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No Ordinary Joe

The members of the IUP basketball team are adept at making baskets. Predictions, too, it turns out. The Crimson Hawks just knew Joe Rocco belonged at the head of the class.

Joe Rocco

Rocco, a junior guard who provided valuable minutes off the bench during IUP’s run to the national title game, was honored with the NCAA Elite 88 Academic Award for Division II men’s basketball during a banquet held prior to the Elite Eight in Springfield, Mass. The award, based on cumulative grade-point average, is presented to one individual at each of the eighty-eight national championships sponsored by the NCAA.

With a 3.949 GPA through five semesters, Rocco was a shoo-in—at least in the minds of his teammates. “We were sitting there [at the banquet], and they brought out the award and said it had to do with academics,” said Rocco, a Biology major from Northern Cambria. “I didn’t even know what it was. I had no clue. And then, all the guys at the table were like, ‘Roc, that’s going to be you.’ Then I hear someone say, ‘The winner is … Joe Rocco.’ I was just completely shocked.”

Rocco has fashioned a near-perfect transcript at IUP since enrolling in 2007; the only blemish was a B he received in English. He earned straight As again in the Spring semester to boost his grade-point average even higher.

“Joe certainly is the ideal student-athlete,” said IUP coach Joe Lombardi. “He’s a young man with strong core values you’re not going to find in too many twenty-year-old college students. You talk about a gold standard—he’s it.”

Related article:
Magic in a Bottle

Rocco has also earned rave reviews from Biology professor Amadu Ayebo, whose son Danny just happens to play for the Crimson Hawks. “Joe was in Dr. Ayebo’s class [Microbiology]—and I’m sure these were not just ordinary students; they were probably science students—and he got the only A,” Lombardi said. “Dr. Ayebo thinks Joe Rocco’s like the best student he’s ever had.”

Rocco will graduate next May and head off to medical school. After that? “The hospital environment’s really what interests me,” he said. “Whether it’s surgery or internal medicine, I definitely see myself working in a hospital environment.”

Dr. Rocco? Could that be some day? Just ask his teammates. As they proved at the Elite Eight banquet, they can foretell the future.

IUP’s Best Seasons

Most Wins

33-3 2009-2010 Joe Lombardi
29-2 1994-1995 Kurt Kanaskie
28-5 2001-2002 Gary Edwards
27-3 1993-1994 Kurt Kanaskie
25-3 1957-1958 Peck McKnight
25-8 1999-2000 Gary Edwards
24-4 1970-1971 Carl Davis
24-7 1995-1996 Kurt Kanaskie
24-9 2004-2005 Gary Edwards
  Three teams tied with 22

Highest Percentage

.935 29-2 1994-95 Kurt Kanaskie
.917 33-3 2009-10 Joe Lombardi
.917 22-2 1968-69 Herm Sledzik
.900 27-3 1993-94 Kurt Kanaskie
.893 25-3 1957-58 Peck McKnight
.857 24-4 1970-71 Carl Davis
.848 28-5 2001-02 Gary Edwards
.840 21-4 1969-70 Herm Sledzik
.815 22-5 1998-99 Gary Edwards
.800 20-5 1975-76 Carl Davis

More from the Summer 2010 Issue of IUP Magazine

Magic in a Bottle

Magic in a Bottle

The 2009–2010 men’s basketball team won more games than any other and competed on nationwide television for the Division II crown.


Leaders Made Here

In six decades, the ROTC program at IUP has produced nearly two thousand U.S. Army second lieutenants, not to mention eight generals.

Above the Caption

Legacy Gala, Ruddock Hall, who’s in that photo, and more


Highlights about IUP faculty members, past and present


The latest IUP player to be picked in the NFL draft, plus other newsworthy IUP athletes

IUP Magazine Web Exclusives

Professor Shari Robertson and her daughter Brianna Robertson ’09 

Diphthongs and Dahntahn 

June 30, 2010
What distinguishes our Western Pennsylvania dialect?

We Have Survived

“We Have Survived”

May 12, 2010
Promoting Native American awareness at IUP.

Green Acres

Green Acres

April 21, 2010
Explore the 270 acres of the Co-op Recreational Park and the IUP Sailing Base at Yellow Creek State Park.