed in the right direction. That’s where you go from a good team to a great team, if you can get all those arrows going in the right direction and get everybody on the same page. That’s what we’re constantly working to do each and every day.”

Season tickets are on sale at the UT Athletic Ticket Office, online at utrockets.com or at 419.530.GOLD (4653). Faculty and staff can buy tickets half off with ID, and UT students are admitted free with ID.

Toledo introduces Stadium Drive Live for 2018 football season

The University of Toledo will introduce a new pregame event for fans this football season called Stadium Drive Live, presented by iHeart Radio.

Stadium Drive Live, which is free to attend, will take place prior to the first five Saturday home games of the 2018 football season and provide a community tailgate for all Rocket football fans.

Opening three hours prior to kickoff, Stadium Drive Live will give fans a chance to play tailgate games and listen to live music performances on the Battery Wholesale stage. Fans will be able to purchase food and beverages from Aramark’s Tailgate Gourmet II booth, which will offer grilled hamburgers and hot dogs as well as other items, in addition to other food trucks and the Bud Light Beer Garden.

Stadium Drive Live will be located adjacent to the Glass Bowl on Stadium Drive. With the street closures to accommodate Stadium Drive Live, fans with parking passes for lots 3, 4, 5, 6 and 10 will be instructed to enter their respective parking areas the following ways:

• For lots 3, 4, 5, and 6: Enter off Douglas Road through parking lot 4.

• For lot 10: Enter off Douglas Road from East Rocket Drive to Stadium Drive, and then enter lot 10 through the south entrance right before the crosswalk near the Rocket and Larimer complex.

Listed by date, musical acts to perform at Stadium Drive Live on the stage Powered by Battery Wholesale will be:

• Sept. 1 (Virginia Military Institute) — Kentucky Chrome;

• Sept. 15 (Miami) — Last Born Sons;

• Sept. 22 (Nevada) — Andrew Ellis;

• Oct. 6 (Bowling Green) — Distant Cousinz; and

• Oct. 20 (Buffalo) — Arctic Clam.

Stadium Drive Live is sponsored by iHeart Radio, Battery Wholesale, Bud Light, Treu House of Munch and Ace Sanitation.

Individual and season tickets for the 2018 season are on sale. Stop by the UT Athletic Ticket Office, located in the Sullivan Athletic Complex at Savage Arena, go online at utrockets.com, or call 419.530.GOLD (4653).

UT student IDs to be scanned for admission to Glass Bowl in 2018

A new system for University of Toledo students to gain admission into Rocket football games in the Glass Bowl is being implemented this season.

UT students will continue to be admitted free for all Rocket home sporting events. For entry into the Glass Bowl, students will be required to have their current IDs scanned at the southwest and southeast gates prior to heading to the Launch Pad Student Section (11-21).

Gates will open 90 minutes prior to kickoff with admission based on availability.

The Rockets have seven home games in the 2018 season, including home games vs. Miami (Fla.) Sept. 15 and Bowling Green Oct. 6.

For more information, students may contact the Athletic Ticket Office at 419.530.GOLD (4653).

VP/athletic director named to NCAA Division I Basketball Committee

University of Toledo Vice President and Director of Athletics Mike O’Brien has been appointed to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee, the National Collegiate Athletic Association announced on Friday.

O’Brien replaces Ohio University Athletic Director Jim Schaus, who just finished his third year on the committee and is resigning to spend more time on campus. O’Brien will serve the remaining two years on Schaus’ original five-year appointment, which began in 2015.


The 10-member NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Committee is responsible for selecting, seeding and bracketing the field for the NCAA Tournament. School and conference administrators are nominated by their conference, serve five-year terms, and represent a cross-section of the Division I membership.

“I am deeply honored to be appointed to represent The University of Toledo and the Mid-American Conference as a member of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee,” O’Brien said. “I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity to join the tremendous group of people who serve on this very important committee. I especially want to thank the NCAA’s senior vice president for basketball, Dan Gavitt, for this opportunity. I began my career in athletics as a basketball coach, so it is very exciting and gratifying for me to be a part of the committee that selects the field for one of the greatest sporting events in the world, the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.”

