Past Winners

John Urschel, 84th Annual AAU Sullivan Award Winner

John Urschel, 84th Annual AAU Sullivan Award Winner

Sport: Football

Hometown: Williamsville, New York

Biography: An all-conference performer with a perfect 4.0 GPA that is already teaching college level courses, Penn State’s John Urschel redefines what it means to be a student-athlete.

A First Team All-Big Ten guard in 2013, Urschel was a key component to one of the Big Ten’s most productive passing offenses, helping true freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg earn Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors this season. As a team captain for 2013, Urschel was named an AP Third Team All-American and helped the Nittany Lions to a winning season for the fourth time in his career. Urschel was also selected as Penn State’s Big Ten Sportsmanship recipient this season. Placing equal emphasis in the classroom as on the football field, Urschel was named the 2013 recipient of the National Football Foundation’s William V. Campbell Trophy, the nation’s premier scholar-athlete award which annually recognizes one senior football player as the absolute best in the country for his combined academic success, football performance and exemplary community leadership and citizenship.

He was honored on the field during the BCS National Championship in recognition of winning the Campbell Trophy. Urschel was named to his second First Team Academic All-America Team in 2013 and received his third Academic All-District selection. He earned a bachelor’s in mathematics in May 2012, a master’s in mathematics a year later, and he is currently working on a second master’s degree in math education – all while maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA.

He was named the 2012-13 Ernest B. McCoy Memorial Award winner as Penn State’s top male student-athlete and represented Penn State as the male recipient of the school’s 2013 Big Ten Medal of Honor. The Williamsville, N.Y., native is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and a 2013 Big Ten Distinguished Scholar.

His time dedicated to football on the field didn't interfere with his community service. Urschel taught two college-level math courses, Integral Vector Calculus and Trigonometry and Analytic Geometry in 2013 and had several research papers published in major academic journals. He jointly ran a 2013 summer program in computational mathematics and is a member of a genome re-assembly research group.

The keynote speaker at the 2013 Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon, Urschel addressed nearly two thousand attendees on the four qualities he wished for all college student-athletes: 1) master your craft in your sport; 2) make a mark in the community; 3) help young players along their journey; and 4) prepare for the day your athletic career ends.



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The Award

Known as the "Oscar" of sports awards and older than The Heisman, the AAU Sullivan Award honors the outstanding amateur athlete in the United States. It has been presented annually by the AAU since 1930 as a salute to founder and past president of the Amateur Athletic Union, and pioneer in amateur sports, James E. Sullivan. Based on the qualities of leadership, character, sportsmanship, and the ideals of amateurism, the AAU Sullivan Award goes far beyond athletic accomplishments and honors those who have shown strong moral character.


The AAU was founded in 1888 to establish standards and uniformity in amateur sports. During its early years, the AAU served as a leader in international sport representing the U.S. in the international sports federations. The AAU worked closely with the Olympic movement to prepare athletes for the Olympic games. After the Amateur Sports Act of 1978, the AAU has focused its efforts into providing sports programs for all participants of all ages beginning at the grass roots level. The philosophy of "Sports for All, Forever," is shared by over 700,000 participants and over 150,000 volunteers.
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