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UK great Kovach named to Academic Hall of Fame

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Jim Kovach, one of the most well-respected figures in Kentucky football history and the medical world, earned a proud honor Thursday when he was named to CoSIDA's Academic All-America Hall of Fame, which is reserved for student-athletes who earned Academic All-America in college and have gone on to great distinction during their post-athletic careers.

Kovach and three other honorees - Dewey Selmon from Oklahoma, Adonal Foyle of Colgate and Connecticut College's Anita DeFrantz - will join 108 previous inductees in the CoSIDA Academic All-America Hall of Fame, which was created in 1988. The four will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at CoSIDA's annual workshop in San Francisco in July 6.

"The CoSIDA Academic All-America Hall of Fame represents everything we all believe college athletics can be and the Class of 2010 certainly lives up to that standard," said Justin Doherty of the University of Wisconsin, the 2009-10 CoSIDA president. "These four individuals were high achievers as student-athletes and continue to make a positive impact on society to this day. They each add something special to the Academic All-America Hall of Fame and CoSIDA is very proud to recognize their extraordinary contributions."

An Academic All-America selection in 1978, Kovach was the first player in modern NCAA history to attend medical school while playing major college football. A three-time All-Southeastern Conference linebacker at Kentucky, he set a school record with 521 career tackles that still stands. A first-team All-SEC honoree in 1978, Kovach helped the Wildcats win the 1976 SEC championship. Selected to play in the Hula Bowl following his senior season, Kovach earned an NCAA Top Five Award, an NCAA post-graduate scholarship in 1979.

After being drafted by the New Orleans Saints, he played seven seasons in the NFL as a linebacker for the Saints and the San Francisco 49ers. He was the Saints' leading tackler from 1981 to 1984 and was named as the Saints' Most Valuable Player in 1983. He continued to play in the NFL while attending medical school during the offseason. 

Kovach earned his medical degree from Kentucky in 1984, and he earned a law degree from Stanford University in 1990.He is currently the president and chief operating officer for the Buck Institute for Age Research, the only independent research institute dedicated to research on aging and age-associated disease. There he has helped conduct research on brain injuries in the NFL and led the way in genetics research.

Kovach has been active in both local and regional community services throughout his business career, with a focus in the area of education, health and aging. He has been active with the Marin County School-to-Career Partners, the NFL Retired Players Association, the Consortium for Translational Research in Advancing Imaging and Nanomedicine while serving as an adjunct professor at Dominican University of California.  Dr. Kovach also serves on the board of directors for the Alliance for Aging Research and the North Bay Leadership Council.

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