The award's organizing committee
announced the list of candidates Monday. From that list, a national
media committee will select 10 finalists for the award next
February. When the season reaches the NCAA Tournament in March,
nationwide fan balloting will be coupled with results from voting by
coaches and media to determine the male and female winner.
Legendary sportscaster Dick Enberg, who
initiated the idea for the award and now serves as honorary
chairman, announces the winner during the CBS telecast of the NCAA
men's Final Four.
The male candidates include two
first-team all-Americans from last season who returned for their
senior year, Lawrence Roberts of Mississippi State and Ryan Gomes of
Providence. The list has representatives from 13 different
conferences, led by the Atlantic Coast Conference with six nominees.
Four universities have multiple players on the list. Kansas, the
nation's top-ranked preseason team, has three seniors among the 30
candidates. Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech and Arizona each have two
The Senior CLASS Award -- with the
acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in
School -- was launched in the 2001-02 college basketball season. It
is designed to honor the attributes of seniors who remain committed
to their university and elect to pursue the many rewards that a
senior season can bring.
"The award is designed to return the
prestige and dignity of being a senior college basketball player,"
Enberg said. "It's not intended to say that leaving early for pro
basketball is wrong, rather to celebrate those who do decide to
return for a senior season."
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The remarkable story of Shane Battier
returning to lead Duke to the national championship in 2002 inspired
the inception of the award. The inaugural men's award winner was
Juan Dixon of Maryland, followed by David West of Xavier in 2003 and
Jameer Nelson of St. Joseph's in 2004.
A women's award was also established to
encourage a continued emphasis on senior leadership. Sue Bird of
Connecticut was the first women's winner, followed by LaToya Thomas
of Mississippi State and Duke's Alana Beard.
"Bayer is committed to supporting
the educational process of our nation's young people," said Jeff
Gaidos, vice president for marketing, Bayer HealthCare LLC, Animal
Health Division. "College basketball provides many life lessons for
student athletes. We are thrilled to honor those players who
capitalize on the full opportunities available as a collegian."
The Bayer Advantage Senior CLASS
Award winners will receive their awards at the fourth annual Tribute
Gala, scheduled for April 30, 2005, in Kansas City. The event is
hosted by the Pride of Kansas City Foundation.
[News release provided by Kent Brown, assistant
sports information director,
University of Illinois]