NEC Announces 2019-20 Winter Scholar-Athletes, Academic Honor Roll & Commissioner’s Honor Roll - Northeast Conference Skip To Main Content


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The Official Site of the Northeast Conference


NEC Announces 2019-20 Winter Scholar-Athletes, Academic Honor Roll & Commissioner’s Honor Roll


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Somerset, NJ -- The Northeast Conference (NEC) today honored an accomplished group of student-athletes with the announcement of its 2019-20 Winter Scholar-Athlete award winners

LIU and Sacred Heart earned two awards apiece, with one each going to student-athletes from Robert Morris, Saint Francis U and Wagner.

All scholar-athlete award winners must have earned a minimum of 60 semester hours at their institution, maintained a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.20 and participated with distinction as a member of a varsity team.

Along with the scholar-athletes, the NEC announced its Winter Academic Honor Roll, consisting of a record 825 student-athletes with a 3.20 or better grade point average. There were also a record 265 student-athletes named to the Winter Commissioner’s Honor Roll, recognizing those superior student-athletes with a 3.75 or better grade point average.

Sacred Heart junior forward E.J. Anosike (East Orange, NJ/Paramus Catholic) was the recipient of the men’s basketball scholar-athlete award. In leading the Pioneers to their first-ever 20-win season at the DI level, he earned first team All-NEC honors, NABC All-District first team plaudits and was named a Lou Henson All-American. A rebounding force, Anosike paced the NEC and ranked sixth nationally with 11.6 rpg. His 18 double-doubles also topped the NEC charts and placed him seventh in the country. The 2018-19 NEC Most Improved Player also averaged 15.7 ppg to rank seventh in the league and he was a five-time NEC Player of the Week. His 383 rebounds were the most by an NEC player since the 1984-85 season and ranked third on the conference’s single-season list. A Finance and Business Economics major out of East Orange, NJ, Anosike has compiled a 3.57 GPA during his time at Sacred Heart. He is a three-time NEC Academic Honor Roll honoree.


Robert Morris senior center Nneka Ezeigbo (Ewing, NJ/Notre Dame) was tabbed the women’s basketball co-scholar-athlete of the year. One of the league’s premier bigs, Ezeigbo was a driving force behind the Colonials winning a fourth consecutive NEC regular season title with a 17-1 mark. She ranked in the NEC top-10 with 14.1 ppg (seventh), 8.3 rpg (fourth), 0.9 bpg (eighth), 1.7 spg (ninth), nine double-doubles (third) and 48.7 percent shooting from the field (fourth). Ezeigbo was a three-time All-NEC performer, earning first team honors in her junior and senior seasons, and was the 2018-19 NEC Defensive Player of the Year. A four-time NEC Player of the Week selection in 2019-20, Ezeigbo ascended to the top-10 in program history in six categories, including fourth in rebounds (859) and seventh in points (1,358). She is also one of just four players in RMU annals to accumulate 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 100 blocks and 100 steals in a career. The Ewing, NJ product is a Psychology major who maintains a 3.57 grade point average. Ezeigbo attained NEC Academic Honor Roll status in each of her four years.


Saint Francis U junior guard Karson Swogger (Bellwood, PA/Bellwood-Antis) claimed co-scholar-athlete honors in women’s hoops. Swogger paced the Red Flash with 11.5 ppg and 51 three-pointers on her way to third team All-NEC accolades at year’s end. She ranked second in the league in free throw shooting (.847), eighth in made triples (1.7), and 12th in scoring and assists (2.5). The Bellwood, PA product has amassed 810 points and 136 three-pointers over her first three seasons in Loretto. A Nursing major, Swogger sports a 3.79 grade point average. She has been named to the NEC Academic & Commissioner’s Honor Roll on three occasions.


Sacred Heart senior Rachel Bamford (Rochester, NH/Spaulding) was a double winner, collecting both NEC Player of the Year and scholar-athlete honors in women’s bowling after sparking the Pioneers to a league-best 13-5 record over three conference meets. Over the course of the NEC’s 18-match regular season, Bamford accounted for a team-high 19.68 pins per frame. Pacing the circuit, she filled frames at an 87.7 percent clip and during NEC baker battles, Bamford filled a league-high 91.2 percent of frames. The 2019 NEC Tournament MVP led SHU for the season and ranked fourth in the NEC with 19.61 pins per frame, the highest mark amongst those who bowled more than 1,000 frames. Leading Sacred Heart to a 61-36 overall record and a No. 13 ranking in the NTCA Power Index, Bamford struck on 44.2 percent of her attempts and proceeded to fill 85.5 percent of frames. She was named first team All-NEC in each of the last two seasons and is a three-time member of the NEC Academic and Commissioner’s Honor Roll. Bamford is a Biology major who carries a 3.84 grade point average.


