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Villanova wins Big East Presidents’ Award

As a new year is underway, Villanova was revealed to be the best all-around in the conference back in 2021-22.

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament - First Round - Pittsburgh Photo by Justin K. Aller/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

The Big East Presidents’ Award is headed back to the Main Line.

On Thursday, the conference announced the winner of its annual award, which recognizes the top Big East school athletically, academically and active in community service each year.

The Wildcats were honored for their all-around performance for the 2021-22 school year. This is the fourth time Villanova has received the honor since its inception in 2015.

Villanova University previously earned the Big East Presidents’ Award for the 2014-15, 2015-16, and 2017-18 school years — the first three out of four years the accolade was introduced.

“We are incredibly humbled to once again be presented with the Presidents’ Award from the BIG EAST Conference, one of the nation’s premier conferences,” said Director of Athletics Mark Jackson in a statement. “This honor is shared by our entire campus community, from the unwavering support of President Father Peter Donohue, who steadfastly champions our success to the tireless work of the Villanova Athletics coaches, athletic administration and support staff. However, first and foremost, this award was made possible by our student-athletes, who consistently excel in athletic competition and in the classroom, while also remaining committed to serving the community.”

In the classroom, Villanova earned a program-record six Big East Scholar-Athlete Sport Excellence awards.

While the graduation rate data for 2021-22 is still being finalized throughout the NCAA and will likely be available in December, Villanova athletes had been posting a graduation success rate of 96% or higher in each of the three years preceding it, which was among the top in the Big East and nation-wide. Expect another high mark for the ‘Cats once that data is made public.

Athletically, it was a big year for Villanova as a whole. The men’s basketball team made headlines in its run to another Big East title and NCAA Tournament Final Four. The women’s swimming and diving team also won its ninth straight Big East championship, and the softball team repeated as conference champs and made its second straight NCAA regional appearance.

The men’s soccer team made its second NCAA Tournament in program history and made it to the second round. The women’s basketball team also danced and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Women’s cross country tallied its sixth NCAA appearance in seven years as a team.

There was also individual representation at the NCAAs for men’s cross country, women’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s indoor track and field, and men’s and women’s outdoor track and field.

Nine different Villanova athletes earned All-American status in 2021-22: Sanaa Barnes (women’s indoor track), Matt Campbell (men’s lacrosse), Chet Comizio (men’s lacrosse) , Malik Cunningham (men’s indoor track), Sean Dolan (men’s indoor track, and once again for men’s outdoor track season), Collin Gillespie (men’s basketball), McKenna Morgan (women’s indoor track), Maddy Siegrist (women’s basketball), and Haftu Strintzos (men’s cross country and once again for men’s outdoor track season).

Four Villanovans earned major Big East awards, with Collin Gillespie winning Big East Player of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year in men’s basketball. Maddy Siegrist was also named Big East Player of the Year in women’s basketball. Lior Garzon, who has since transferred to Oklahoma State, was Big East Co-Most Improved Player of the Year, and women’s basketball coach Denise Dillon earned Big East Coach of the Year nods.

A total of 136 Villanovans earned All-Big East honors across 19 different sports teams. The Wildcats also produced dozens of Big East individual champs in track and field and swimming and diving.