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Lu, Coughlin receive Big Ten Medal of Honor

May 14, 2020

Ivy Lu and Carter Coughlin

University of Minnesota seniors Ivy Lu (women's gymnastics) and Carter Coughlin (football) have been named the 2020 Big Ten Medal of Honor recipients for the Golden Gophers. The award is given annually to a top female and male student-athlete at each conference institution. This year, the conference is celebrating the 106th anniversary of the Big Ten Medal of Honor.

Lu earned 19 event titles during the 47 meets she competed in during her Minnesota career. She was named All-Big Ten First Team twice and was named an All-American on the uneven bars in 2018 (First Team) and 2019 (Second Team). She was the 2018 Big Ten uneven bars champion, claiming Minnesota's first Big Ten bars title since 2002. Lu is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and graduated in three years with a double major in political science and Asian language and literature. She graduates this spring with a master's degree in sport management. 

Coughlin was named All-Big Ten Second Team in 2018 and 2019 and finished his career with 159 tackles (107 solo). He ranks third all time in school history with 22.5 career sacks and fourth with 40 tackles for loss. He also forced seven fumbles and recovered one. Coughlin was named Academic All-Big Ten in 2017, 2018 and 2019, and he graduated in fall 2019 with a degree in business and marketing education.

Read more about these outstanding student-athletes.


From certifiable classic to state-of-the-art, the U of M is bursting with iconic sports facilities. We have the venerable Williams Arena (aka “The Barn”)—with its unique raised floor—which has seen a century’s worth of hardcourt history. There’s the world-class University Aquatic Center, which has hosted numerous championship events. And our puck fans light up when they walk into Mariucci and Ridder Arenas, the envy of hockey fans everywhere. Discover more about our athletics facilities.

Good Times at ‘The Bank’

On the east edge of campus, TCF Bank Stadium is one of the newest stadiums in the country. It boasts the largest home locker room in college or professional football (you could run a 60-yard dash inside it) and one of the largest video boards. It’s home to the University of Minnesota Marching Band, and hosts big-name concerts and freshman convocation.


The University of Minnesota sporting scene is rich in traditions, from Homecoming (which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2014) to homespun chants that get the crowd going.

A Tradition of Excellence

From our seven national championships in football to our 11 combined national titles in women’s and men’s hockey, the University of Minnesota is known for its athletics excellence.

Here’s a snapshot of that greatness. Last year alone, the U of M won four team conference championships along with one national championship in women's hockey. The Gophers also had three individual NCAA national champions—Yu Zhou in 3-meter diving, Kierra Smith in 200 breaststroke, and Luca Wieland in heptathlon.

Our student-athletes also excelled in the classroom. For the second year in a row, the U of M ranked first among public institutions in its Academic Progress Report (APR). Fifteen Gopher programs posted perfect APR scores in 2013-14, and Gopher student-athletes had a cumulative GPA of 3.27.

Colorful Stories

Why are the Gopher colors maroon and gold, you ask? Thank Mrs. Augusta Smith for that. She was an English instructor (with good design sense) who chose those colors for graduation garb in 1880, “which made a favorable impression on the students and faculty,” so the story goes. “Ski-U-Mah” began 130 years ago as a rugby chant, playing off a Sioux battle cry. And legendary radio announcer Halsey Hall coined the nickname “Golden Gophers” in reference to the all-gold attire of the football team in the 1930s. Those years were golden, indeed, as the Gophers won five national championships in football between 1934 and 1941.

Cheerleading was Born Here

One of the most visible traditions in all of sports originated at the University of Minnesota. In the fall of 1898, the football team had lost three straight games and an editorial in the school paper said, “Any plan that would stir up enthusiasm for athletics would be helpful.” Student Johnny Campbell offered to lead organized cheers at the next home game against Northwestern, which Minnesota won 17-6. Much of the credit went to Campbell and his “yell leaders.” At that otherwise ordinary game, the tradition of cheerleading was born.

