Academic All-American of Year
Photo by Mark Campbell November 22, 2016
UD's Sampson named CoSIDA Academic All-American of Year
The nation’s highest academic honor for NCAA men’s soccer now belongs to the University of Delaware’s Ben Sampson.
Sampson, a graduate student and five-year standout for the Blue Hen men’s soccer program, earned first team Academic All-American honors from the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) on Tuesday but received an even bigger honor by being named that team’s Academic All-American of the Year.
He becomes only the second student-athlete in UD history to earn Academic All-American of the Year honors, joining former women’s basketball All-American, current WNBA star and 2016 Olympic gold medalist Elena Delle Donne, who was honored in consecutive years in 2012 and 2013.
No Colonial Athletic Association school has had more than one student-athlete earn the coveted award and Sampson is the first CAA men’s soccer player to be honored. The current CAA membership has received 31 Academic All-America first team selections in all sports, eight of which have come from men's soccer.
"As one of the highest awards in NCAA Division I men's soccer and as the first male from UD to win this award, I'm deeply honored to be selected,” said Sampson. “I have been fortunate to be part of a culture on the UD men's soccer team that focuses on excellence on the soccer field and even more importantly in the classroom. Furthermore, it is also a huge testament to the academic quality of this athletics department and the University of Delaware as a whole."
To be eligible for the award, student-athletes must carry a 3.3 or better grade point average (GPA), be a starter or key reserve and have at least sophomore standing. Nominations and selections are made by collegiate sports information directors. The Academic All-American of the Year is selected from among the 11 players that make up the Academic All-American first team. In addition to Sampson, Kathryn Sloan of Louisiana Tech was named the Academic All-American of the Year for women’s soccer.
“Each year at season’s onset we challenge our teams to find a ‘first’ for that given year,” said UD head coach Ian Hennessy, who earned his doctorate in molecular biology from Columbia University in 2001. “Past lists include things like, first to win the CAA, first team in history to host an NCAA game, etc. All are achievements that can’t ever be achieved again because they are ‘firsts.’ Ben’s achievement fits beautifully into the architecture of this philosophy. He is the first and sole recipient of arguably the most coveted award in all of college soccer and he did it as a Fightin’ Blue Hen. I speak on behalf of our athletic department when I say congratulations to Ben, the UD Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and his family back home in Minnesota. They have a special young man to be proud of.”
Sampson, a native of Woodbury, Minnesota, earned CoSIDA Academic All-American honors for the third time in his career after being named to the third team in 2014 and the second team last year. The only four-time CoSida All-District selection in school history in any sport, he joins Matt Haney (2004-06) as the only men’s soccer players in UD history to earn Academic All-American honors three times.
Following a medical redshirt, Sampson decided to return to the classroom to utilize his fifth year of eligibility this fall to pursue a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering with a concentration in signal processing, communications and controls. The 2014 CAA men’s soccer scholar-athlete of the year, he graduated summa cum laude and top of his class this past spring with a 3.989 cumulative GPA.
Sampson, a two-time team captain, displays a similar hallmark leadership on the field, in the classroom and in the community. He has remained a mainstay on the pitch for UD and this year led the Blue Hens (12-8-1) to the Colonial Athletic Association tournament title and a berth in the NCAA tournament while earning first team All-CAA honors. He played and started in all but one game during the 2016 season and ranked third on the team with four goals.
For his career, Sampson played in 84 games with 83 starts and became UD's all-time leader in both categories. He garnered 10 goals and four assists for 24 points for his career as well and was part of 24 shutouts.
A five-time CAA Academic Honor Roll recipient, Sampson earned dean’s list honors every semester while at UD and is a member of the Chi Alpha Sigma National College Athlete Honor Society and the Eta Kappa Nu Honor Society. He served as an image processing intern at Phase Sensitive Innovations (PSI), which specializes in the development of millimeter wave imaging solutions, during the 2015-16 academic year.