Cougars Receive National Academic Award

The 2004 Women's Volleyball team received national recognition for their success in the classroom during the 2004 season. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

COLORADO SPRINGS -- The American Volleyball Coaches Association has announced that BYU is one of 45 NCAA Division I volleyball programs that have achieved the Game Plan/AVCA Team Academic Award for the 2004-2005 season. The award, initiated in the 1992-93 academic year, honors college and high school teams that displayed excellence in the classroom by maintaining at least a 3.30 cumulative team grade-point average on a 4.0 scale and a 4.10 cumulative team GPA on a 5.0 scale during the school year. The Cougars' hard work in the classroom earned them a 3.36 cumulative GPA for the season. A total of 274 schools received the honor, marking the second most in the program's history only to the 2003-2004 academic year when 305 schools achieved the award.

"This award acknowledges the dedication and commitment of our student-athletes to their academic pursuits," said BYU Head Coach Jason Watson. "I am as proud of the work we do in the classroom as I am of the work that goes on in the gym."

Recipients of the award range from NCAA Division I institutions to high school girls' and boys' teams. The college ranks produced 148 programs that met the requirements for the award. NCAA Division I schools earned the mark at 45 schools and fell two short of the overall record of 47 Division I schools receiving the distinction in 2001-2002. NCAA Division II (26) and NCAA Division III (43) charted the second-highest numbers in program history.

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) had 23 of its members achieve the honor this year, while the two-year college category fell one shy of its most ever with eight recipients. NCCAA (National Collegiate Christian Athletic Association) had a record two schools qualify for the award, while NCAA men's programs produced its second all-time recipient of the award. A total of 126 high school boys and girls programs earned the award in 2004-2005.

"The Game Plan/AVCA Team Academic Award embodies the true meaning of the student-athlete concept, and the AVCA is honored to recognize these schools for excellence in the classroom," Katherine McConnell, AVCA executive director said. "We congratulate the student-athletes, as well as the coaches and school administrations, for maintaining balance between academics and athletics."

A total of 801 different schools have won the award in the program's 13-year history. Two institutions have earned it every year in Jonesboro High School (Jonesboro, Ark.) and Ross S. Sterling High School (Baytown, Texas).

University of Eastern Washington and Indiana State University both earned the honor for the seventh straight year, the longest active streak in NCAA Division I. Drury University, a Division II school, won the award for the ninth consecutive season. Ohio Northern University achieved its sixth consecutive inclusion on the Game Plan/AVCA Team Academic Award list. Saint Benedict (Minn.) collected its second consecutive award and its NCAA Division III leading ninth overall. College of St. Mary (Neb.) earned the prestigious honor for the 11th consecutive season, the longest and most of any NAIA program. Phoenix College (Ariz.) pulled in its sixth straight award, the longest active streak among two-year colleges.

Vassar College became the first NCAA Division III men's volleyball program to earn the award, and just the second overall collegiate men's program.

Four high school programs reached Game Plan/AVCA Team Academic Award status on both the girls and boys volleyball teams. Pine Crest School (Fla.), Thomas McKean High School (Del.), Wheaton Warrenville South (Ill.) and Whitehall High School (Pa.) turned in the double honor.

Each school will receive a plaque, and each player a certificate commemorating the designation.

Additional Game Plan/AVCA Team Academic Award Facts

Year Recipients

2004-05 274 (second most in program history)

2003-04 304 (a 48.3 percent increase over 2002-03)

2002-03 205

2001-02 178

2000-01 130

1999-2000 140

1998-99 149

1997-98 132

1996-97 134

1995-96 116

1994-95 83

1993-94 98

1992-93 62

Breakdown by classification for 2004-2005

NCAA DI Women: 45; NCAA Men: 1; NCAA DII Women: 26; NCAA DIII Women: 43; NAIA Women: 23; NCCAA Women: 2; Two-Year College Women: 8; High School Girls: 119; High School Boys: 7.

