A Message from the Athletic Director: May 2020

Hurricane Fans,

I hope that you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy as we continue to together face the challenges of this global pandemic. There are reasons for optimism as we transition into the month of June.

We continue to monitor COVID-19 alongside campus officials. UM President Dr. Julio Frenk and his executive team have done a tremendous job navigating our campus through this pandemic, providing critical experience and leadership. The University’s expectation is to begin the fall semester back on campus and play our fall sports as scheduled. We are currently planning for student-athletes to begin to return to our facilities in June to start voluntary activities. No formal date has been announced, but we are working with campus officials to set detailed safety guidelines and timetables. We are obviously preparing for every possible scenario in terms of working, scheduling and competing, and we will continue to keep you updated as decisions are made.

Our Class of 2020 student-athletes may not have had the opportunity to walk across the stage at Watsco Center as originally planned but we still want to recognize their tremendous achievements. We had 49 spring graduates and I want to congratulate them on their hard work and dedication throughout their time at UM. I can’t wait to see where their life’s journey takes them from here and remember – you will always be a member of the U Family.

The NCAA released its Academic Progress Report (APR) rankings earlier this month and once again we have much to be proud of here at Miami. Nine programs were recognized for perfect single-year scores of 1,000 for the 2018-19 academic year — men’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s diving, golf, rowing, men’s and women’s tennis, and women’s track and field. Our football program posted its highest single-year APR in program history. Meanwhile, our men’s and women’s cross country, golf, and men’s and women’s tennis teams each earned Public Recognition Awards from the NCAA. The Public Recognition Awards each year are bestowed upon teams finishing in the top 10 percent of their respective sports based on the most recent multi-year Academic Progress Rate. Congratulations to our student-athletes, as well as our coaches and academic staff members who work tirelessly to help them achieve these results.

Speaking of success in the classroom, track and field standout Brittny Ellis has been awarded an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship for both her academic and athletic achievements. NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship winners receive a one-time, non-renewable scholarship of $10,000. The scholarships were created to promote and encourage graduate education by rewarding the Association’s most accomplished student-athletes through their participation in NCAA sports. Brittny, who has already earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing, is currently pursuing her master’s degree in health informatics. Congratulations, Brittny!

Estela Perez-Somarriba, the defending NCAA women’s singles champion, continues to rack up honors. She earned the ITA Southeast Region’s Arthur Ashe Leadership & Sportsmanship Award as well as its Senior Player of the Year accolade. This is the second year in a row Estela has won the region’s Ashe Award and the third straight year a Hurricane has received it, as Sinead Lohan did so in 2018. Congratulations to Estela and we’re excited to see her return to defend her title in 2021!

Renate Grimstad is the recipient of the 2020 Dinah Shore Trophy, cementing her status as one of the top collegiate female golfers who has made an impact both on the golf course through her leadership and on society through charitable endeavors. Administered by the LPGA Foundation, the Dinah Shore Trophy Award recognizes female collegiate golfers who excel in both academics and athletics, while maintaining a 78 or less scoring average. Renate is an outstanding representative of The U both on and off the course and I’m thrilled to see her return for another season!

All four of our track and field student-athletes who advanced to the NCAA Indoor Championships – Debbie Ajagbe, Kevin Arreaga, Raheem Chambers and Tiara McMinn – earned USTFCCCA All-American honors earlier this week. Congratulations to all four Canes!

Two of our standout pitchers earned second-team All-American accolades from Collegiate Baseball — senior Brian Van Belle and junior Chris McMahon. Brian went 2-0 with a team-leading 0.68 earned run average during the shortened season, while Chris posted a 3-0 mark with a 1.05 ERA. Congratulations to Brian and Chris!

I continue to be inspired by the commitment and dedication of our student-athletes, coaches and staff, who have worked together to ensure that we stay connected to each other and to our loyal Canes supporters around the world. We will be back together soon to begin another new Hurricanes season and I am confident that we will emerge from this stretch stronger and more unified than ever.

If you have any questions or need any assistance, please feel free to contact a member of our staff. For the latest information on UM Athletics, please be sure to visit HurricaneSports.com or follow us on our various social media channels, where you will find numerous stories, images and videos that show how our teams are continuing to stay strong, stay positive and stay together. I hope you enjoy this month’s magazine.

Go Canes!
Blake James