Three Former NESCAC Student-Athletes Recognized by NCAA

Courtesy Bowdoin, Connecticut College, and Tufts Sports Information

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Three former NESCAC student-athletes have been recognized by the NCAA as part of the '100 Most Influential Student-Athletes' during the NCAA's Centennial Celebration.  The three former student-athletes are Bowdoin's Joan Benoit Samuelson '79, Connecticut College's Anita DeFrantz '74, and Tufts' William B. "Bill" Richardson '70.

"The list of 100 student-athletes represents the best of what college sports and higher education bring to our society,” said NCAA President Myles Brand. “Their collective positive impact serves as a model for today’s student-athletes.”

The NCAA defines the 100 Most Influential Student-Athletes as those who have made a significant impact or major contributions to society. The list - headed Jackie Robinson, Arthur Ashe, Jesse Owens and Dwight D. Eisenhower - was chosen by a special panel that included college presidents, athletics directors, faculty representatives, student-athletes and conference representatives.  Related:  NCAA Release & Complete List

The most recognizable athlete in Bowdoin history, Joan Benoit Samuelson is one of the most decorated runners in the world. A two-time champion at the Boston Marathon (setting world records in 1979 and 1983), she was presented with the Jesse Owens Award in 1984, and in 1985 earned the Sullivan Award as the top U.S. amateur athlete. She will forever be remembered for her dominating gold-medal performance in the inaugural women's marathon at the 1984 Olympic Summer Games in Los Angeles.

One of the groundbreaking female athletes of the 20th century, she has been inducted into the International Scholar-Athlete Hall of Fame, the Boys' and Girls' Clubs of America National Hall of Fame, the Maine Sports Hall of Fame, the International Women's Sports Foundation Hall of Fame, the Bowdoin College Athletic Hall of Honor and, most recently, the USATF National Track and Field Hall of Fame. A native of Cape Elizabeth, Joan Benoit Samuelson now resides in Freeport with her husband, Scott Samuelson (Bowdoin Class of 1980), and their two children.

A member of the rowing squad at Connecticut College, Anita DeFrantz went on to compete with the 1976 and 1980 U.S. Olympic rowing teams. In addition to her Olympic bronze medal performance in the 1976 Games, DeFrantz won a silver medal in the 1978 World Championships in rowing, and won six National Championships. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded her the Bronze Medal of the Olympic Order for her leadership role in fighting the U.S. government led boycott of the 1980 Olympic games in Moscow.

DeFrantz, who holds a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania, was ranked No. 19 on Sports Illustrated’s 2003 list of the 101 most influential minorities in sports, and nine times was named one of the 100 most powerful people in sports by The Sporting News. Her many honors and awards include the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund’s Black Woman of Achievement Award and the NAACP’s Jackie Robinson Sports Achievement Award.

DeFrantz is a current member and former vice president of the IOC, along with serving as president of the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles and is a Connecticut College trustee emeritus. She was the  commencement speaker at Connecticut College in 2004.

Bill Richardson, a 1970 graduate of Tufts and Fletcher School Class of 1971, played baseball at Tufts followed by embarking on a successful political career. 

Richardson is currently the Governor of New Mexico. Governor Richardson has had a distinguished career in the public sector which includes service as the United States ambassador to the United Nations, Secretary of Energy in the Clinton administration, 15 years as a member of the US House of Representatives serving the 3rd New Mexico congressional district, and as Chairman of the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Governor Richardson has been nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize for his diplomatic efforts such as negotiating the release of prisoners in Iraq and convincing corrupt heads of state to relinquish power.

Wearing #8, Richardson was a 6'1", 185-pound pitcher for the Tufts baseball team from 1968-70. During his career with the Jumbos, he averaged 8.5 strike outs and just 6.4 hits allowed per nine innings. A native of Mexico City, he arranged a 12-day, 11-game pre-season trip to Mexico for the Tufts team during his junior season in 1969. As a sophomore in 1968, he was the team's ace. He compiled a 4-4 record and 2.98 earned run average in 63.1 innings. He allowed just 43 hits and struck out 59 that season. As a senior on the 1970 team that was co-champion of the Greater Boston League, Richardson had a 3.12 era and 19 strikeouts in 17.1 innings. He posted a 2-0 record that year and allowed only 14 hits.