UCF Football, Men’s Basketball, Softball earn AAC Team Academic Excellence Awards
By Andy Seeley
UCF student-athletes are continuing to excel in the classroom, as well as in competition. Three Knights programs were honored Tuesday, July 28, as the American Athletic Conference announced its Team Academic Excellence Awards for 2014-15.
The American Athletic Conference Team Academic Excellence Awards recognize the team in each conference sport with the highest GPA for that academic year. UCF’s football, men’s basketball and softball programs each earned that distinction this year.
“I’m very proud of our student-athletes for their hard work and success in the classroom,” interim Director of Athletics George O’Leary said. “We have a culture of academic success at UCF.”
For Coach O’Leary’s football program, it marks the fourth straight season the Knights have been honored as the best academic team in their conference. The Knights have brought home the Team Academic Excellence Award twice in the two-year existence of the American Athletic Conference. In addition to the last two AAC honors, the football program also brought home the Conference USA Sport Academic Award in 2011-12 and 2012-13.
The Knights are the two-time defending American Athletic Conference champions on the gridiron to go along with the Academic Team Excellence Awards.
Head coach Renee Luers-Gillispie led her softball squad to a school-record 50 wins last season. The Knights were the American Athletic Conference Champions in both the regular season and postseason tournament and advanced to the NCAA Regional Final. The Black and Gold accomplished those feats while also fielding the strongest academic squad in the conference.
Meanwhile, men’s basketball head coach Donnie Jones leads a squad that posted a school-record Academic Progress Rate score in the most recent NCAA release, to go along with his team’s AAC Team Academic Excellence Award.
Academic accolades have become the norm at UCF.
As a department, the Knights rank No. 1 in the nation in NCAA Graduation Success Rate among all public institutions. At 95 percent in the most recent GSR report, UCF trails only private institutions Notre Dame, Stanford, Duke and Northwestern. The Knights’ GSR is 11 points above the national average. UCF’s football, volleyball, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s soccer and rowing programs are all tops among The American in Graduation Success Rate.
In the most recent NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) report, the Knights improved for the 10th consecutive year. Two Knights programs — volleyball and women’s tennis — have had multiple perfect scores in APR, while the department average of 981 is a school record. Twelve of the Knights’ 16 sports are at or above the national average for APR.