Momentum is at an all-time high for the Mean Green, as all athletics teams are returning to full capacity for the 2021-22 season -- buoyed by many of last season's major milestones.
Some of those Mean Green milestones included achieving the second-highest overall winning percentage in the past 40 years; claiming Conference USA Championships in softball, women's golf and men's basketball; earning UNT's first NCAA men's basketball tournament win; securing Conference USA individual championships from Audrey Tan (women's golf), Vicente Marzilio (men's golf), and Zion Hill (men's javelin); and posting a perfect score in the Academic Performance Rate in five sports.
"I am so proud of our coaches, support staff and student-athletes who continue to raise the bar of excellence as we deliver on our mission despite dealing with the challenges of a global pandemic," says Wren Baker, vice president and director of athletics. "In 2020-21, we saw a number of outstanding successes in the competitive arena, in the classroom and in the community."
Additionally, construction is nearly final on the state-of-the-art golf practice facility made possible by a gift from Jerome "Bruzzy" Westheimer and support from numerous donors, and athletics has been looking at expanding the Athletic Center to better serve student-athletes in the areas of sports medicine, strength and conditioning, and academic support.
After a challenging 18 months, this season is all about looking to the future, Baker says.
"Despite a chaotic year with many disruptions," he says, "Mean Green momentum remains strong."
Fifth-year running back DeAndre Torrey is one of 57 players named to the watch list for the 2021 Paul Hornung Award presented by Texas Roadhouse, given annually to the nation's most versatile player. Senior defensive lineman Dion Novil has been named to the watch list for the 2021 Bronko Nagurski Trophy, one of only five from Conference USA. Additionally, five North Texas football players have been named to the Conference USA preseason watch list -- including wide receiver Jyaire Shorter, offensive lineman Jacob Brammer, linebacker KD Davis, long snapper Nate Durham and Novil -- and nine have been named to Phil Steele's Preseason All-Conference USA teams.
UNT Athletics recently launched its Paramount program, designed to equip student-athletes with the knowledge and skills they need to benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness. The goal of the Paramount program is to educate Mean Green student-athletes on current legislation, assist them in the process of building their personal brand and empower them with tools to develop their own potential business opportunities.
That's how many consecutive years the North Texas tennis team has been recognized by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association for its outstanding team grade point average -- which this year, was 3.582. For all of those years, UNT has been led by head coach Sujay Lama and has had a 3.2 team GPA or greater. In addition to the team award, UNT tennis student-athletes Sophia Hummel, Nidhi Surapaneni, Lucie Devier, Kexuan Zhou and Louisa Junghanns earned ITA All-Academic individuals honors for having a 3.5-plus GPA.
Former and current Mean Green golfers prove their talents on national and international stages -- including the Olympics.
The Mean Green was shining brightly at the Tokyo Olympics this summer. PGA players and former teammates Carlos Ortiz ('13) and Sebastián Muñoz ('15) entered the final round of the men's golf competition tied for third and fifth, respectively, and were in the same pairing. Ortiz (pictured right) was among the top scorers over the first three rounds, and Muñoz (pictured top left) ended the final round competing in a seven-man playoff for the bronze medal. Ortiz is currently ranked 61st in the world and 35th in the FedEx Cup standings, and has 10 career top-10 finishes, including three this year, highlighted by his first career PGA Tour victory at the Vivint Houston Open back in November. Muñoz is currently ranked 79th in the world and 63rd in the FedEx Cup standings and won his first PGA event at the Sanderson Farms Championship in September 2019.
In April, senior Audrey Tan claimed the women's golf program's first-ever individual conference championship while leading the Mean Green to its first team conference championship in program history. In August, she qualified for the U.S. Amateur at Westchester Country Club (West Course).
And in June, incoming sophomore Vicente Marzilio automatically qualified for the U.S. Amateur at Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania with his victory at the Mexico International Amateur. The Mean Green also was represented in Oakmont by transfer Tucker Allen, who joined the program from Oklahoma. The last time two members of the UNT golf team played in the US Am was 2013, when Ortiz and Rodolfo Cazaubon qualified.