Wagner senior distance runner Jonathan Besselink (Kingston, Ontario/Holy Cross Catholic Secondary) took home the fourth scholar-athlete award in his career, adding indoor track and field to his list of honors that also includes a pair of cross country accolades and outdoor track recognition last spring. Besselink scored 10 points at the NEC Indoor Track & Field Championships with a pair of fourth place finishes in the 3K & 5K, and ran a leg on Wagner’s first place distance medley team to help boost the Seahawks to their first-ever team title. A four-time Academic and Commissioner’s Honor Roll selection, Besselink enters the spring semester with a 3.92 grade point average while working towards a degree in Business Administration.


LIU senior Stephanie Esogenwune (Pretoria, South Africa/Sutherland) earned women’s indoor track and field scholar-athlete honors. Esogenwune was spectacular at the NEC Indoor Track & Field Championships in February, finishing with 23 points to claim the Most Outstanding Performer (Jumps) award. She won the high jump with a personal best and ECAC qualifying mark of 1.70 meters, and was the runner-up in the triple jump with another PR and ECAC mark of 12.25 meters. Esogenwune added five more points with a fourth place showing in the long jump (5.53m) as the Sharks finished third at the meet. Hailing from Pretoria, South Africa, the senior has been named to the NEC Academic and Commissioner’s Honor Roll lists in each of the last three years. She maintains a 3.90 grade point average and majors in Political Science.


LIU junior Amanda Peren (Alexandria, VA/Thomas Edison) was at the top of her game in the pool and in the classroom on her way to women’s swimming and diving scholar-athlete distinction. She was named the Most Outstanding Swimmer at the NEC Championships in February after setting a pair of conference and school records in the 200 IM and 200 free. Peren clocked in at 2:00.30 in the 200 IM and snapped a 14-year old record in the 200 free with a time of 1:47.26. The Alexandria, VA native capped her weekend with a win in the 100 free in a school record time of 49.71. She also medaled in the 400 free relay (silver), the 400 medley relay (silver) and the 800 free relay (bronze). Peren has been recognized on the NEC Academic & Commissioner’s Honor Roll all three of her years at LIU. She is a Middle Childhood & Adolescence Education major and compiled a near-perfect 3.95 grade point average.

2019-20 Northeast Conference Winter Scholar-Athletes
Sport                       Name                  School           Cl     GPA     Major

Men’s Basketball            E.J. Anosike          Sacred Heart     Jr.    3.57    Finance & Business Economics
Women’s Basketball          Nneka Ezeigbo         Robert Morris    Sr.    3.57    Psychology
                            Karson Swogger        Saint Francis U  Jr.    3.79    Nursing
Women’s Bowling             Rachel Bamford        Sacred Heart     Jr.    3.84    Biology
Men’s Indoor T&F            Jonathan Besselink    Wagner           Sr.    3.92    Business Administration
Women’s Indoor T&F          Stephanie Esogenwune  LIU              Sr.    3.90    Political Science
Women’s Swimming & Diving   Amanda Peren          LIU              Jr.    3.95    Middle Childhood & Adolescence Education

About The Northeast Conference
Now in its 39th year, the Northeast Conference is an NCAA Division I collegiate athletic association consisting of 11 institutions of higher learning located throughout seven states. Media coverage of the NEC extends to a number of the largest markets in the United States - New York (#1), Boston (#9), Pittsburgh (#24), Baltimore (#26), Hartford/New Haven (#33) and Providence (#53).  Founded in 1981 as the basketball-only ECAC Metro Conference, the NEC has grown to sponsor 23 championship sports for men and women and now enjoys automatic access to 16 different NCAA Championships. NEC member institutions include Bryant, Central Connecticut, Fairleigh Dickinson, LIU, Merrimack, Mount St. Mary’s, Robert Morris, Sacred Heart, St. Francis Brooklyn, Saint Francis U and Wagner. For more information on the NEC, visit the league’s official website ( and digital network (, or follow the league on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat, all @NECsports.