Three Belmont University athletic teams were honored by the NCAA Thursday in its annual Division I Academic Progress Rate (APR) Public Recognition Awards.
Belmont men’s basketball, men’s soccer and men’s tennis each ranked in the top 10 percent within their respective sports nationwide among NCAA Division-I programs for their academic progress rate as determined by the NCAA. The APR provides a real-time look at a team’s academic success each semester by tracking the academic progress of each student-athlete. The APR includes eligibility, retention and graduation in the calculation and provides a clear picture of the academic culture in each sport.
Testament to its commitment to success on the court and in the classroom, Belmont is one of only four institutions in Division-I men’s basketball to make the APR top 10 percent list and earn a berth to the NCAA Championship Tournament each of the last three years: Belmont, Davidson, North Carolina and Villanova. For the 2007-08 season, 33 institutions boasted APRs in the top 10 percent, of which just 10 made NCAA tournament appearances. There are 341 institutions playing NCAA Division-I men’s basketball.
Moreover, each of Belmont’s top three career scorers for its NCAA-era – Wes Burtner, Justin Hare and Adam Mark – have been named to multiple ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America teams.
“Belmont student-athletes are continuing with their remarkable levels of achievement,” Belmont University President Bob Fisher said. “We are pleased that the extraordinary efforts put forth by our student-athletes, coaches, and athletics’ staff to excel both in the classroom and on the playing field have been recognized by the NCAA.”
The Bruin men’s soccer program has long been a regional model of academic success. Also recognized in last year’s APR report, the team has had a staggering 45 Atlantic Sun All-Academic honorees over the past three years, with student-athletes Chris Anderson, Channing Twyner and Cyrus Eaton earning Academic All-District awards. Furthermore, one of the Bruins’ most accomplished players – two-time Atlantic Sun Conference Defensive Player of the Year Jay Ayres – was named finalist for a coveted NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship before earning a roster spot on the MLS San Jose Earthquakes.
Likewise, Belmont men’s tennis ranks among the league leaders in percentage of its team members earning Academic All-Conference recognition. The Bruins represented the Atlantic Sun Conference in the 2006 NCAA Men’s Tennis Championship.
Along with recent recognition for its teams with APRs in the top 10 percent, five times in school history a Belmont team has earned the top GPA in the nation for its respective sport. This past fall, Belmont men’s cross country was recognized by the U.S. Track & Field Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) as having the highest overall team GPA in the country at 3.57.
In the fall semester of 2007, the athletics department posted a 3.25 GPA, marking the 20th consecutive semester that the departmental GPA has exceeded a 3.00.
“The far-reaching academic success of our Belmont athletic program is one of my greatest sources of pride,” Belmont University Director of Athletics Mike Strickland said. “Our ability to see annual improvement both on the field of play and in the classroom speaks volumes to the dedication of our student-athletes, coaches and academic support staff.”
In its six years in the Atlantic Sun Conference, Belmont has claimed the Atlantic Sun Conference Academic Trophy an unprecedented five times. The Academic Trophy is given annually to the conference school with the greatest percentage of student-athletes receiving All-Academic honors.
Complete Academic Progress Rate report information can be accessed at www.ncaa.org.