CLEVELAND – For the second consecutive season, the University of Akron was recognized as the Mid-American Conference's top men's athletics programs by claiming the 2016-17 Reese Trophy in back-to-back seasons, the league announced at the Athletic Honors Dinner on Wednesday, May 31.
During the 2016-17 academic year, the Zips competed in seven men's sports and captured the award for the third time (2017, 2016, and 2014) in program history on the strength of winning conference titles in men's soccer and basketball, along with both indoor and outdoor track and field.
"On behalf of our entire University and local community, I am so pleased to, once again, recognize the remarkable accomplishments of Akron's student-athletes and coaches," UA Director of Athletics Larry Williams said. "At Akron, our primary focus is the development of success-driven student-athletes; the collective achievement of our men's programs in the highly competitive Mid-American Conference as recognized by the Reese Trophy affirms the great effort in pursuit of this objective."
Akron men's soccer culminated a 13-6-3 campaign in 2016 en route to the programs' 13th MAC Championship title and Akron's 31st NCAA Tournament appearance. The Zips defeated Buffalo (2-1) for the MAC title, and opened the NCAA Championship with a win over Villanova (2-0) before falling to Indiana (1-0). Additionally, senior Adam Najem (Clifton, N.J.) earned the program's 12th MAC Player of the Year award, and is one of only three players in program history to earn first-team All-MAC honors in four consecutive seasons.
The men's basketball program won its second consecutive the MAC regular-season title en route to establishing a new school record for wins with a 27-9 overall ledger. The Zips advanced to the postseason for the 13th time in program history earning a berth in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) for the seventh time, where Akron defeated Houston (78-75) before falling to UT Arlington (85-69). In addition, senior center Isaiah Johnson (Cincinnati, Ohio) earned the program's second MAC Player of the Year honor, while former head coach Keith Dambrot was named MAC Coach of the Year.
Akron continued its excellence on the track as the Zips won their sixth MAC Indoor Track and Field Championship before capping their campaign winning the seventh MAC Outdoor Track and Field title in program history. Zips' head coach Dennis Mitchell swept indoor and outdoor men's and women's Coach of the Year awards, while the men's squad had eight Outdoor MAC Champions and four Indoor MAC Champions.
The Zips' football won the Crystal Clinic Wagon Wheel Challenge, defeating Kent State 31-27 at Dix Stadium, while men's golf and cross country squads added a sixth-place MAC Championship finishes.
For the Reese All-Sports Trophy, points are awarded based on each school's finish, with the overall total divided by the number of sports sponsored by each school.
The trophy is named for former MAC Commissioner David E. Reese. Reese was the first-ever MAC Commissioner and served the conference from its inception in 1946 until 1964.
2016-17 Reese (Men's) Standings
1. Akron (7/66.5/9.5)
2. Western Michigan (5/46.125/9.225)
3. Ohio (6/53.125/8.854)
4. Eastern Michigan (9/73.75/8.194)
5. Buffalo (10/73.625/7.362)
6. Ball State (6/40.625/6.771)
7. Miami (7/43.5/6.214)
8. Kent State (8/48.5/6.062)
9. Northern Illinois (7/38.75/5.535)
10. Bowling Green (6/32.5/5.416)
11. Central Michigan (7/37.5/5.357)
12. Toledo (6/31.5/5.25)