Men’s basketball forward receives academic honor
Edward Rudman – Sports Writer
Men’s basketball’s Zack Penn, a junior, received the Northeast 10 Conference’s Elite 24 Award on March 23, 2021.
The Elite 24 award is usually given to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative GPA taking part in a NE10 championship, but since there were no seasons for fall and winter sports, the award was given to students by comparing GPAs on a sport-by-sport basis, according to Southern’s Athletic Website.
“It was very surprising to me. I honestly didn’t even think of this award or do it for anything, I’ve just always have worked hard in school,” said Penn. “My family holds me to a high level of getting good grades and it’s awesome to get recognized for something I’ve been doing throughout my college career. It’s an awesome honor and it’s nice to see my hard work paying off.”
Penn is the first member of the basketball program to earn the award and did so by posting a 3.82 GPA as a sports management major.
Balancing a college level workload and being a student-athlete is not easily done, but Penn said that because sports management is something that he loves, it helps him to get the work done and still be able to focus on basketball.
“For me, sport management is my passion. I just love sports and the whole management side of it, so doing the work and getting all my schoolwork done is easy for me because it’s stuff that I’m interested in,” said Penn. “I think that if college kids pick the right degree, you’re going to be able to get that work done easier because you’re actually invested in it.”
Penn has had prolonged success as a student athlete, as he as earned a spot on the NE10 Academic Honor Roll in each of his first five semesters as an Owl.
During his sophomore year in the 2019-2020 season, Penn appeared in 27 games and started four of them. He was the only member of the team to play in every game and averaged 4.0 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game. He shot at a 43.9 percent clip from the field.
After college, Penn said he’d love to play basketball somewhere if given the opportunity because he’d like to play as long as possible. Afterwards, he said he’s still undecided which path he wants to take in the sports management world, whether it be an athletic director at a high school or more of the marketing and management aspect of the profession.
“We’re blessed to have Zack in many ways. He’s a leader on the court, he’s a leader in the classroom and he puts in effort in both situations,” said Head Coach Scott Burrell. “He’s not the best player but he works the hardest and obviously he does the same in the classroom. Being a 4.0 athlete, we need that because it shows you can be an athlete and a great student, and a lot of our guys buy into it. We had 8 or 9 of our guys have a 3.2 or above last semester.”