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UTA student-athletes win 2015-2016 Sun Belt title for community service projects

Wednesday, May 4, 2016 • Media Contact: Hillary Green

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The University of Texas at Arlington’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee has been honored with the Sun Belt Conference’s 2015-2016 Community Service Award following four monthly awards based on service projects and achievements in giving back to the community.

The Sun Belt honors a university Student-Athlete Advisory Committee each month through a program designed to encourage community involvement through service and volunteerism throughout the academic year. Committees earn points based on service activities, donations and time committed toward various projects.

The university with the highest point total is named the monthly champion, and monthly titles accumulate toward the annual award. UTA student-athletes won four monthly awards with in November, December, February, and March.

"It always feels great to be the best, but it also feels great to be able to set a high bar for others to follow," said Darien McLemore, SAAC president, a senior business major and infielder for the UTA baseball team. "This being the first year that the Sun Belt has done this enabled us to set a bar for ourselves and for the other schools that are in our conference. Now we have something to strive for and beat next year."

UTA student-athletes collected and donated more than 450 clothing items to nonprofit charity Mission Arlington/Mission Metroplex in November.

Jim Baker, UTA athletics director, said the Sun Belt community service program allows student-athletes to shine.

"It's more about giving back than just going to class every day, playing sports and hanging out with teammates," Baker said. "It just shows how well rounded these student-athletes are.”

The UTA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee comprises 31 representatives from all sports and meets monthly to discuss campus, departmental and national issues. The committee encourages unity, common purpose and camaraderie between teams and among all student-athletes. Women’s long jumper and medical technology senior Ayofemi Ibramhim serves as vice president of the committee. Members range from mid-distance runner Ryan De Leon, a mechanical engineering major, to women’s basketball forward and senior communications major Morgan Hunt.

In the Sun Belt community service competition, the UTA student-athletes started strong in November by collecting and donating more than 450 clothing items to nonprofit charity Mission Arlington/Mission Metroplex. Student-athletes also created motivational cards encouraging students to stay in school, raised more than $650 for two charitable organizations, and collected over 50 canned food items for donation.

In December, several UTA athletics teams participated in the Salvation Army's "Ring the Bell" campaign and raised $345 during two days of volunteering. SAAC also collected household items for area families affected by North Texas tornadoes.

The UTA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee also collected household items for area families affected by North Texas tornadoes.

UTA SAAC held its 15th annual canned food drive and raised funds from the UTA Volleyball Dig Pink match in February. The initial goal for the drive was to collect 2,000 cans. But with the help of many student-athletes, academic staff and community members, SAAC exceeded its expectations by gathering more than 3,400 items later donated to the Tarrant County Food Bank.

UTA volleyball also raised more than $2,300 for the Side-Out Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works with volleyball teams to raise awareness and funds for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer.

UTA SAAC also collected more than 1,000 articles of clothing, over 20 pairs of shoes, and made visits to local learning centers to speak with kids on the importance of education in March.

About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a Carnegie “highest research activity” institution of more than 52,000 students in campus-based and online degree programs and is the second-largest institution in the University of Texas system. U.S. News & World Report ranks UTA fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as the top four-year college in Texas for veterans on Military Times’ 2016 Best for Vets list. Visit to learn more, and find UTA rankings and recognition at