Three NSU sports earn NCAA public recognition for outstanding academic performance

Three Northwestern State sports – men’s and women’s cross country, and women’s tennis – have earned public recognition from the NCAA for recording four consecutive years of perfect scores in the Academic Progress Rate report.

It’s the first time each of the sports at NSU have been spotlighted by the NCAA, which will release the full version of its annual APR study next Wednesday. Six years ago was the last time that a Northwestern State team earned such elite recognition for remarkable work advancing student-athletes toward graduation.

The Demon basketball program earned NCAA Public Recognition for ranking in the nation’s top 10 percent in APR results in 2004-05, and 2012-13. Lady Demon soccer received the honor in 2005-06.

“The fact that all NSU teams continue to be, and always have been, above the NCAA APR benchmark is in and of itself commendable,” said veteran athletics director Greg Burke, who serves on the NCAA’s Committee on Academics, “but for these three sports to be ranked among the very best in the country academically is remarkable. Congratulations are in order to the student-athletes and coaches for this accomplishment, which continues to reinforce one of the NSU Athletic Department’s three core values, ‘Academic Achievement.’ ”

Each year, the NCAA honors selected Division I sports teams with public recognition for outstanding multiyear NCAA APR results. It is intended to highlight programs that demonstrate remarkable commitment to academic progress and retention of student-athletes by achieving the top APRs within their respective sports.

The APR provides a real-time look at a team’s academic success each semester by tracking the progress of each student-athlete on scholarship. The APR accounts for eligibility, retention and graduation and provides a measure of each Division I team’s performance compared to peers.

NSU’s head coaches in the recognized sports were beaming at the news, released Wednesday by the NCAA.

“We are certainly proud of being part of this achievement in women’s tennis,” said head coach Patric DuBois. “Our girls always work hard on their academics and it shows each year. This achievement should certainly be shared by our entire athletic academic support system, the athletic department and administration, and NSU faculty who all do a tremendous job for all of our students.”

Like the Lady Demon tennis program, under the guidance of cross country coach Chris Sauer, NSU’s distance runners have developed a culture of academic success which ranks at the top of all teams in the nation.

“It shows the hard work that goes into the books by these young men and women,” said head track and field coach Mike Heimerman, who competed for the Demons two decades ago. “Coach Sauer does a great job stressing the importance of the classroom. Athletics usually ends for 99% of us after college so education is very important in the future success of these young men and women. This is a tremendous affirmation that what we’re doing is working.”

The NCAA will release its complete APR report next Wednesday.