Hawkeyes Earn NCAA Academic Honor

May 23, 2011

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa men’s tennis team was one of a record four Hawkeye programs honored by the NCAA for their high marks academically. The Association announced that 909 teams have earned Public Recognition Awards, based on their most recent multi-year Academic Progress Rates. These awards are given each year to teams scoring in the top 10 percent in each sport with their APRs. The UI’s men’s cross country, softball and women’s tennis teams were also among the teams singled out by the NCAA.

“We’ve received a number of academic awards throughout the years, but we’re particullarly proud of this one,” said head men’s tennis coach Steve Houghton. “Our student-athletes continue to be tremendous representatives of our program both in the classroom and on the tennis court.”

2010 marked the fourth straight year that Larry Wieczorek’s men’s cross country squad had been singled out for its academic prowess. This year’s honor also marked the third straight year that the UI’s softball team was honored for its work in the classroom.

“The same hard work our student-athletes put in on the tennis court is expected in the classroom. And, at the University of Iowa, that commitment paired with the support they receive at the Gerdin Athletics Learning Center and across campus provides each of our student-athletes a great opportunity to have success academically,” said Katie Dougherty, head coach of the UI’s women’s tennis program.

Through its innovative APR, which provides an annual scorecard of academic achievement, the NCAA tracks the classroom performance of student-athletes on every Division I sports team. Full APR scores for all teams will be released on May 24.

“A commitment to academic success is part of the culture for student-athletes at the University of Iowa. I’m excited for these teams that their commitment to competing as hard in the classroom as they do in competition has resulted in this level of achievement and recognition. They should be proud of their work. I know I am and I know fans of the Hawkeyes are,” said Gary Barta, the UI’s director of athletics.

“As Katie suggests, academic success is a team effort at the UI that begins with the student-athlete and includes their coaches and long list of staff committed to help them achieve academically. These student-athletes took full advantage of the opportunity that is available to all of our student-athletes,” said Fred Mims, the UI’s associate athletics director for student services and compliance.

NCAA President Mark Emmert said top-performing teams this year posted APR scores ranging from 977 to a perfect 1,000. The number of teams in some sports may exceed 10 percent depending on the number of perfect scores.

“Most student-athletes excel at balancing their academic and athletics commitments, yet each year there are those who perform at extraordinary levels,” Emmert said. “By achieving the highest levels of academic success as a team, these young men and women truly embody what it means to be a successful NCAA student-athlete.” By measuring eligibility and retention each semester or quarter, the APR provides a clear picture of the academic culture in each sport, Emmert said. The most recent APRs are multi-year rates based on scores from the 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10 academic years.

The 909 teams publicly recognized this year for high achievement represent 14 percent of the 6,385 eligible Division I teams. The list includes 525 women’s teams and 384 men’s or mixed squads. For the first time with its public recognition awards, the NCAA is separating the sport of football by its bowl and championship subdivisions.

A total of 239 institutions, out of 335 Division I colleges and universities, placed at least one team on the top APR list. Another 11 schools that offer athletics in more than one division, out of 52 overall within the NCAA, placed Division I teams on the list as well. Last year, 841 teams were recognized. In the six years of the NCAA’s academic reform program, 1,992 different teams have received Public Recognition Awards, representing 31 percent of eligible sports teams during that time. Of that total, 260 teams have received Public Recognition Awards each of the six years of the program.