First-time winners in 2004-05

DI Women: 13 of 46; DII Women: 3 of 31; DIII Women: 11 of 43; DIII Men: 1 of 1; NAIA: 7 of 23; TYC: 1 of 8; HS Girls: 31 of 119; HS Boys: 4 of 7

History, Awards Won and Streaks

In its 13-year history, the Game Plan/AVCA Team Academic Award has been earned by: 121 DI programs (men and women); 66 DII schools; 102 DIII schools; 64 NAIA schools; 2 NCCAA schools; 21 two-year colleges; and approximately 425 high school girls and boys teams.

Two teams have earned the academic award each of the 13 years of its existence: Jonesboro High School (Jonesboro, Ark.) and Ross S. Sterling High School (Baytown, Texas). Immaculate Conception High School (Elmhurst, Ill.) has earned the award 12 times in 13 years. Augustana College (S.D.), College of St. Mary (Neb.), Batavia High School (Ill.), Fergus High School (Mont.), Marysville High School (Mich.), Stillwater Area High School (Minn.) and Trinity Preparatory School (Fla.) have collected the award 11 of 13 seasons.

Schools with 10 awards to their credit are: Morehead State University, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Savannah College of Art and Design, Garden Spot High School (Pa.) and Red Land High School (Pa.).

Two-year colleges are topped by Southwestern Community College (Creston, Iowa) having earned eight designations. Wheeling High School Boys (Wheeling, Ill.) has won the most awards with nine.

Awards by State

This year schools from 39 states and Korea (2) won the award. Historically, 49 states, the District of Columbia and two countries outside the United States (Canada and Korea) have been represented.

Eleven states placed 10 or more institutions on the list: Pennsylvania 18; Illinois 16; Wisconsin 15; Ohio 14; Texas 14; Minnesota 12; New York 12; Indiana 11; Nebraska 11; Kansas 10; and Missouri 10.

NCAA Division I (45), State, Head Coach

Appalachian State University, N.C., Chad Callihan

Arkansas State University, Ark., Craig Cummings

Auburn University, Ala., Laura Farina

Belmont University, Tenn., Deane Webb

Birmingham-Southern College, Ala., Tonya Charland

Bowling Green State University, Ohio, Denise Van De Walle

Bradley University, Ill., Scott Luster

BYU, Utah, Karen Lamb

Cleveland State University, Ohio, Chuck Voss

College of Charleston, S.C., Sherry Dunbar

Creighton University, Neb., Kirsten Bernthal Booth

Duke University, N.C., Jolene Nagel

Duquesne University, Pa., Steve Opperman

Eastern Michigan University, Mich., Kim Berrington

Eastern Washington University, Wash., Wade Benson

Gardner-Webb University, N.C., Cole Tallman

Indiana University, Ind., Katie Weismiller

Indiana State University, Ind., Julie Krofcheck

Jacksonville State University, Ala., Rick Nold

Kansas State University, Kan., Suzie Fritz

Kent State University, Ohio, Mora Kanim

McNeese State University, La., Dale Starr

Ohio University, Ohio, Geoff Carlston

Samford University, Ala., Michelle Durban

Seton Hall University, N.J., Maureen Rafferty-Del Rossi

Southeast Missouri State University, Mo., Renata Nowacki

Southwest Missouri State University, Mo., Melissa Stokes

Troy University, Ala., Patrick Nicholas

United States Military Academy, N.Y., Glen Conley

University of Akron, Ohio, Mike Sweitzer

University of Cincinnati, Ohio, Reed Sunahara

University of Denver, Colo., Beth Kuwata

University of Evansville, Ind., Mike Swan

University of Illinois, Ill., Don Hardin

University of Kentucky, Ky., Jona Braden/Craig Skinner (spring)

The University of Memphis, Tenn., Carrie Yerty

University of Notre Dame, Ind., Debbie Brown

University of Oregon, Ore., Jim Moore

University of Southern Mississippi, Miss., Ricci Luyties

University of Toledo, Ohio, Kent Miller

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Wis., Kathy Litzau

Valparaiso University, Ind., Carin Avery

Villanova University, Pa., Gilad Doron

Weber State University, Utah, Al Givens

Wichita State University, Kan., Chris Lamb