Belmont, Vanderbilt, Lipscomb all have teams recognized for sustained graduation success

Wednesday, April 22, 2009 at 6:02pm

Eight teams from Nashville universities – half of them from Belmont – earned public recognition from the NCAA on Wednesday for sustained success in graduating athletes.

The men’s basketball, soccer and baseball teams as well as the women’s golf team at Belmont were acknowledged for multi-year Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores in the top 10 percent.

Vanderbilt had three programs recognized (baseball, men’s cross country and women’s swimming), and Lipscomb’s women’s basketball team also made the grade.

According to the NCAA, there are 381 schools with at least one Division I program. Of those, 211 had at least one team make the list. A total of 767 Division I teams were recognized (an increase of 55 over the previous year).

Belmont was one of 57 institutions with at least four programs acknowledged.

“The far-reaching academic success of our Belmont athletic program is one of our greatest sources of pride,” Belmont Director of Athletics Mike Strickland said in a release from the university. “This success speaks volumes to the dedication of our student-athletes, coaches, and academic support staff.”

Belmont was one of 31 men’s basketball programs recognized out of 344, which compete.

According to the university, coach Rick Byrd’s team and national champion North Carolina are the only two in the sport to rank among the top 10 percent in APR, win at least 20 games and participate in a postseason tournament each of the last four years.

Belmont student-athletes have produced a combined grade-point average of better than 3.0 for 22 consecutive semesters, most recently a 3.18 in the fall of 2008.

“Our teams stand alongside ones from the most revered academic institutions in America,” university president Bob Fisher said. “The credit goes to our student-athletes, coaches, and athletics' staff.”

In other academic news, the Southeastern Conference announced its 2008-09 Winter Academic Honor Roll, which consists of student-athletes who maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher in addition to other criteria.

A total of 29 VU student-athletes in four sports earned that recognition.