INDIANAPOLIS---FormerUniversity of Arizona golfer Annika Sorenstam joined the likes of Jackie Joyner-Kersey, Larry Bird, Red Grange, Sally Ride, Gerald Ford, Jackie Robinson, Jim Thorpe, Madeline Albright and Tiger Woods ?- all former college athletes ?- as one of the “100 Most Influential Student-Athletes.”
The list was selected by a special panel of college presidents, athletics directors, faculty representatives, student-athletes and conference representatives as part of the NCAA Centennial celebration this year.
ESPN Classic will air two one-hour programs highlighting the select 100 on March 13, and later in re-telecasts on the same network and sister network ESPU, the 24-hour college sports network.
Sorrenstam, 35, one of the top student-athletes to compete for the UA in any sport, is the No. 1 ranked golfer in the LPGA and a top money winner on the professional tour for nearly a decade. The two-time All-American won the NCAA championship as a freshman at Arizona in 1991 and followed that with the Pac-10 title in 1992 beore turning pro after her sophomore year.
Her accomplishments at the collegiate and professional level have helped take women’s golf to unprecedented heights of popularity, and also helped boost tour earnings for female professionals. Sorenstam has earned more than $17 million on the tour, No. 1 on the career list, and is a noted ambassador for her native Sweden. Last year she won 11 of the 21 tournaments she entered.
She has been LPGA Rolex Player of the Year eight times, more than any other pro. She won the Vare Trophy for annual LPGA
scoring average six times, including last year with a 69.33 mark. Last year she also earned the Golf Writer's Trophy, European golf's most prestigious award, beating out Michael Campbell and Colin Montgomerie for her second trophy.
A resident of Incline Village, Nev., she was a Forbes Top 100 Celebrity selection for 2005, and plys her trade above the radar as the LPGA-proclaimed "world's most dominant golfer." She
“The list of 100 student-athletes represents the best of what college sports and higher education bring to our society ,” said NCAA President Myles Brand. “Their collective positive impact serves as a model for today’s student-athletes.”
The NCAA defines the 100 Most Influential Student-Athletes as those who have made a significant impact or major contributions to society.
“The show is really featuring not just the accomplishments student-athletes had in competition, but it’s their contribution to society as a whole that’s really being celebrated,” said John L. Johnson, NCAA Director of Promotions and Events.
Another selection with UA connections is Myles Brand's predecessor at the NCAA, former UA athletics director Cedric Dempsey, whose selection depended on his career as a three-sport student-athlete at Albion College, as well as his subsequent stewardship of the NCAA for more than a decade following his departure from Arizona in 1993.
The list is a who's who of many former and contemporary legends across the spectrum of sports and society.
The “100 Most Influential Student-Athletes” in alphabetical order are:
Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem -- University of California, Los Angeles, Basketball