STORY BY COLTON WARREN
Drake University athletics received another prestigious honor, this time for submitting the highest cumulative grade point average in the Missouri Valley Conference.
The 2013-2014 MVC Academic Excellence Award is given to the school with the highest GPA of all their sports combined.
Drake’s total was a 3.305. Only football and rowing do not compete in the MVC.
Athletic Director Sandy Hatfield Clubb said she believes this success starts from the beginning of an athlete’s career at Drake.
“I think it really is a demonstration that the promise we give our student-athletes is very real,” Hatfield Clubb said. “And that is, at Drake University you can major in any major on this campus and you can excel as a student and excel as an athlete.”
Student-athlete success, Hatfield Clubb said, was a cumaltive effort, starting at the top of each team.
“It certainly starts with our coaches and the emphasis they place on excellence in the classroom,” Hatfield Clubb said.
Of course, she also added praise for the work the students do.
“We have phenomenal young people that choose Drake. So that’s a good starting place,” Hatfield Clubb said. “We already have people who are interested in Drake because they want to excel in the classroom.”
Drake athletics requires any athlete to complete a required amount of study hours per week in their first semester on campus. After the first semester, Hatfield Clubb said coaches and students are responsible for study hours and keeping up in the classroom.
Hatfield Clubb praised the athlete’s commitment to their academics shown by all athletes, especially while on the road.
“There’s a real culture when they travel, that they do a great job of staying on top of academics,” Hatfield Clubb said.
Hatifeld Clubb’s praise didn’t stop at the athletic department. She said the faculty’s willingness to assist the athletes has a lot to do with the continued academic success.
Five Bulldogs received a national honor, as well. The Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-America honor considers all Division I athletics and was awarded to track and field’s Andy Curtis, Steven Jordan and Brogan Austin, as well as men’s tennis’ Alen Salabasic and men’s soccer’s Nick Marshall.
For the 2013-2014 seasons, more than 90 percent of Drake’s teams competing in the MVC finished with a 3.1 GPA or higher, with more than 70 percent of the athletes turning in a 3.0 or better, individually.
Eight percent of Drake’s student-athletes maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA.
“Props to those young people who are just taking it to the next level academically,” Hatfield Clubb said.
Several teams received national recognition for the year.
The women’s basketball team finished with an MVC-best 3.571 GPA, placing them sixth in the country on the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Academic Top-25 Team Honor Role.
For men’s soccer, Nick Marshall, who graduated in May, was selected to the first team 2013 Capital One Academic All-America Division I men’s soccer’s team, making him just the third Bulldog to garner first-team accolades nationally. He and Thomas Schermoly were selected to the first team MVC Scholar-Athlete team.
For women’s soccer, sophomore Emma Winstead earned the same MVC academic honor as Marshall and Schermoly.
Both soccer teams finished with a 3.3 GPA or higher.
The Drake University Provost Award was given to the women’s cross country team after they submitted the 14th-best team GPA in the nation, a 3.66 cumulative. The Provost Award is given to the program that records the highest team GPA at Drake.
Hatfield Clubb attributed total success to the student-athletes’ commitment to the “Bulldog Way.”
“Every one of our student athletes are committed to the ‘Bulldog Way’,” Hatfield Clubb said. “We want what we call comprehensive excellence.
“That’s excellence in academics, excellence in athletics and excellence outside, so in service and your social life,” Hatfield Clubb said.
Hatfield Clubb expressed excitement for Drake’s many student-athletes, and recognized the tough task it is to maintain such excellence in all aspects.
“This is one of the demonstrations of yeah, our young people being really committed to out working and out hustling our opponents,” Clubb said.