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April 8, 2004

University of South Carolina basketball player Mike Boynton, Jr. and University of Georgia swimmer Virginia Pate have been named recipients of the 2003-2004 Southeastern Conference Community Service Post-Graduate Scholarship, Commissioner Mike Slive announced Thursday. The two were chosen by a committee of Faculty Athletics Representatives from SEC universities. Each will receive a $5,000 post-graduate scholarship, provided by the SEC.

Boynton is the second Gamecock basketball player to win this award as BJ McKie was also awarded this same award in 1999.

“Community service is very important to me – it’s one of the things I really take pride in. I enjoy being able to go places and give back. To do things for people that aren’t in the position I am in and don’t have access to college and the things I’ve had access to as a student-athlete,” said Boynton. “It’s good to talk to kids – to talk them about staying on the right path and staying away from negative things. It’s fulfilling to talk to children and it’s important to me that I make a positive impact in their lives.”

On winning this award: “It means so much. Community service was kind of like a chore when I first got here, that’s the way I approached – community service was something others wanted me to do. But as I kept doing it I saw how much it benefited the kids and me as well. It really benefited me as much as them. This award – it’s like icing on the cake, winning a scholarship. But now doing community service – it’s something that comes natural and something that I want to do. When can I do it – I want to spend that time with children.”

What will you do with the post-graduate scholarship? “”I’ve thought about going to law school. I would like to continue to play basketball professionally, maybe overseas or in the US, but if that doesn’t work out – I will intend to go to law school whether it’s in a couple of months or a couple of years,” Boynton said with a smile.

The term role model – something that comes easy or something you enjoy? “It was difficult at first, it wasn’t always easy. I just wanted to be myself and not have to be a role model – it was a lot of pressure. But now it comes naturally and I find myself being who I am — people enjoy that more than someone who pretends. It gives you another tool of motivation to be a success and when people see you doing well it makes you want to do even better for yourself.”

“I couldn’t be more proud or happy for Mike as the winner of this award. What an accomplishment,” said a thrilled USC Head Coach Dave Odom. “Surely there are many deserving student-athletes in the SEC, but in my view none come close to Mike Boynton It is a tribute to him as a person, a student and a fine role model. His leadership continues to amaze me. I am so impressed with his ability to lead. The award is a real tribute to his parents, his family and I know people here at USC.”

“The Southeastern Conference is proud to honor the achievements of Mike and Virginia and the services they have provided in their campus communities,” said Slive. “Michael and Virginia have helped others and made their communities a better place to live through their community service actions. They are fine representatives of their families, their institutions, the Southeastern Conference and intercollegiate athletics.”

A four-year letterwinner for the Gamecock basketball team, Boynton set the school record for games played with 125. He finished his career in the top 10 of five career categories and in the top 10 in five season categories. During his USC career, he was fifth in three-point field goals made (129), sixth in three-point field goal attempts (364), seventh in highest three-point field goal shooting percentage (.354) and 10th in steals (115).

During the 2003-04 season, Boynton’s place in the record books were second in three-point field goals made (79), fourth in games started (33), fourth in minutes played (1,130), fifth in highest three-point field goal shooting percentage (.407) and fifth in three-point field goals attempted (194). He also tied an SEC Tournament record with 14 three-pointers made in the Gamecocks’ three-game run this season in Atlanta.

The son of Michael and Millicent Boynton, has been active in the Columbia community, speaking to local elementary schools, visiting area hospitals, working with foster children and local Boys and Girls Clubs. He has volunteered his time visiting with children with cancer, spoken to children at the Richland County Juvenile Court Alternative Program, given tours of USC’s basketball arena, The Colonial Center, to local Boy Scout troops, and participated in picnics and playing games with children.

The Brooklyn, N.Y., native received his undergraduate degree as a sociology major from Carolina in December, 2003. He has earned Dean’s List honors twice and is a member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll. In 2002, he attended the NCAA Leadership Conference and has been a member of the USC Student-Athlete Advisory Committee for three years. Boynton was a member of the 2003 SEC Good Works Team and was given the WFMV Carolina Gospel Award for service and leadership in the area of sport. He is also active during the summers in Brooklyn working basketball camps and mentoring children.

In addition, eight other male and 11 other female recipients for the Community Service Award will receive a $2,000 scholarship, provided by the SEC.

The 10 other male recipients are: Austin Hynson, Golf, Alabama; Caleb Miller, Football, Arkansas; Philip Yost, Football, Auburn; Trey Johnson, Tennis, Florida; Colin Underhill, Swimming and Diving, Georgia; Bradley Wheeldon, Rifle, Kentucky; Kellen Northcutt, Football, Ole Miss; Tyler Scarbrough, Baseball, Mississippi State; Brian Cleveland, Baseball, Tennessee; Russell Lakey, Basketball, Vanderbilt.

The 11 other female recipients are: Carolina Bolz, Soccer, Alabama; Jamie Walker, Track and Field, Arkansas; Carly Thomas, Soccer, Auburn; Mason Cathey, Track and Field, Florida; Eva Gessner, Golf, Kentucky; Sara Fitzgerald, Softball, LSU; Heatherlea Hopson, Soccer, Ole Miss; Tanika Taylor, Volleyball, Mississippi State; Rhashida Abdul-Malik, Track and Field, South Carolina; Lauren Mattox, Softball, Tennessee; Jessica Roguski, Lacrosse, Vanderbilt.

The SEC Community Service Post-Graduate Scholarship was first presented in 1996. Past recipients include: 2003 – Brett Kirouac, Georgia (football) and Kara Lawson, Tennessee (basketball); 2002 – Eric vanGoethem, Auburn (swimming) and Andree’ Pickens, Alabama (gymnastics); 2001 – Lance Jones, Ole Miss (basebal) and Gabby Fuchs, Florida (gymnastics); 2000 – Brett Millican, Georgia (football) and Brooke Riley, Ole Miss (soccer); 1999 – BJ McKie, South Carolina (basketball) and Carrie Kuhnell, Kentucky (soccer); 1998 – Walker Jones, Ole Miss (football) and Nicole Lees, Alabama (soccer); 1997 – Tim Lanier, LSU (baseball) and Andrea Bullock, Vanderbilt (golf); 1996 – Tony Johnson, Alabama (football) and Erin Tenbrunsel, Alabama (volleyball).