Learn about the “Pride of Minnesota”—the University of Minnesota Marching Band—and check out the U of M school songs.

Goldy Gopher

When it comes to excellence—and toothy grins—nobody beats Goldy Gopher, the beloved U of M mascot. Goldy is both athletic (how many other rodents can stickhandle a puck on ice or crank out 56 pushups after an eighth touchdown?) and entertaining, evidenced by two national mascot champion titles this decade.

You want entertainment? Goldy’s antics will make your head spin … or is it the other way around?

A Snapshot of Gopher Greats

  • Bud Grant with football
    Bud Grant
    Harry “Bud” Grant was one of the most beloved coaches in the state of Minnesota, guiding the Minnesota Vikings to perennial success and to four Super Bowl appearances. Before that he was the ultimate multi-sport athlete for the Gophers, playing football, basketball, and baseball and earning nine letters. He played professionally in the NBA, NFL, and CFL before becoming a coach.
  • Photograph of Herb Brooks.
    Herb Brooks
    One name is most synonymous with the "Miracle on Ice"—iconic coach Herb Brooks. Brooks played at Minnesota, then won three NCAA championships as head coach of the Gophers, in 1974, 1976, and 1979. His most notable accomplishment was taking a team full of recent college players to the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid and upsetting a highly favored Soviet Union team en route to a gold medal.
  • Bronko Nagurski in uniform
    Bronko Nagurski
    Few athletes fall into the category of “legendary,” but that's where Bronko Nagurski’s legacy lives. Born in Ontario and reared in International Falls, Nagurski became an All-American tackle and fullback for the Gophers from 1927–29 before a lengthy NFL career with the Chicago Bears. He was a charter member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and in 1999 was named one of the 100 best players of all time.
  • Lindsay Whalen, Janel Carville, and others on the basketball court
    Lindsay Whalen
    Lindsay Whalen became a legend at the U while leading the Gophers to their only Final Four appearance in 2004. A magician with her no-look passes, #13 is the career leader at the U with 2,285 points. Whalen (along with U teammate Janel McCarville, also pictured), moved on to an illustrious career in the WNBA. Both currently play for the Minnesota Lynx.
  • Photograph of Tony Dungy.
    Tony Dungy
    Soft-spoken Tony Dungy has found success at every level in football. He quarterbacked the Gophers in the mid-1970s and played defensive back in the National Football league, winning a Super Bowl with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Dungy then became the poised, stoic face of the Indianapolis Colts, and was the first African American head coach to win the Super Bowl.
  • Paul Molitor posing with bat for photograph
    Paul Molitor
    A native of St. Paul, Paul Molitor was a baseball star for the Gophers, twice earning All-America honors at shortstop. He went on to a prolific, Hall of Fame career in the major leagues for three teams (Milwaukee, Toronto, and Minnesota), finishing with 3,319 hits and a batting average of .306. In November 2014 he was named manager of the Twins.
  • Krissy Wendell-Pohl on the ice
    Krissy Wendell-Pohl
    Krissy Wendell-Pohl was a star for a Gophers team that won back-to-back NCAA titles in 2004 and 2005, playing on a super-charged line with Natalie Darwitz and Kelly Stephens. She became the first player from Minnesota and from the WCHA to win the Patty Kazmaier Award as the nation's best female collegiate player. Wendell also was the first-ever female starter (catcher) in the Little League World Series.
  • Lindsey Berg returning a volleyball
    Lindsey Berg
    A native of Hawaii, Lindsey Berg was a four-year starting setter for the Gophers and still ranks second all-time in Big Ten history in both assists (5,913) and service aces (283). She then became a fixture for the national team, and has twice been named USA Volleyball Indoor Female Athlete of the Year. Berg has made three trips to the Olympics, and was captain of Team USA in London in 2012.
  • Sandy Stephens in mid-air with football
    Sandy Stephens
