Texas coach Rick Barnes stood inside the Erwin Center holding a small silver trophy awarded to the men’s basketball program. And frankly, he couldn’t believe it.
His Longhorns tied the baseball team for the highest cumulative GPA during the fall semester. Both high-profile programs put up a 3.13 in the classroom. On the women’s side, the golf team had the highest GPA at 3.37.
“These guys told me last year they were going to get this, and I’m impressed. They did it,” Barnes said with an ear-to-ear grin.
Sophomore guard Javan Felix said: “It shows that we’re not just athletes. We take our academics seriously, and that’s something we take pride in and it shows in our team GPA.”
Those three sports were among many honored at the athletic department’s annual academic banquet on Wednesday. All together, 71 Texas athletes were recognized for getting all A’s in either the spring or fall semester in 2013. The department had a 3.02 cumulative GPA.
“I said to (Jordan) Hicks and (Demarco) Cobbs, where’s football?,” coach Charlie Strong said. “If anything, with that measuring stick, there’s no reason for us to not work hard in the classroom and become a team with a high GPA. If we work hard enough, it can happen.”
Several athletes praised Dr. Randa Ryan, who oversees the athletic department’s academic division, for her help. Even those who don’t have an obvious rooting interest in Texas sports were impressed with the all the accolades.
“It’s an affirmation of things being done right,” said LSU football coach Les Miles, whose daughter is a freshman on the Texas swim team. “I think the message certainly is that to compete not only in the pool but in the classroom, and I think she’s enjoying that very much.”
So what’s it like being a athlete at Texas? Better let pitcher John Curtiss from Southlake explain.
“The best way of describing it is on a daily basis, as a student-athlete at the university of Texas, you’re rarely not tired,” Curtiss said. “Double-negative aside, you go to class, you are exhausted but you have to pay attention. You go to practice, you are tired from class but you have to focus through practice. You go home, it’s 8 p.m., you just got something to eat and you need to study for the next day. It just goes on and on and on.
“Then you get to the season, you’re adding travel weeks on top of that,” Curtiss added. “It’s really just a tremendous balancing effort that Dr. Randa Ryan does making sure that we stay on top of taking the most out of every day and allocating our hours the best way we can.”
The athletic department announced the following athletes were named academic MVPs for the year. All information listed below comes from a university news release:
Women’s Basketball: Krystle Henderson
Women’s Cross Country: Megan Siebert
Women’s Track: Briana Nelson
Women’s Field: Shanay Briscoe
Women’s Golf: Bertine Strauss
Rowing: Carmen Hargis-Villanueva
Soccer: Brenda Saucedo
Softball: Mandy Ogle
Women’s Swimming: Ellen Lobb
Women’s Diving: Maren Taylor
Women’s Tennis: Lina Padegimaite
Volleyball: Tiffany Baker
Baseball: John Curtiss
Men’s Basketball: Brandon Allums
Men’s Cross Country: Austin Roth
Men’s Track: John McNamara
Men’s Field: Ryan Crouser
Football: Case McCoy
Men’s Golf: Toni Hakula
Men’s Swimming: Reid Walker
Men’s Diving: Will McCraney
Men’s Tennis: Sudanwa Sitaram
The following awards were presented for outstanding academic achievement:
Lorene L. Rogers Scholar-Athlete Award (presented to graduating male and female student-athletes who have the highest overall GPA. Established in honor of former University President Dr. Lorene Rogers): John Curtiss (Baseball), Megan Siebert (Women’s Track and Field)
Men’s Athletic Council Academic Achievement Award (recognizes male student-athlete who, through perseverance, determination and motivation, has embraced the opportunity to earn a degree from Texas. This student-athlete has served as a leader and influential role model to other student-athletes and to the community): Jacob Felts (Baseball), Demarco Cobbs (Football)
Janet Hauber Academic Excellence Award (award given to a deserving female student-athlete who excels in the sciences. Named for renowned engineer and scientist, Dr. Janet Hauber, an avid supporter of Women’s Athletics): GiGi Mazionyte (Women’s Basketball)
Academic Excellence & Spirit Award (given to student-athlete who stands out as achieving at very highest levels athletically and academically): Briana Nelson (Women’s Track and Field), Parker French (Baseball), Toni Hakula (Men’s Golf)
V.F. “Doc” Neuhaus Award (highest honor in Women’s Athletics and given to a female student-athlete who has excelled in the classroom and in her sport): Shanay Briscoe (Women’s Track and Field)
Big 12 Community Champions (conference award acknowledges top student-athletes who have distinguished themselves through community involvement and volunteer efforts): Brady Sanders (Women’s Basketball), Nathan Thornhill (Baseball), Samantha Tucker (Women’s Swimming and Diving)
Big 12 Scholar-Athlete Awards (honors two senior student-athletes exhibiting the greatest combination of performance and achievement in sport, scholarship and leadership): Ryan Crouser (Men’s Track and Field), Sarah Palmer (Volleyball)
Academic Leadership Award (recognizes a student-athlete in Men’s and Women’s Athletics who embodies the attributes that are valued in leadership – including academic excellence, unselfish team play, desire to excel, service to the community and respected leadership): Jordan Hicks (Football), Marielle Hall (Women’s Track and Field)
Dorothy Smith Community Service Award (named in honor of Dorothy Smith, a passionate supporter of community involvement and athletics, the award recognizes student-athletes who have devoted their time and energy to the UT campus and Austin community): Kip Darmody (Men’s Swimming and Diving), Haley Eckerman (Volleyball)
Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Leadership Award (presented to students who have distinguished themselves through their efforts in the community, on campus and as leaders): Julie Arnold (Soccer), Grant Martin (Baseball), Morgan Snow (Women’s Track and Field)
Highest Team GPA Award (each fall and spring, the Athletics Department recognizes the men’s and women’s teams with the highest semester GPA)
Spring 2013: Soccer, Baseball, Men’s Tennis
Fall 2013: Women’s Golf, Baseball, Men’s Basketball
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