The JSU women’s tennis team was among 954 Division I sports programs receiving Public Recognition from the governing body Tuesday for falling within the top 10 percent of Academic Progress Rates in its sport. It was one of 18 teams from the Ohio Valley Conference — and only one from JSU — to be so recognized.
“We stress academics as well as athletics and talk all the time about keeping sharp in the classroom,” JSU tennis coach Steve Bailey said. “That team not only won the conference but excelled in the classroom. If you excel in sports and put effort in it, you’ll excel in the classroom. We stay on them about what they’re supposed to do. We had a great GPA this year.”
APR is described as a real-time look at a team’s academic success each semester or quarter, taking into account eligibility, retention and graduation. This year’s report is based on the last four academic years ending with 2010-11.
The 2010-11 JSU women’s tennis team, whose entire lineup was comprised of girls from Brazil, won the OVC championship and played in the NCAA Regional at Georgia Tech.
“They are great girls, just exceptional kids and work hard off and on the court,” athletics director Warren Koegel said. “A lot of our athletes are that way. We have a number of them over 3.0, 3.5 and 4.0 from semester to semester.
“Academics are extremely important. I’ve said many times we’re here to (strive for) academic excellence, to prepare people (for their future). I feel good about some of the directions we have taken as a university. I think we’re making strides in all those areas.”
As for the results of JSU’s other sports, they won’t be known until the complete APR report, including penalties, is made public Tuesday.
The JSU football and men’s basketball team have been under the academic gun in the past, but last year was the first time since the APR initiative began seven years ago no JSU team was under sanction or restriction. The football team was banned from post-season play in 2009 and the basketball team faced a similar sanction last year before receiving a waiver.
JSU officials have been providing the NCAA with information throughout the process. Koegel told The Star earlier this year the Gamecocks would be subject to the waiver process until its bad scores come off the ledger.
The football program has posted multi-year averages above 900 each of the last two years, including a single-year high 970 in the year of the ban. The basketball team hasn’t posted a multi-year score above 900 yet, but has been above that benchmark each of the last three individual years.
Koegel reserved commenting on this year’s results until the report is released.
“The NCAA is very clear on this: They want to release it to the public, all at the same time; I adhere to that,” he said. “I’ll gladly talk about it when it becomes public.
“Our goal here is to do everything and improve on everything we can to do things and win championships and produce young people going out in the world with college degrees. That’s what this is all about.”
Al Muskewitz covers Jacksonville State sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3577.