CRUSADERS TO HONOR RUNDH: Valparaiso will honor Angie (Porche) Rundh during its 2 p.m. match Saturday against Illinois-Chicago at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
Rundh is the Crusaders' career leader in kills (2,046) and attacks (5,171) and also ranks among Valpo's top 10 in service aces and hitting percentage. The program's first-ever All-American, she twice received Honorable Mention All-American honors from the American Volleyball Coaches Association, as well as earning All-Midwest Region honors twice.
She twice received CoSIDA Academic All-District notice and was third team Academic All-American as a senior. Rundh was also a finalist for the 2009 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Award.
VALPO TEAMS TO HOST BENEFITS: The Valparaiso men's soccer program will host its fifth annual benefit match for They Often Cry Outreach at 7 tonight at Brown Field against Illinois-Chicago. The benefit will raise money for TOCO's annual holiday toy drive.
In addition, Saturday's volleyball match at 2 p.m. against UIC will serve as a TOCO benefit match.
There will be no admission charge for the soccer match, with all donations going to TOCO. The first 100 donations of $10 or more will receive a special TOCO/Valpo athletics winter beanie. VU scarves will be on sale for $20, with $5 of the proceeds going to TOCO. The first 150 students in attendance will receive free scarves. Scarves will be on sale at the volleyball match, with donations also accepted.
The goal for TOCO is to deliver 200 bicycles and helmets to underprivileged children in St. Lucia. Valpo men's soccer coach Mike Avery serves on the organization's executive board.
NATIONAL RUNNERS-UP COME UP WINNERS IN GRADUATION RATES: Last year's national runner-ups in football and men's basketball came out the big winners in the classroom.
Of the 10 teams that reached the BCS football championship game and the men's and women's Final Four, only one finished with a graduation rate lower than 70 percent in the NCAA's latest report, with Notre Dame producing better academic marks than national champion Alabama and Michigan coming in slightly ahead of national champion Louisville.
Those marks are based on four years of data collected from freshman athletes who entered school between 2003-04 and 2006-07 and earned their degrees in six years.
Eighty-two percent of athletes in the 2006-07 freshman class earned their diploma, matching a one-year record. Graduation rates over the four-year span, hit 81 percent, also a one percentage point increase and another record.
Alabama, which has won the last two BCS titles and is ranked No. 1 this season, finished at 73 percent, ahead of football's four-year average (70 percent). Notre Dame, which lost in January's BCS title game, had a grad rate of 94 percent.
There were similar trends in basketball.
Michigan, the men's runner-up, and surprising Wichita State both came in at 75 percent, both ahead of the four-year average in their sport (70). National champion Louisville was third at 70 percent, and only Syracuse (45) fell below the national average.
Three of the four women's Final Four teams also topped the spot's four-year average (85). Notre Dame came in at 100 percent with Connecticut and Louisville both at 92. California's grad rate was 75 percent.
NOTRE DAME'S LOMBARD DONE FOR SEASON; NIX OUT SATURDAY: Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly says right guard Christian Lombard has had season-ending back surgery, and nose guard Louis Nix III will not make the trip to Air Force because of knee tendinitis.
Kelly says Lombard, a two-year starter, underwent surgery Wednesday to repair a herniated disk. Freshman Steve Elmer will take over as the starting right guard.
Kelly says Kona Schwenke will start on the defensive line instead of Nix. Kelly says Nix has not been able to practice this week because of his knee, so he won't make the trip to Colorado on Saturday. Nix also sustained a shoulder injury against USC.
Kelly says quarterback Tommy Rees, who missed most of the second half against USC with a neck injury, looked good in practice all week.
NEWTON SHINES AS PANTHERS BEAT BUCS: Cam Newton threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score Thursday night to lead the surging Carolina Panthers to a 31-13 victory over the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Panthers (4-3) won for the fourth time in five games following an 0-2 start. They've won three straight, with Newton throwing for 667 yards, six TDs and no interceptions.
The Bucs (0-7), one of two NFL teams yet to win, have dropped the first seven games in a season for the seventh time in franchise history. They've lost 12 of 13 dating to last year, and some fans showed up at Raymond James Stadium carrying signs and wearing paper bags over their heads urging that second-year coach Greg Schiano be fired.
Around the horn
Purdue Calumet women’s basketball coach Tom Megyesi will be the guest on "Purdue Calumet Sports Insight" at 5:30 p.m. today on WJOB-AM (1230). ... NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday that the Cowboys will face Jacksonville, the Lions will take on Atlanta, and the Dolphins will play Oakland in London next season. ...Brett Favre dismissed the possibility of returning to the NFL with St. Louis, and Rams coach Jeff Fisher declined to address reports he tried to lure the quarterback out of retirement to replace the injured Sam Bradford.