Give these Longhorns an A+ in the classroom
AUSTIN, Texas -- When it comes to giving out final grades to the 2007-08 University of Texas student-athletes for their performance in the classroom, only one can do justice.
With Wednesdayís announcement that senior distance specialist Temeka Kincy has earned a spot on the ESPN The Magazine womenís track & field/cross country Academic All-America second team, Texas officially concludes the 2007-08 academic year with an eye-opening 10 Academic All-Americans, tops in the nation among all University Division programs. UTís total of 10 honorees was two more than both North Dakota State and Notre Dame (eight).
In addition, the 10 selections are a school single-season record for most Academic All-Americans, topping the previous mark of five set in 1999-2000, 2003-04 and 2006-07.
"These achievements underscore what weíve been saying. At The University of Texas, we pursue excellence in academics and athletics," said Texas Womenís Athletics Director Chris Plonsky. "These student-athletes are leaders on their respective teams and leaders on campus. With the many hours they expend on training and studying, this is a remarkable achievement."
"Ours is a university that demands excellence in the classroom as well as in the athletic arena, and these student-athletes have achieved the highest recognition possible as first-team Academic All-Americans," said UT Menís Athletics Director DeLoss Dodds. "Iím proud of our students, our coaches, our student services staff and our media relations staff for the job they have done."
Texas produced a total of four first-team Academic All-Americans in 2007-08, including a pair from its football program in seniors Dallas Griffin and Derek Lokey. In addition, Griffin earned the Draddy Trophy, the "Academic Heisman" which recognizes the top individual in the nation for combined academic success, football performance and exemplary community leadership.
"Our football student-athletes continue to perform exceptionally well in the classroom, with that effort most visible in Dallas Griffinís Draddy Trophy," said Brian Davis, UT Associate AD/Student-Athlete Services. "More and more of our guys are putting themselves in position to graduate before their eligibility is up, or at least graduate in December following their last year of eligibility. Rashad Bobino and Chris Ogbonnaya graduated this spring, and all of our current fifth-year seniors are on pace to graduate this December.
"We consistently see the balance between academics and athletics," Davis added. "Most of our top players also perform well in the classroom. I canít say which influences the other, but I do know that at The University of Texas, those football student-athletes who perform well on the field are most often those who perform well in the classroom."
Joining Griffin and Lokey as first-team Academic All-Americans were basketballís D.J. Augustin and track and fieldís Donovan Kilmartin. Augustin became just the 15th individual in NCAA Division I menís basketball history to earn both consensus first-team All-America accolades and first-team Academic All-America honors in the same season. Kilmartin was named the Academic All-American of the Year for the sport of menís track and field/cross country.
"I think some people lose sight of just how difficult it is to earn Academic All-America honors," said Dr. Randa Ryan, UT Senior Associate AD/Student-Athlete Services. "It is certainly comparable to being an All-American sport-wise in how challenging and competitive it is."
The Longhorns had a trio of second-team Academic All-Americans in Kincy, Kathryn Kelly (womenís at-large category, womenís diving) and Matt McGinnis (menís at-large category, menís swimming). In addition, Kelsey Carpenter (womenís soccer), Michelle Moriarty (womenís volleyball) and Mary Yarrison (womenís at-large category, womenís diving) were named third-team Academic All-Americans.
While these individual accomplishments are worth saluting, it is the depth of the academic success by this yearís group of student-athletes that deserves the most praise.
During the fall 2007 semester, a total of 258 student-athletes earned at least a 3.0 grade point average (4.0 scale). Going further, 103 student-athletes achieved at least a 3.5 grade point average, including 34 individuals who posted a perfect 4.0 GPA.
Although it may be hard to believe, these numbers actually saw improvement during the recent spring 2008 semester. A total of 270 student-athletes, 58 percent of all student-athletes at UT, recorded at least a 3.0 GPA. Additionally, 133 student-athletes earned at least a 3.5 GPA, including 47 individuals who posted a perfect 4.0 GPA.
To further show the across-the-board nature of UTís success, consider these facts. Sixteen of Texasí 20 intercollegiate athletics teams recorded at least a 3.0 team grade point average in the spring 2008 semester. The Longhorns also produced 119 student-athletes who earned a spot on their respective sportís Academic All-Big 12 team.
"The consistency of teams performing at a 3.0 level or better has been very rewarding," Ryan said. "To see 47 students earn a 4.0 in the spring, when that is the time when the majority of our sports are competing, is a very strong statement of how they are keeping it going in the classroom in addition to performing so well in their respective sports."