The NCAA has named Elizabeth Ortiz, a women’s track student-athlete from The University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley, and Isaiah Marable, a men’s track student-athlete and recent graduate of Sacramento State, as the recipients of the 2021 Accelerating Academic Success Program Student-Athlete Career Development Award. The pair were recognized at the AASP virtual conference this week.
The AASP was created in 2012 by the NCAA Executive Committee, which is now the Board of Governors. The AASP Student-Athlete Career Development Award honors two individuals each year who plan to pursue a career in athletics. Award requirements include attending an AASP eligible school; being a sophomore or higher; having a cumulative grade-point average of 2.8 or higher; being eligible for athletics competition; and being able to attend the AASP annual conference. Ortiz and Marable were selected for the award by the AASP Selection Committee.
The AASP provides academic and financial support to Division I schools with limited resources that are working to meet the NCAA’s academic standards. Eligible schools receive financial grants to help develop initiatives and systems designed to increase graduation rates and ensure academic success for student-athletes. The NCAA has awarded over $18.8 million to its colleges and universities for academic enhancements since the program began.
“I am honored to receive this award, and it feels great to be given the opportunity to expand my knowledge to help me grow toward a career in sports,” Ortiz said. “Sports have always meant so much to me growing up, and having the opportunity in the future to make an impact on student-athletes the way my academic advisors, athletic trainers and administrators have made on me is something I look forward to. Participating in the NCAA Career in Sport Forum and the AASP Conference has allowed me to expand my network and build my resume to lead me toward a bright career within collegiate athletics.”
“I feel incredibly honored and blessed to be receiving this award, as it serves as one form of validation that I am seen and heard in my pursuit of a career in collegiate athletics,” Marable said. “I thank God for the opportunities he has provided for me within the last year at Sacramento State, the Big Sky Conference and now at the NCAA level. My job, however, isn’t finished yet, as my ultimate goal is to become an athletic director at a Division I university and continue to move the needle in college athletics regarding diversity, equity and inclusion within athletic departments. This is truly only the beginning, and I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for me.”
Ortiz is an exercise science major with a minor in marketing, and she plans to complete her undergraduate studies next spring. She has been a member of the UTRGV Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and is the incoming president for the 2021-22 academic year. As SAAC president, she plans to work closely with athletics officials as the department continues to recover from changes due to COVID-19. Additionally, she has also been a member of the Western Athletic Conference SAAC. Ortiz has been a mentor to incoming freshmen at her university and been instrumental in the creation of an athletics SAAC branding video. She plans to pursue a master’s degree next year at UTRGV and wants to work in Division I athletics in the future.
Marable recently graduated with a degree in kinesiology with a concentration in exercise science. He is also president of the Sacramento State SAAC. Marable has assumed other leadership roles, as well. He is serving as secretary of the Big Sky SAAC, and he soon will become president of the Big Sky SAAC, in addition to its Division I SAAC representative. He is now enrolled at Oklahoma, where he will pursue a master’s degree in adult and higher education with a concentration in intercollegiate athletics administration. He also will be a graduate assistant in human resources at Oklahoma and will fulfill duties with the Big Sky Conference while working on his master’s degree.