Mahoney Awarded Prestigious NCAA Scholarship

Josh MahoneyJosh Mahoney, a senior linebacker on the University of Northern Iowa football team, has been awarded the prestigious NCAA Walter Byers Postgraduate Scholarship. Mahoney is the first-ever Panther student-athlete to receive the award, which is worth a total of $48,000.

"I am proud, and also humbled, to accept this award on behalf of the University of Northern Iowa," Mahoney said. "Throughout my time at UNI, I was extremely fortunate to work with outstanding coaches, professors and teammates. I am grateful for all their support and friendship throughout the years, and I am also firmly indebted to my parents and family - people who have had a significant effect on my life and continue to inspire me each day. I also want to congratulate the other nominees, whom I was privileged to meet at the interview last Monday in Indianapolis. Finally, I want to thank the NCAA Walter Byers Scholarship Committee and the NCAA as a whole for their continued support of collegiate athletics."

The award is open to all athletes in all sports in all divisions of play with one female and one male student-athlete being annually presented with the scholarship in recognition of outstanding academic achievement and potential for success in postgraduate study. The Byers Scholarship award is one of the highest honors the NCAA bestows on a student-athlete. The program was established in 1988 to recognize the contributions of Byers, the first NCAA executive director, and encourage academic achievement of student-athletes as they pursue their postgraduate education.

"Josh Mahoney is such a great ambassador for our university and our football program," UNI head football coach Mark Farley said. "Everyone associated with UNI should be proud of and inspired by Josh. This award demonstrates how the dedication of players, coaches and professors working together opens up incredible possibilities for our students. I am most pleased with the team effort of academics and athletics working toward excellence together and Josh attaining the ultimate student-athlete academic award given by the NCAA."

"The entire University is proud of Josh, and his accomplishments both on and off the field throughout his career," UNI Director of Athletics Troy Dannen said. "His receipt of the Walter Byers Award marks the most significant achievement of any UNI student-athlete in the history of our institution - and this recognition is well-deserved. He symbolizes the best of collegiate athletics, and certainly stands as a great role model for future UNI student-athletes as they strive to achieve at the standard Josh has established."

"A strong consideration of the committee is the potential contribution to society of the awardee," said Anne Woodrick, UNI's NCAA Faculty Athletic Representative. "Josh achieved everything with humility as well."

Mahoney posted a perfect 4.0 grade point average while majoring in both economics and English. Mahoney was a two-time Division I Academic All-America® honoree for the Panthers. Mahoney was a Presidential Scholar and Dean's List student at UNI. In December, Mahoney attended the National Football Foundation Awards Banquet in New York City in honor of being chosen as one of 15 finalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy, commonly referred to as the Academic Heisman.

Mahoney will attend law school this fall but is undecided on where he will attend. After pursuing his law degree, his long-term goal is work for an organization that strives for social justice on either a national or international level.

Mahoney played in 50 career games for the Panthers and tallied 247 tackles. Mahoney led the team in tackles as a junior and a senior. He secured four interceptions and nine tackles-for-loss. He was a two-time first-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference honoree and a three-time Academic All-MVFC performer.

Off the field, Mahoney gives back as well. When tornadoes and floods devastated local Iowa communities in summer 2008, Mahoney joined other UNI student-athletes in spear-heading community involvement to help clean up debris and begin the rebuilding process. He was a four-year member of UNI's Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC).

Mahoney hails from Sioux Falls, S.D., where he attended O'Gorman High School. He is the son of John and Joan Mahoney.

Katherine Theisen, a cross country and track & field student-athlete from the University of St. Thomas (Minnesota) is the female recipient.

The Walter Byers award is named after the former NCAA executive director. Applicants of the award must have a minimum 3.5 GPA, demonstrate evidence of superior character and leadership and show that participation in intercollegiate athletics has been a positive influence on their personal and intellectual development.

Mahoney becomes just the second collegian from the state of Iowa to earn this prestigious honor. In 1991, J. David Brown (Track, Cross Country) from the University of Iowa earned the award as well.