BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -A year after being named the CoSIDA At-Large Team's Academic All-American of the Year, University of Alabama senior Anton McKee has been named the 2016-17 Southeastern Conference H. Boyd McWhorter Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey announced Thursday.
The two-time SEC 200 breaststroke champion and 11-time All-American has led Alabama in the pool and classroom over his four-year Crimson Tide career, becoming the first UA swimmer to earn the conference's highest academic accolade. Texas A&M swimmer Sarah Gibson earned the women's honor.
"Anton and Sarah are amazing young people who are an inspiration for their commitment to the complete student-athlete experience of success in competition and excellence in the classroom," Sankey said. "Each of them are All-Americans in the pool and 4.0 students in the classroom, making them the ideal recipients of the H. Boyd McWhorter Award, the highest individual honor a student-athlete can achieve in the Southeastern Conference."
McKee and Gibson were chosen by a committee of Faculty Athletics Representatives from SEC universities and both will receive a $15,000 post-graduate scholarship and will be honored at the annual SEC Awards Dinner during the SEC Spring Meetings in Sandestin, Fla., in early June.
"We are extremely proud to have one of our student-athletes earn this extraordinary honor for the fourth time in the past five years," UA Director of Athletics Greg Byrne said. "Anton's drive and determination to be the very best he can be has resulted in a tremendous career, both in the pool and the classroom, and he epitomizes the dedication to excellence this award represents."
With McKee's honor, Alabama has earned the most honors in the award's 32-year history with 11. The Crimson Tide has earned eight honors since 2000, the most in the SEC over that span. McKee's win gives Alabama sole possession of first place when it comes to the men's side of the slate with six.
"Anton continues The University of Alabama's long and proud history with this award," Byrne said. "To lead the way when it comes to the SEC's highest scholastic honor speaks volumes in terms of our focus and dedication when it comes to academics."
McKee joins Julie Estin (1987, gymnastics), Jeff Laubenthal (1992, baseball), Meredith Willard (1997, gymnastics), Kristin Sterner (2003, gymnastics), Lauren Imwalle (2004, soccer), Emeel Salem (2007, baseball), Joseph Sykora (2008, golf), Barrett Jones (2013, football), Cory Whitsett (2014, golf) and Haylie McCleney (2016, softball) among the Tide's SEC Scholar-Athletes of the Year.
A Management Information Systems major at Alabama with a perfect GPA of 4.0, McKee is a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-American and the 2017 SEC champion in the 200 breaststroke and the NCAA runner-up in the same event. He helped lead Alabama to three consecutive NCAA top-10 finishes, marking the first time Alabama has posted a trio of top-10 finishes in a row since 1981-83.
"Our swimmers and divers are challenged to achieve excellence in the pool, in the classroom and in life," UA head swimming and diving coach Dennis Pursley said. "Anton has been a great ambassador for our program, our department and The University of Alabama in all of these areas and we are very proud of his accomplishments."
McKee set the SEC record on the way to winning the 2014 SEC 200 breaststroke title and is the Alabama record holder in the 100 and 200 breaststroke as well as the 200 individual medley and as part of the 400 medley relay.
He competed for Iceland at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, posting a top-20 finish in the 200 breaststroke at the 2016 Rio Olympics. At the 2015 FINA World Championships, he recorded top-20 finishes in the 100 and 200 breaststroke, setting the Icelandic national record in both events.