Senior standouts both on and off the court for the Wisconsin men’s basketball program, Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig were each announced this week as candidates for the 2017 Senior CLASS Award, which recognizes notable achievements in community, classroom, character and competition.

The Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. Hayes and Koenig have certainly exemplified that, as both have not only become leaders for the nationally-ranked Badgers, but have also been proactive in their activism for social change in a variety of forums.

With the list of candidates for the Senior CLASS Award now narrowed down to 30 student-athletes, Wisconsin is the only school in the country with two candidates for the honor.

Bronson Koenig (Photo by Rob Chappell, Madison365)
Bronson Koenig
(Photo by Rob Chappell, Madison365)

Majoring in business finance and investment banking, Hayes is a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and has upheld a cumulative grade-point average of 3.049. The Toledo, Ohio, native has become vocal in his activism for both racial progress and student-athlete welfare. Year-in and year-out, Hayes is among the team leaders in community service hours as part of the Badgers Give Back community outreach program. This season specifically, Hayes has become very involved with the Dane County Boys & Girls Club, mentoring youth and helping with fund-raising.

“I believe it is our responsibility as people to try to better the world around us, but I recognize that the platform I have allows for greater visibility,” said Hayes. “I’m trying to use that influence I have to make positive change.”

A life sciences communication major currently on track to graduate this May, Koenig has become a spokesman and role model for those in the Native American community. A member of the Ho-Chunk tribe, Koenig recently visited the Dakota Pipeline Protests and spoke with youth of the Standing Rock tribe. Like his teammates, Koenig also participates in the Badgers Give Back community outreach program.

“Being a role model, speaking out about issues and offering encouragement to the Native American community is one of the biggest priorities in my life,” said Koenig. “I’m trying to make an impact any way I can.”

Hayes and Koenig are the latest in a lineage of Badgers qualified to win the Senior CLASS Award. In 2007, Alando Tucker was awarded the Senior CLASS Award. Frank Kaminsky and Jon Leuer were among the 10 finalists for the award in 2014-15 and 2010-11, respectively.

The 30 candidates will be narrowed to 10 finalists in February, and those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will select one male candidate and one female candidate who best exemplifies excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character and competition. The Senior CLASS Award winners will be announced during the 2017 NCAA Men’s Final Four and NCAA Women’s Final Four this spring. For more information on each of the candidates, visit