Both Memphis Soccer Programs Earn NSCAA Team Academic Award
Dec. 12, 2007
MEMPHIS - Both the University of Memphis men's and women's soccer programs earned the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) College Team Academic Award for the 2006-07 academic year.
Memphis is one of 73 schools and one of only two programs in Conference USA with both its men's and women's teams recognized. Marshall University is the other school to have both teams reach the accomplishment. A total of 411 soccer teams (113 men, 298 women) posted a team grade point average of 3.0 or higher to qualify for the recognition.
The Memphis men's team earns the award for the first time in the program's history, posting a 3.12 team GPA. Marshall is the only other league school to be honored on the men's side.
"We're really pleased with the program and feel we're moving in the right direction athletically," said Memphis men's soccer head coach Richie Grant. "But it's very comforting to know that we're doing the right things in the classroom as well. Obviously, the credit for this award goes to our student athletes."
The Lady Tigers are honored for the third time in five years and posted a 3.19 GPA. The team also earned the award in 2004 and 2003. Five C-USA women's teams were recognized with UAB, East Carolina, Marshall and Tulsa also being honored. The Lady Tigers also had junior Kate Murphy become this year the school's first female CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America first team selection.
"When the players get here, they quickly learn that being a student athlete is much more than just playing the sport, but a commitment to getting their degree and trying the best that they can in everything they do, on and off the field," said women's assistant coach Jodi Grant. "We want them to continue to set their academic standards high and it helps when there's a tradition that gets passed on to each incoming class from us as coaches but also from the players."
The university's Center for Athletic Academic Services has diligently worked to provide support services to ensure that U of M student-athletes succeed in the classroom and obtain undergraduate degrees. Since 1999, the men's soccer program has graduated 31 of 33 seniors, while 34 of 36 women's soccer seniors have earned their diploma. The men's team has posted its two highest ever GPAs the last two semesters, and the women's team has 15 straight semesters with a 3.0 GPA or higher.
The CAAS is led by Dr. Joe Luckey who took over the center in March 2002. Carol Varano works specifically with the men's soccer team, while Bridget VanLandeghem handles the women's program.
"As a coaching staff, we're very pleased with the job Carol and Bridget are doing with our athletes," Grant said. "They've been great additions to our teams. Joe's academic center has been a real boost for our programs."