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Updated 11:00 AM April 19, 2004



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Baseball standout catches award named after two professors

Matt Butler, a junior outfielder on the Wolverine baseball team, is the first recipient of the Bates-Deskins Award for Athletic and Academic Excellence.
Butler (Photo by Marcia Ledford, U-M Photo Services)

The University will give the award annually to a student-athlete who excels in academics as well as athletics. It is named in honor of Percy Bates, professor of education, and Donald Deskins, professor emeritus of urban geography and sociology.

As professors, Bates and Deskins have been involved with intercollegiate athletics, emphasizing the importance of academic achievement. Both have served on the Board in Control of Intercollegiate Athletics.

"This is an opportunity for the University to showcase the academic and athletic achievements of a deserving student-athlete," Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Lester Monts said in announcing the award. "It also recognizes the extraordinary contributions of two longtime University professors whose work on behalf of excellence in intercollegiate athletics has been a hallmark of their careers."

Butler, an academic all-Big Ten Conference performer in 2003, will receive the Bates-Deskin Award April 22 at the annual Department of Intercollegiate Athletics awards banquet. Last season, he received the Steve Boros Award as the top student-athlete on the baseball team.

Butler has started 24 games for the baseball team and has achieved the top academic grade-point average on the team. Entering the weekend's action, Butler led the team with 27 runs batted in, shared the team lead with nine stolen bases and had hit a career-best three home runs. He also ranked third with a .333 batting average.

"I am very honored and surprised to even be considered for such an award," Butler says. "It means a lot because there are plenty of exceptional and qualified athletes to choose from. I truly appreciate the thought of being included in that company."

The director of Programs for Educational Opportunity in the School of Education, Bates was a member of the Secretary of Education's Title IX Commission on Opportunity in Athletics in 2002-03. He has served on the NCAA Executive Committee and as president of the Faculty Athletics Representative Association. He has been active with the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and acts as liaison for the Management Council of the national SAAC.

A former U-M tackle and professional football player, Deskins frequently has been honored as an academic mentor, especially for students from historically underrepresented backgrounds. Deskins received the Distinguished Mentor Award from the National Council for Geographic Education in 1996 and a William Fulbright Scholarship in 1995.

Having earned his bachelor of arts, master of arts and doctorate degrees at U-M, Deskins joined the faculty in 1982. He retired in 2002.

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