“We’re pleased to welcome Mike O’Brien to the men’s basketball committee,” Gavitt said. “Mike is highly respected by his peers as an athletic director with a long tenure at Toledo and a deep history of NCAA committee service. Having started his career as a college assistant basketball coach, Mike has great passion and feel for the game.”

O’Brien is in his 17th year as the athletic director at the University. During his tenure, he has helped shape the UT Athletics program into one of the very best in the Mid-American Conference. His tenure has seen unprecedented athletic and academic achievements of UT’s student-athletes, as well as numerous ambitious capital projects that have elevated the University’s status as one of the top mid-major athletic programs in the country.

Under O’Brien’s watch, the Rockets have won or shared 33 league titles in nine different sports, including championships in football and women’s soccer last season. The Rockets have won the Jacoby Trophy as the MAC’s top women’s athletic program twice in O’Brien’s reign, in 2011-12 and 2017-18.

In the classroom, UT has produced overall department grade point averages above a 3.2 in each of the past seven semesters, and above a 3.1 in the past 19 consecutive semesters. Rocket student-athletes had a combined GPA of 3.266 in 2017-18, including a school record 3.290 in the 2017 fall semester. UT women’s athletes won the MAC’s Faculty Athletic Representatives Award for the highest combined GPA in 2017-18. UT has won the Mid-American Conference Institutional Academic Achievement Award, presented annually to the school with the highest grade point average, in four of the last six years. In 2011-12, UT won the Cartwright Award, given annually to the MAC athletic program with the highest degree of excellence in academics, athletics and citizenship.

Capital projects secured during O’Brien’s tenure include the Charles A. Sullivan Athletic Complex construction and Savage Arena renovation project (2008); Fetterman Training Center construction (2010); Glass Bowl and Larimer Athletic Complex renovations (2016); as well as updates to soccer (2004), tennis (2006), and track and field (2010).

O’Brien received national recognition for his accomplishments from the National Association of College Directors of Athletics at its convention in June 2012 when he was named the Football Bowl Subdivision Northeast Region Athletic Director of the Year. O’Brien, who has the second-longest tenure among MAC athletic directors, previously served on the NCAA Division I Council from 2015 to 2018, where he worked on the Competition Oversight Committee. He also chairs the MAC Football Coaches Committee and was the conference’s athletic director representative to the College Football Playoff Committee (formerly the Bowl Championship Series). He also has served as the chair of the Mid-American Conference Athletic Director’s Committee and was a member of the NCAA Division I Football Issues Committee.

Rockets share joy of victory with area special needs students

The University of Toledo football program hosted its fifth annual “Victory Day” for special needs students Aug. 19 in the Glass Bowl.

Participating students met UT football players, ran drills, and heard their names announced over the public address system as they scored a touchdown.

The Rockets hosted their fifth annual Victory Day Aug. 19 in the Glass Bowl.

Victory Day is an opportunity for special needs students to have their moment in the sun on the football field. Each student was partnered with a UT football player who served as his or her mentor for the day. Victory Day athletes wore Rocket T-shirts and were presented with medals at the end of the day to commemorate their victory.

Toledo football players, cheerleaders, Rocky the Rocket and marching band members were on hand to cheer on the participants.

“This is a humbling day and humbling experience for our players. It’s something our guys look forward to every year,” said UT Head Coach Jason Candle. “Victory Day comes at a perfect time for us — right in the middle of the grind of training camp. This is a perfect way to put things in perspective and make us realize how grateful we should be to be able to do what we love each and every day. It’s great to watch these young people come out here and have a smile on their face all afternoon as they interact with our players. It’s a tremendous day all around.”

Victory Day was started in 2010 by Aaron Segedi, a teacher and football coach from Trenton, Mich., a cancer survivor whose life was saved thanks to a liver donation from his sister, Rhonda. Since then, the Victory Day program has been adopted by high schools and universities in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

The Rockets first celebrated Victory Day came in 2014.

UT women win Faculty Athletics Representative Award for highest GPA in MAC

University of Toledo female student-athletes have been named the recipients of the 2017-18 Mid-American Conference Faculty Athletics Representative Academic Achievement Award, the conference office announced today.

The Faculty Athletics Representative Academic Achievement Awards recognize the conference institution with the highest overall grade point average rank for both men’s and women’s student-athletes.

This is the first time the UT women have won the award. The UT men have won the award three times.

