2006-07 season in review: Academics
As well as Derek Lokey and Frank Okam -- starting defensive tackles for the 2006 Texas Football team -- performed last fall, they recorded their most impressive numbers last spring.
The twosome posted perfect 4.0 GPAs.
"They may be the only two starting DTs in the country with 4.0s," said Brian Davis, the assistant athletics director for student services who handles the football team. He is in his 10th year at Texas and 19th with coach Mack Brown, dating back to North Carolina.
In mid-June Lokey and Okam, along with junior running back Chris Ogbonnaya, all took the LSAT exam for law school.
"They were preparing for that (the LSAT) all spring, which is fairly grueling," Davis added. "And Derek and Frank still got the 4.0s."
The American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) recognized the Longhorns for graduating at least 70 percent of its student-athletes who enrolled in 2001.
"We're really excited about how hard our guys are working in the classroom," Brown said after these kudos from the AFCA. "We feel very good about the guys succeeding in the classroom, as well as on the field."
Sixty-six members of the football team were honored for GPAs of 3.0 or better, earning the Athletics Director's Award. Seven in that number won the Provost Award with 4.0 GPAs.
"Every senior is on track to graduate in December, including players who never redshirted," said Davis, noting that Lokey, Okam, Nate Jones and Drew Kelson are graduating in three and one-half years.
"Most of the fifth-year guys and a few of the fourth-year guys will need less than 12 hours to graduate this fall," Davis continued.
Dallas Griffin, who is slated to start at center this season, owns a 4.0 GPA and already has graduated with a B.A. in business and finance. He will enroll in the McCombs Business School's MBA program this fall.
"Mack and I analyzed the depth chart," Davis said. "Nineteen of our starters have better GPAs than the guys backing them up. Most (of the starters) were over a 3.0 GPA for at least one semester last year. That continues to show us that those who handle their responsibilities off the field do the best on the field as well."
These results were emblematic of another standout academic year for all of the UT student-athletes.
Dr. Randa Ryan, the senior associate athletics director for student services whose charge is all UT student-athletes other than football, was elated with the GPAs this spring.
"The most number of teams ever that had at least a team GPA of 3.0 for the spring semester," Ryan said.
Then, she joyfully had her own roll call.
"Women's track and field, men's swimming and diving, men's tennis, women's tennis," said Ryan, barely taking a breath. "Rowing, women's swimming and diving, women's golf and soccer."
Oh, she wasn't through.
Ryan paused as she saved the best for last.
"And baseball," said Ryan, glee apparent in her tone. "For the first time ever, baseball had a 3.0 GPA for the spring semester."
That was a testament to coach Augie Garrido's commitment to academics that was evident from his first press conference of the 2007 season when Ryan was the lead-off speaker.
"That was a shock," Ryan said, laughing. "I never expected it. I am not sure the media expected it. Nobody really knew what to ask me."
The 3.0 GPA this spring for the baseball team was a validation of Garrido's decision to make certain that academics came first.
"Kyle Russell and Preston Clark," Ryan said, mentioning two of the baseball team's stars, "are great guys, hard workers. They are outstanding student-athletes. I call them that, you know. I no longer call them baseball players, but rather student-athletes who play baseball."
For Ryan, that was more than semantics.
And this was just a part of the wonderful 2006-07 academic year.
Five Longhorns student-athletes earned CoSIDA/ESPN the Magazine Academic All-America honors in 2006-07: senior Donovan Kilmartin (men's track & field, first team, petroleum engineering major); senior Katie Robinson (at-large team/women's swimming, second team, kinesiology major); senior Landra Stewardson (women's track and field, second team, kinesiology major); sophomore Bradley Suttle (baseball, second team, business major); and junior Mary Yarrison (at-large team/diving, second team, English major).
Women's tennis standout Petra Dizdar and men's track and field All-American Donovan Kilmartin were the recipients of the Texas Exes Leadership Award that is given annually to the female and male student-athletes who have displayed outstanding leadership and academic and athletic success.
Among the other individuals honored were women's swimmer Katie Robinson who had a 3.83 GPA in kinesiology and received the V.F. "Doc" Neuhaus Endowed Presidential Scholarship honor. Landra and Lige Stewardson, sisters who are women's cross country and distance performers, were recognized for having the highest overall GPA -- both were 4.0s -- throughout their careers.
Baseball's Drew Bishop, men's tennis' Miguel Reyes-Varela and men's track and field's Ryan Schroeder each posted a 4.0 GPA for at least one semester.
Ryan believes the presence of UT standouts who left school without a degree but have returned to earn their degree also is a positive message for the student-athletes in school now.
"In June, we had T.J. Ford, Royal Ivey, Brad Buckman, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kenton Paulino, Kenny Taylor, Fredie Williams and Darren Kelly in class," Ryan said. "That makes an impression on the kids that we have in summer school. They can see how important that degree is when NBA players are back working on it."
Ryan sees even better days ahead for the academic side with the completion of the new Academic Center that will be in the Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium north end. All academic activities will be under one roof in a structure that will have ample study rooms and computer equipment.
"That is going to be fantastic," she said.