Women's Tennis Honored Nationally for Academic Achievements

2011-12 Women's Tennis
2011-12 Women's Tennis

INDIANAPOLIS, IND. - - Seven Belmont University athletic teams were honored Thursday as part of the 2012 NCAA Division I Academic Performance Program (APP).

Belmont baseball, men's basketball, women's basketball, women's golf,  men's soccer, women's soccer and women's tennis were highlighted on the Academic Progress Rate (APR) Public Recognition Announcement – signifying each program ranking in the top 10 percent within their respective sports nationwide for their academic progress rate as determined by the NCAA.

The APR provides a real-time look at a team's academic standing each semester by tracking the academic progress of each student-athlete. The APR accounts for eligibility, retention and graduation in the calculation and provides a clear picture of the academic culture in each sport.

This recognition continues a remarkable stretch of unparalleled athletic and academic success for Belmont baseball. Head coach Dave Jarvis' program joins exclusive company, as one of only six teams in the nation to earn APR Public Recognition while making back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances (Baylor, Kent State, Miami (Fla.), Stanford, and Vanderbilt are the other five). Baseball has won 77 games the past two seasons, including consecutive Atlantic Sun Conference tournament titles.

For men's basketball, in particular, this continues its tradition of success on the court and in the classroom. Belmont is one of only six institutions in Division-I men's basketball to make the Public Recognition List every year since its inception in 2006 (Brigham Young, Brown, Columbia, Davidson, and Princeton are the other five). Over that seven year span, the Bruins have won 164 games, 10 Atlantic Sun Conference championships (five regular season, five tournament), and made six postseason appearances – including five in the NCAA Tournament. This year, Belmont finished with a 27-8 record and a No. 14 seed in the NCAA Tournament second round.

Moreover, Belmont men's basketball leads the nation in Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-Americans since 2001 with 10, and seven of the last 11 Atlantic Sun Conference Male Student-Athletes of the Year have been Belmont Basketball players.

"Today's announcement further validates our vision of a positive collegiate athletic experience, and the academic support system we have in place," Belmont University Director of Athletics Mike Strickland said. "We are proud of our reputation as an athletic program committed to both athletic and academic success, and the credit goes to our student-athletes, coaches and academic support staff."

Women's basketball, who boasted 10 Atlantic Sun Academic All-Conference honorees this year, made the APR list for the first time. Five times in the past decade women's basketball has ranked among the Top 12 programs in the nation in team GPA. Haley Nelson was named First Team All-Atlantic Sun, and after a third-place finish in the regular season standings, the future looks bright with seven returning letterwinners and a bevy of talented newcomers.

This marks the fourth consecutive year women's golf has been honored by the NCAA. On 15 occasions, a Bruin has been named All-American Scholar by the National Golf Coaches Association (NGCA).  Kelly Maguigan and Janet Steen were named to the inaugural Atlantic Sun All-Academic Team. Two-time Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Year Lorie Warren received the 2009 Belmont Presidential Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award, while more recently, head coach Lissa Bradford received the NGCA Gladys Palmer Meritorious Service Award.

Likewise, men's soccer has established itself as a national model of academic success. One of just seven programs in the country to receive APR honor roll status each of the past seven years (Brown, Colgate, Dartmouth, Duke, Northwestern and Penn are the other six), the Bruins have 94 Atlantic Sun All-Academic honorees over the past eight years. In addition, student-athletes Chris Anderson, Cyrus Eaton, Brett Parker, and Channing Twyner have earned Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-District awards. One of the Bruins' most accomplished players - two-time Atlantic Sun Conference Defensive Player of the Year and 2008 graduate Jay Ayres - was named finalist for a coveted NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship before moving on to a career in professional soccer.

This also marks the third straight year Belmont women's soccer has made the Public Recognition List. This past November, the Bruins earned the prestigious National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA)/adidas College Women's Team Academic Award for a seventh consecutive year, and eighth overall in program history. Since the inception of the NCAA Academic Performance Program in 2006, Belmont women's soccer has produced 136 Atlantic Sun All-Academic honorees. Moreover, a staggering 26 of 28 total roster members in 2011-12 posted at least a 3.0 GPA. Morgan McBride and Gretchen Sutch were named to the Atlantic Sun All-Academic Team.

Women's tennis adds a third APR honor, joining 2006 and 2007. The Bruins have received the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) National Academic Team Award on six occasions, while 19 women's tennis players have garnered individual academic ITA honors. Natalia Nunes was named to the Atlantic Sun All-Academic Team.

In 2011-12, the athletic department posted a grade-point average of 3.348 – the highest in Belmont's NCAA Division I era. Spring 2012 marked the 28th straight semester that the departmental GPA has exceeded 3.0.

Belmont once again paced the Atlantic Sun Conference with seven teams on the Public Recognition List. East Tennessee State and Jacksonville each had three teams honored, while Lipscomb and North Florida each had one.

"Belmont student-athletes raise the standard on academic achievement year after year," Belmont University President Bob Fisher said. "Following the 2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, a reporter wrote that `Belmont is the Princeton of Tennessee.' You can't argue with that assessment. Our teams stand alongside ones from the most revered academic institutions in America."

In its first 10 years in the Atlantic Sun Conference, Belmont has claimed the Atlantic Sun Conference Academic Trophy eight times. The Academic Trophy is given annually to the conference school with the greatest percentage of student-athletes receiving All-Academic honors. In 2011-12, nearly 77 percent of Belmont student-athletes achieved a grade point average of 3.0 or higher in their semester of competition.

Seven Bruin teams making the APR list is a single-year program record. The Ohio Valley Conference, which Belmont is set to officially join July 1, had 18 teams recognized.

Multiyear APRs for all Division I sports teams, including the teams receiving public recognition, will be announced at a later date. That announcement also will include immediate and historical penalties for low-performing teams.

Complete Academic Progress Rate report information can be accessed at www.ncaa.org.

About Belmont University

Ranked No. 7 in the Regional Universities South category and named for the fourth consecutive year as one of the top "Up-and-Comer" universities by U.S. News & World Report, Belmont University consists of approximately 6,400 students who come from every state and 25 countries. Committed to being a leader among teaching universities, Belmont brings together the best of liberal arts and professional education in a Christian community of learning and service. The university's purpose is to help students explore their passions and develop their talents to meet the world's needs. With more than 75 areas of study, 20 master's programs and four doctoral degrees, there is no limit to the ways Belmont University can expand an individual's horizon. For more information visit www.belmont.edu