The conference faculty athletic representatives worked with the conference’s athletic academic advisors to compute an award that best represents the academic achievement of student-athletes in a competitive setting. Using the same ranking method as the longtime Reese and Jacoby trophies (traditionally awarded to the best overall male and female athletic programs in the MAC), the Faculty Athletics Representative Academic Achievement Awards are given to those institutions’ male and female programs with the highest overall GPA rank points within the conference. Only MAC-sponsored sports are used.

Toledo had the highest GPA rank as the Rockets women carried the highest league GPA in women’s golf, while posting the second-highest GPA rank in women’s soccer and women’s tennis, and the third-best GPA rank in women’s cross country and women’s track and field during the 2017-18 academic year.

“We want to extend our congratulations to all our women’s sports for earning the Faculty Athletics Representative Academic Achievement Award,” said Vice President and Athletic Director Mike O’Brien. “We take great pride in the academic success of our student-athletes. An achievement like this is a testimony to their hard work and dedication, as well as the tremendous support of coaches, administrators and faculty.”

The MAC Institutional Achievement Award, which honors the school with the best overall GPA rank for all men’s and women’s sports, will be announced Tuesday, Aug. 28.

2017-18 Toledo Women’s Sports GPA by Sport
Basketball – 3.323
Cross Country – 3.646
Golf – 3.722
Soccer – 3.575
Softball – 3.349
Swimming and Diving – 3.494
Tennis – 3.546
Track and Field – 3.376
Volleyball – 3.582

Lottery system to be used for Miami, BGSU student guest football tickets

The University of Toledo Ticket Office will sell 200 student guest tickets through a lottery system for the Rockets’ home games vs. Miami on Sept. 15 and Bowling Green on Oct. 6.

Lottery winners will be able to purchase two tickets at a $10 discount for each one bought — $48 vs. Miami and $28 vs. Bowling Green.

For the Miami game, students can register from Monday, Aug. 27, through 5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5.

For the Bowling Green game, students can register for the lottery from Monday, Aug. 27, through 5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26.

To register for the lottery, students can go to utrockets.com/utstudentlottery and provide a UT student email and Rocket number.

Winners will be notified two days after registration for the lottery closes.

Lottery winners for the Miami game will be able to purchase tickets at the UT Ticket Office Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 10-11.

The lottery winners for the Bowling Green contest can purchase their tickets at the UT Ticket Office Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 1-2.

Students will need to show a valid UT ID at the time of purchase and also will need to enter the Glass Bowl with their guest and their student ID. Failure to claim your ticket within the 48-hour window will forfeit your opportunity to purchase a lottery ticket.

If there are any remaining tickets after the 48-hour window, additional names will be chosen from the original lottery list. The student will be contacted and have 48 hours to purchase two tickets. This process will continue until all 200 student guest tickets are purchased.

As a reminder, UT students are admitted free to all home games by presenting a valid student ID. For all other home games, students may purchase up to four discounted student guest tickets by coming to the UT Ticket Office in Savage Arena with their ID prior to game day.

For more ticket information, students may contact the Athletic Ticket Office at 419.530.GOLD (4653).

Movie night location moved to Savage Arena Aug. 17

Due to the possibility of inclement weather, Movie Night featuring “The Incredibles” will be moved from the Glass Bowl to Savage Arena Friday, Aug. 17.

Doors will open at 6:30 p.m., and the movie will start at 8 p.m.

Activities will take place on the main concourse, running from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Seating for the free presentation of “The Incredibles” will be on the east side of the arena.

Attendees may bring their own food and drink to the arena.

 The east side concession stand also will be open.

For more information about Movie Night at Savage Arena, call 419.530.GOLD (4653).

UT baseball team wins academic award third straight year

The University of Toledo baseball team has earned the Team Academic Excellence Award from the American Baseball Coaches Association.

This marks the third season in a row the Rockets have received this award. The Team Academic Excellence Award honors high school and college programs coached by association members that post a grade-point average above 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for the most recent academic year.

A record number of teams were recognized with the 2017-18 Team Academic Excellence Award. In total, 287 college and high school programs received this year’s award, including 93 high school programs and 76 teams from NCAA Division III.

Toledo and Ball State were the two Mid-American Conference schools to receive the award.