When it comes to giving out final grades to the 2007-08 University of Texas at Austin student-athletes for their performance in the classroom, only one can do justice.
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. The University of Texas at Austin’s 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 we’ve been saying. At The University of Texas at Austin, we pursue excellence in academics and athletics,” said Women’s 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 Men’s Athletics Director DeLoss Dodds. “I’m proud of our students, our coaches, our student services staff and our media relations staff for the job they have done.”
Texas produced 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 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 Griffin’s Draddy Trophy,” said Brian Davis, associate athletics director of 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. Football players 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 can’t say which influences the other, but I do know that at The University of Texas at Austin 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 basketball’s D.J. Augustin and track and field’s Donovan Kilmartin. Augustin became the 15th individual in NCAA Division I men’s 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 men’s 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, senior associate athletics director of 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 Temeka Kincy (women’s track and field/cross country), Kathryn Kelly (women’s diving) and Matt McGinnis (men’s swimming). In addition, Kelsey Carpenter (women’s soccer), Michelle Moriarty (women’s volleyball) and Mary Yarrison (women’s 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 year’s group of student-athletes that deserves the most praise.
During the fall 2007 semester, 258 student-athletes earned at least a 3.0 grade-point average (GPA) (4.0 scale). Going further, 103 student-athletes achieved at least a 3.5 GPA, including 34 individuals who posted a perfect 4.0 GPA.
These numbers saw improvement during the spring 2008 semester. A total of 270 student-athletes, 58 percent of all student-athletes at the university, recorded at least a 3.0 GPA. Also, 133 student-athletes earned at least a 3.5 GPA, including 47 individuals who posted a perfect 4.0 GPA.
Sixteen of Texas’ 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 sports’ 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.”