Northern Illinois men’s soccer player Kyle Knotek, a senior who holds a perfect 4.0 grade point average in NIU’s esteemed College of Business, was voted to the College Sports Information Directors of America/ESPN Academic All-America First Team.
“It feels great to have gotten (the award) in my last season,” Knotek said. “As I am leaving college, and leaving college soccer, being recognized in such a prestigious manner means a lot to me.”
Knotek, a fifth-year senior from Geneva, Ill., earned his second nod to a CoSIDA Academic All-American Team, adding to his 2008 second team selection.
“It was nice to be on the second team in 2008, but my competitive nature wanted to get the first team,” Knotek said.
He started all but one game for the Huskies, including Northern Illinois’ wins at Wisconsin and at Northwestern. As a team captain, Knotek played a critical role in the NIU defense that ranks 14th nationally in goals against average and 24th in the country for shutout percentage. Knotek also helped the NIU offense. He assisted the go-ahead goal against Oregon State, and added another helper on the game-tying goal versus Hartwick.
The business administration major who will graduate in December thanked his professors and the university for his success.
“I’ve been fortunate academically because I’ve been able to work in the outstanding facilities of the NIU College of Business and with exceptional professors throughout the entire university,” Knotek said.
“He went about things for five years in the classroom and on the field with an unbelievable sense of focus and an unbelievable drive,” NIU head coach Eric Luzzi said. “Kyle is the model of what you think about when you hear the term ‘student-athlete.’”
As one of only seven men’s soccer players to make a second appearance on an Academic All-American Team, Knotek stands as only the 12th Huskie in any sport to earn Academic All-American standing more than once. Gymnast Jody Yednock was the last NIU athlete to earn first team accolades, doing so in 2007.
Over his career, Knotek won 42 games in four years. He played a significant role on NIU’s 2006 team, which won a school-record 15 games, won the Mid-American Conference regular season and tournament championships, and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
“I couldn’t think of a more fitting end to his overall career,” Luzzi said.
Knotek is one of only two selections on the 12-member team to hold a perfect GPA. He said the same thing motivates his in the classroom and on the field.
“It’s a mentality that I want succeed and excel in whatever I care about and put effort into,” he said. “I’ve applied the same mentality to soccer and my athletic career.”
To be eligible, a student-athlete must be a varsity starter or key reserve, maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.30 on a scale of 4.00, have reached sophomore athletic and academic standings at his/her current institution and be nominated by his/her sports information director. Since the program’s inception in 1952, CoSIDA has bestowed Academic All-America honors on more than 15,000 student-athletes in Divisions I, II, III and NAIA, covering all NCAA championship sports.
The Academic All-America® program currently selects 12 teams at the University Division level and 12 teams at the College Division level. The program currently selects the following Academic All-America® teams: men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, softball, men’s cross country and track, women’s cross country and track, men’s at-large and women’s at-large.