Breaking its own precedent, Belmont University won the Atlantic Sun Conference’s All-Academic Trophy for the fifth year in a row in the school’s fifth year as a member of the A-Sun, becoming the only school in league history to win the award five times. The award is given annually to the conference school with the greatest percentage of student-athletes who earned a GPA of 3.0 or higher at the end of the academic year. Of Belmont’s 270 student-athletes, 65.1 percent received Academic All-Conference honors for the 2005-06 school year.
“At Belmont, we are committed to having our student-athletes be students first,” Belmont President Bob Fisher said. “We are excited to have their hard work in the classroom be recognized. In a year that saw both our men’s basketball and tennis teams compete in the NCAA championship tournaments and our women’s basketball team earn first place in their regular season, this award is a tremendous validation of all our athletes’ successes inside and outside of the classroom.”
The Belmont Bruins are coming off a banner year that saw the men’s basketball team make school history with their first invitation to the NCAA Championship Tournament after defeating rival Lipscomb University in the A-Sun Tournament Championship. The women’s basketball team earned regular season championship honors and was invited to the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT). The men’s tennis team also won its tournament championship and was invited to the NCAA championship tournament.
“We are thrilled to capture this trophy again for the fifth consecutive year,” Mike Strickland, Director of Athletics at Belmont, said. “Earning this honor is important to everyone on the Belmont campus and credit should be given to the commitment of our academic staff, coaches, and especially our student-athletes who continue to take great pride in their classroom performance.”
The men’s tennis team, along with the women’s golf team, had 100 percent of their roster achieve Academic All-Conference honors. The men’s golf, women’s tennis and women’s cross-country teams all had every team member except one make All-Conference honors.
Several Belmont student-athletes earned individual honors at the national level for their success in the classroom. Justin Hare (men’s basketball), Chris Anderson (men’s soccer), Channing Twyner (men’s soccer) and Sarah Brandt (women’s soccer) were named to the Academic All-District IV team.
Several teams were also recognized nationally for their collective academic success. The men’s cross-country team ranked first in the nation and the women’s team ranked sixth for having the highest team GPAs for their respective sports. The NCAA 2005-06 Academic Progress Rate (APR) Recognition Award recognized Belmont’s baseball, men’s basketball, men’s soccer, women’s tennis and men’s tennis. These teams ranked in the top 10th percentile in the nation of all Division I sports.
The athletics department at Belmont offers several programs to its student-athletes to equip them with the tools and resources they need to be successful in the classroom. An academic lab is available exclusively for student-athletes to study or work on papers or projects. Free tutoring is available to those who need a little extra assistance or want to boost their GPA. Each team is issued a laptop while their sport is in season for student-athletes to utilize for schoolwork while traveling to away games or matches. Freshman student-athletes are required to log six hours of study hall each week their first semester on campus, along with weekly academic counseling sessions.
The Atlantic Sun Conference is a 10-member Division I league headquartered in Macon, Ga. Its membership includes Belmont, Campbell, East Tennessee State, Gardner Webb, Jacsonville, Kennesaw State, Lipscomb, Mercer, North Florida and Stetson.