Tech student-athletes score second highest semester GPA

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Make it six of the last seven semesters that Tennessee Tech’s student-athletes have a combined overall grade point average of 3.0 or higher. For the recently completed 2010 Fall semester, Golden Eagle student-athletes managed a combined 3.17 GPA, the second highest in school history behind the 3.2 average last Spring.

Just as impressive, 11 of Tech’s 14 teams recorded team GPAs of 3.0 or higher with five squads at or above the 3.50 mark.

The softball team led the way at 3.56, the sixth time in seven semesters that coach Tory Acheson’s squad was at the top of the chart. The soccer team, under first-year coach Daniel Brizard was a close second with a 3.53 GPA. Three women’s teams coached by Tony Cox – cross country, indoor track & field and outdoor track & field – all boasted a 3.50 GPA.

The combined Fall semester GPA of 3.17 for all student-athletes in Tech’s 14 intercollegiate sports was the second-highest semester GPA since the Athletics department began tracking academic records in 1971.

“Success in their academic pursuits is equally as important to our student-athletes as their efforts in trying to become the best athletes they can be,” said Mark Wilson, TTU Director of Athletics.  “We see it in their work ethic in competition as well as in the classroom.          

“These results are a testament to their commitment, and also an indication of the dedication of our coaching staff and the programs and personnel we have working with the student-athletes to ensure academic success.”

Tech’s eight highest semester GPAs have all come in the past five years. Following the record combined GPA of 3.20 in Spring 2010, Tech’s next seven best semester marks are 3.17 (Fall 2010), 3.11 (Fall 2009), 3.04 (Fall 2008), 3.03 (Fall 2007), 3.02 (Fall 2006), 3.01 (Spring 2009), and 3.0 (Spring 2008).

“This outcome reflects the continued progress that our student-athletes are making, and it comes from the outstanding support and teamwork of faculty, support and clerical staff, Athletic personnel and the student-athletes themselves,” said Dr. Lance Jasitt, assistant athletic director for academics and student welfare.  “It is the result of a total team effort.”

For softball, each year’s team has a lofty academic tradition to uphold.

“Obviously we are very proud of the success our softball student-athletes are having in the classroom,” Acheson said, “and there are several factors contributing to our strong run.

“Some of the credit goes to Lance Jasitt and his staff for the outstanding support our kids get. I also want to single out Kristina Hortert, who has been working with our kids the last couple of years on specific things such as study skills and tutoring,” Acheson said. “She has been instrumental.”

Ultimately, he said it’s the players who get the job done.

“They take the ‘student’ part of student-athlete seriously,” he said. “We have an outstanding tradition and they look at it as something they want to carry forward. They don’t want to drop the ball and be the weak link. They want to continue to achieve at the highest possible level.”

Cox gives credit to the quality of student-athletes attending the University.

“This kind of overall success by our student-athletes begins with the quality of young men and women that each team recruits,” Cox said. “Every single student-athlete on every single team represents the university, both in competition and in the classroom, and we are extremely proud of how hard they work toward success in both areas.”

In addition to the five teams that reached the 3.50 plateau, Tech teams with combined 3.0 GPAs or higher included men’s tennis (3.32), women’s golf (3.22), volleyball (3.07), women’s basketball (3.06), men’s golf (3.05) and baseball (3.04).

For coach Matt Bragga’s baseball team, punching through the 3.0 barrier is the culmination of a long, steady climb that saw his Golden Eagles narrowly miss that mark in recent semesters. The team has set new highs for the baseball program every semester in each of the past four years.

“We’ve set program records, but the 3.0 mark has eluded us,” Bragga said. “We have been so close, so it was nice to break that barrier. Our team goal is to be above the 3.0 mark again this spring and set another GPA record for TTU baseball.

“Our guys are working hard on and off the field, and will continue to do so,” he added. “We are blessed to have so many great young men on this team.”

Finishing just below the 3.0 mark were men’s basketball (2.79), men’s cross country (2.72) and football (2.56). The men’s basketball and football team marks were both the second-highest GPAs in program history.