    Sandy Stephens hailed from Uniontown, Pennsylvania, and one was one of the first in a line of African-American players that coach Murray Warmath brought in to help redefine Minnesota football. Stephens led the Gophers to a national championship in 1960 and Rose Bowl appearances in 1961 and 1962. He was the first African-American to be named All-America at quarterback.
  • Kevin McHale on a basketball court
    Kevin McHale
    A Hibbing, Minnesota, native, Kevin McHale was a power forward for the Gophers for four years and was named All-Big Ten in 1979 and 1980. His 1,704 points and 950 rebounds are both second all-time in University history. He went on to a stellar career in the NBA with the Boston Celtics, winning three NBA championships, before becoming an NBA coach and general manager.
  • Rachel Banham on a basketball court
    Rachel Banham
    Rachel Banham is a senior for the Gopher women's basketball team, and this year set the team record for career scoring. In 2013–14 she became the first Gopher since Carol Ann Shudlick to lead the Big Ten in scoring, averaging 22.1 points per game. Banham was also named All-America Honorable Mention by the Associated Press and WBCA two consecutive years.
  • Glen Perkins pitching
    Glen Perkins
    Glen Perkins has been a Minnesota star his whole life, first for Stillwater High School, then the U of M, and now as an All-Star closer for the Minnesota Twins. He pitched two seasons for the Gophers and became a first-round selection for the Twins in 2004. After alternating as a starting pitcher and a reliever, Perkins has found his niche as a closer, and claimed a save in the 2014 MLB All-Star Game.
  • John Mariucci, as coach, with two hockey players on the ice
    John Mariucci
    Hailing from the hockey hotbed of Eveleth, Minnesota, John Mariucci first became a star player, then a legendary coach, for the Gophers. In between, he played for the Chicago Black Hawks for five years. As head coach of the Gophers, he relied on the rich talent in the state and took the Gophers to the NCAA title game in 1955. His name lives on at Mariucci Arena, home of the Gopher men’s hockey team.
  • Kelci Bryant mid-dive
    Kelci Bryant
    Kelci Bryant was a two-time NCAA champion diver for the Gophers, winning the 3-meter springboard championship in 2010 and the 1-meter title in 2011. She then returned to Olympic competition in London in 2012. With partner Abby Johnston, she won a silver medal in synchronized 3-meter diving—the first ever medal for Team USA in synchronized diving.
  • Bruce Smith with football
    Bruce Smith
    The University of Minnesota, with its storied football history and seven national titles, has had only one Heisman Trophy winner—Bruce Smith in 1941. A Faribault, Minnesota, native, Smith was a star halfback for the national championship teams in 1940 and 1941, and received the Heisman two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, which spurred him to become a U.S. Navy fighter pilot. He died of cancer at age 47.
  • Amanda Kessel on the ice
    Amanda Kessel
    In three seasons with the Gophers, Amanda Kessel racked up 231 career points to become the fourth leading scorer in Minnesota history. She was named the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner in 2012–13 while leading the Gophers to a perfect 41-0-0 season and fifth national title.

Big Time in the Big Ten

When you talk about big-time power conferences, the Big Ten tops the list. It’s the oldest Division I college athletic conference in the nation, with a lineage of legendary sports powers—Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio State, and Wisconsin, to name a few—and more than a century of athletic and academic excellence.

How big is it? The Big Ten launched the first conference-owned television network in 2007, and the Big Ten Network now has more than 50 million subscribers. And the conference is growing. Penn State became the 11th school in 1990, Nebraska the 12th in 2011, and this year the conference welcomes Maryland and Rutgers.

Welcome to the Big Ten, sports fans. It doesn’t get any bigger.

Recreation and Wellness

It’s not just about the sports that others play at the University of Minnesota. You can stay fit, healthy, and happy, too. Students have access to stunning Recreation and Wellness Centers. Here you can take group fitness classes, join in intramural sports, go climbing, swimming, or spinning, and find just the right exercise—indoors or out—to fit your needs.