Michigan State senior Jeff Lerg has been named the Academic All-America of the Year in the At-Large Division by ESPN The Magazine, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America.
Lerg, a Livonia native, has earned First Team Academic All-America honors for the second straight season, and in May graduated from MSU with a degree in Finance, boasting a 3.814 cumulative grade-point average.
The men’s At-Large program for the Academic All-America® includes the sports of fencing, golf, gymnastics, ice hockey, lacrosse, rifle, skiing, tennis and water polo.
“This really is a tremendous honor,” noted Lerg. “The Academic All-America program honors the nation’s top student-athletes, and looking at some of the other athletes named to the team, I’m honored to be mentioned among these high-achieving individuals.”
“Jeff is so deserving of all of the accolades he receives,” added Spartans head coach Rick Comley. “He is truly a special individual who, through great self-discipline and an unequalled work ethic, achieves at such an amazingly high level at whatever he chooses to undertake. He graduated near the top of his class, was a standout among our student-athletes in community service, and will be recognized as one of the most decorated hockey players in Michigan State history. Jeff embodies what we want our student-athletes to be not only at Michigan State, but in collegiate athletics on the whole.”
Lerg finished the 2008-09 season ranked fourth nationally with 1,050 saves while averaging 32.5 saves per game, second in NCAA Division I. He also finished his career as the all-time saves leader (3,996) for both the Spartans and the CCHA; his total is second all-time in the NCAA annals.
The senior was named co-recipient of the ninth annual Ilitch Humanitarian Award as the CCHA’s top citizen, Lerg has put in countless hours on community service projects. Among his significant other commitments, he became passionate in developing a mentoring relationship with several young boys through the Big Brothers program and the Spartan Buddies program. While mentoring these boys, Lerg was inspired to further help the fight against children’s cancer by being greatly involved with MSU’s “Shoot for a Cure” initiative, which raised more than $20,000 in 15 months since its inception in January 2008.
In addition to the Ilitch Award, Lerg was the recipient of the Lowe’s Senior Class Award for ice hockey, was a finalist for the national Hockey Humanitarian Award and won the prestigious Gwendolyn Norrell Community Service and Leadership Award from MSU.
A 2008 ACHA All-American, he was named the Detroit Athletic Club Michigan College Athlete of the Year, and was also a finalist for the AAU’s prestigious James E. Sullivan Award. Also, he was named as the USA Hockey College Player of the Year as a sophomore when he led the Spartans to the NCAA championship. A two-time All-CCHA selection, he was named to the CCHA All-Academic Team three times in his career.
As a senior, he posted a 2.94 goals-against average with a .921 save percentage. In his career, Lerg’s .921 save percentage ranks second all-time in the MSU annals and ties for 15th all-time in the NCAA record book.
Photo by Dave Reginek/CCHA