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June 14, 2012

Omaha, Neb. – South Carolina sophomore infielder Erik Payneis the recipient of the Elite 89 award for the 2012 NCAA Division I Men’s Baseball Championship, it was announced on Thursday evening. Payne received the honor at a private version of the Opening Ceremonies at Mancuso Hall at the Omaha Civic Center. Severe thunderstorms cancelled the public Opening Ceremonies at TD Ameritrade Park.

The Elite 89, an award founded by the NCAA, recognizes the true essence of the student-athlete by honoring the individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the national championship level in his or her sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among his or her peers. The Elite 89 is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA’s championships.

Eligible student-athletes are sophomores or above who have participated in their sport for at least two years with their school. They must be an active member of the team, traveling and a designated member of the squad size at the championship. All ties are broken by the number of credits completed.

Payne, majoring in international business, currently carries a 3.897 GPA. He has played in 35 games with 28 starts on the year and is batting .264 (24-for-91) with three homers and 16 RBI as well as four doubles and a pair of triples.

It is the second straight year the Gamecocks have won the award as Michael Rothwas recipient of the 2011 NCAA Elite Award at the College World Series.

For more information on the Elite 89 award winners, log on to