Bowling Green, Ky. — For the fourth straight year, Western Kentucky University led the Sun Belt Conference in the total number of student-athletes honored by the league this month for their work in the classroom.
A total of 158 WKU student-athletes were named to either the SBC Commissioner’s List or Academic Honor Roll including a league-best 92 on the former, which includes individuals who maintained a grade-point average of 3.5 or better over the last two semesters.
“Four consecutive years to lead the SBC in academic honor roll recipients is truly an honor,” stated WKU Director of Athletics Dr. Wood Selig. “This award is a direct reflection on the support our academic advising staff provides daily to our 400-plus student-athletes. Even more so, this is a reflection of the outstanding students our coaches have continued to recruit over the years and the championship effort these young men and women make to achieve success in the classroom. The ‘academic championship’ is every bit, if not more, meaningful and significant than the all-sports championship we strive to win each year.”
Twelve of the school’s 18 programs that compete in the Sun Belt — football will not be eligible for the league championship until 2009 — had 10 or more individuals recognized led by women’s swimming and diving, which had 28 total honorees including 20 on the Commissioner’s List. Men’s track and field and cross country had 19 student-athletes honored, men’s swimming and diving and women’s track and field and cross country had 17 each and women’s soccer had 16 including 11 on the Commissioner’s List. Baseball (13), women’s golf (10) and softball (10) were the other programs to have 10 or more competitors recognized.
The women’s swimming and diving program also had the highest percentage of student-athletes on the roster recognized with 84.8 percent, leading a group of 11 teams that saw at least half the student-athletes on its roster post at least a 3.0 GPA in the last year. Women’s golf was at 83.3 percent, women’s soccer was at 76.2 percent and volleyball had 75 percent of their student-athletes earn academic honors from the SBC.
Actually, at the end of the 2007-08 campaign — one which saw the school collect a league-record 10 conference championships in competition — nine of WKU’s 19 sports have a team grade-point average of 3.0 or better as 224 (of 422 total, 53.1%) student-athletes reached that plateau in the spring while 188 individuals ended the year with a 3.0 or higher cumulative GPA.
And, last season WKU Athletics had 15 individuals earn academic all-district honors from the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) or coaches associations in their respective sports: Jennifer Adams (swimming), Wes Brown (swimming), Dan Cline (football), Kristin Cocchiarella (soccer), Chris Davies (soccer), Mike Duncan (cross country/track), Rachel Friedman (soccer), Meredith Goodson (soccer), Tyrell Hayden (football), Mitch Miller (swimming), Matt Payton (baseball), Justin Perry (golf), Marion Rumph (football), Bo Smith (football) and Brittany Waiz (tennis). In fact, WKU accounted for 10 of the league’s 33 individuals who were selected to CoSIDA’s all-district squads.
Louisiana-Lafayette also had 158 total student-athletes recognized, while North Texas was third among the conference’s 13 members with 156 individuals honored. Both those schools, as well as six others in the conference, sponsor football.