Prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships Awarded to Three University of Wyoming Student-Athletes

May 2, 2013

LARAMIE, Wyo. - Over the past year, three University of Wyoming student-athletes have received NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships to continue their studies.

Most recently, the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship Committee awarded a scholarship to senior wrestler Alfonso Hernandez for part-time or full-time postgraduate study at a university or professional school. He joins two other UW honorees to receive the award this academic year, including former football player Luke Ruff and former cross country and track and field member Greg Miller.

"I tip my hat to all three of these young men for accomplishing great things academically and athletically," University of Wyoming Athletics Director Tom Burman said. "Alfonso (Hernandez), Greg (Miller) and Luke (Ruff) all had amazing careers as Wyoming Cowboys. With all they achieved in their respective sports, they eclipsed those accomplishments by what they achieved in the classroom and in the community. We look forward to seeing what great things they will accomplish in the future."

Nationwide, the NCAA awards 174 postgraduate scholarships each year, divided equally among men and women. Fifty-eight awards are doled out each fall, winter and spring. The three UW honorees were among just 29 men in the country to receive scholarships in their respective seasons.

Alyson Hagy, professor of English and UW's NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative, coordinated the nominations for the scholarships, gathering all the necessary data and letters of recommendation.

"The Postgraduate Scholarship is the NCAA's most prestigious and meaningful academic award," Hagy said. "The winners are All-American caliber students and athletes--the best of the best in the country. For UW to have three winners in a single year is a tribute to these young men, their professors and coaches. They have set the highest standards for themselves, in uniform and out, and they've met those standards."

Hernandez, who studied kinesiology and health promotion, was named to the Western Wrestling Conference Honor Roll or All-Academic team four times. In 2012, he was named to the National Wrestling Coaches Association All-Academic team. He has been named to the Western Wrestling All-Conference third team (twice) and first team (twice). In 2012, he was the Western Wrestling Conference Wrestler of the Year. He became just the sixth multiple wrestling All-American in UW history when he finished sixth in the nation at 197 pounds in 2012 and seventh in 2013.

"It is a great honor to receive this scholarship, and I want to thank the NCAA for granting me this scholarship to help me further my education," Hernandez said. "The University of Wyoming has given me all the tools to succeed, and being able to receive this is a testament to not only my hard work, but to the University. It's proof that the University is a breeding ground for excellence."

Hernandez, who achieved a GPA of 3.63, hopes to pursue a postgraduate degree in the medical field.

Wyoming head coach Mark Branch also received an NCAA postgraduate scholarship after he wrapped up his wrestling career at Oklahoma State in 1997.

"He deserves it. He worked hard in his college career on the mat and took care of his academics," Branch said of Hernandez. "It's a huge benefit. I received this same scholarship and I know how much it meant to me. Without it, I'm not sure I would've gone to graduate school. It helped me make a decision that has made a positive impact on my life. I'm sure Fonz is very appreciative, and he realizes how special something like this is."

Ruff also was awarded an NCAA postgraduate scholarship this semester. He achieved a 3.60 cumulative grade-point average while majoring in civil engineering. Over the past four years, he has been awarded both Academic All-Mountain West Conference honors and Mountain West Scholar-Athlete honors each year. The past three years, Ruff was also selected to the Capital One CoSIDA First Team All-District VII team.

His senior year, he was named to four very prestigious lists. He was a semifinalist for the National Football Foundation's William V. Campbell Trophy, which is also referred to as the "Academic Heisman." He was one of only 30 Football Bowl Subdivision student-athletes in the nation to be named a candidate for the Senior CLASS Award, and the Lott IMPACT Trophy Committee named him among their 42 candidates for their 2012 award. But perhaps his highest honor came at the conclusion of his senior season when he was selected as one of only 24 NCAA Division I football student-athletes in the nation to receive First Team Capital One Academic All-America honors. The Capital One Division I Academic All-America Football Team includes student-athletes from a combined 246 teams across the nation - 124 Football Bowl Subdivision teams and 122 Football Championship Subdivision teams. To be one of only 24 individuals selected nationally was a great accomplishment.

"It's an honor and a blessing to be awarded an NCAA postgraduate scholarship," Ruff said. "I couldn't have done it without my coaches and professors and the support they provided me. The engineering faculty and the coaching staff have been extremely helpful and understanding in regard to me pursuing an engineering degree while playing college football these past four years. I want to thank them all for that. This honor is as much theirs as it is mine.

"I will be utilizing my postgraduate scholarship to pursue my master's degree in environmental engineering here at the University of Wyoming, so I will be able to continue those relationships I've made here for the next year and a half to two years. I'm very excited to be around the same group of people who have helped me get to where I am now."

On the field, Ruff was selected to the 2012 First Team Preseason All-Conference team as a free safety after being named a 2011 Second Team All-Mountain West selection.

"We are extremely proud of both Luke's academic and athletic accomplishments," Wyoming head football coach Dave Christensen said. "He has excelled as a football player and obviously as a student throughout his time here at Wyoming. Luke is an exceptional young man, and I know he will be very successful in his chosen career of engineering."

Miller received his honor last spring. He is completing year two of his pharmacy studies program at UW.

He was named to the Dean's List and President's Honor Roll throughout his academic career, completing his undergraduate studies in kinesiology and exercise science with a 3.88 cumulative grade point average. Miller has served as a teaching assistant in the anatomy and physiology labs on campus. In addition to participating in the Wyoming Student-Athlete Advisory Committee's "Toys for Tots" campaign, he assisted with a local after-school reading/running program in his hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba, coached Special Olympics athletes, and served as a volunteer with several other organizations.

He also was named the Mountain West Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2012 for all sports.

"I was ecstatic when I found out I was awarded the scholarship," Miller said. "I am currently finishing up my second year of pharmacy school and this scholarship has given me the opportunity to focus on my schooling without having a job. I have straight As and have been able to get involved in some of the pharmacy organizations. The award has let me dedicate my attention to my studies and my hopes of getting into a pharmacy residency program when I graduate."