UCCS athletics honored for academic excellence with award
Many athletic programs push their athletes to succeed both academically and in sport, and UCCS has been honored for doing just that.
Of the total 300 NCAA Division II affiliated institutions, UCCS has been named one of only 24 to receive the Division II President's Award for Academic Excellence.
UCCS was one of just four public schools (Truman State, UC San Diego and Florida Tech) to receive the award and one of only two universities in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference to meet the awards' criteria, along with Regis University.
The Division II Academic Requirements Committee established the President's Award to recognize athletic programs that have consistently displayed academic success. 2012 marks the inaugural year the award has been given.
In order to be eligible for the President's Award, a university's athletic program must have an academic success rate (ASR) of 90 percent over a consecutive four-year period.
At UCCS, 91 percent of student athletes have graduated over the past four years - well above the national average, which stands at 72 percent.
While the ASR is considered a comprehensive way of measuring academic success, it does not take into consideration incoming transfers or athletes who are not receiving financial aid. Outgoing transfer students are counted as not graduating.
UCCS Athletic Director Steve Kirkham was pleased with the reception of the President's Award, citing it as proof of UCCS student athletes' success in the classroom, despite the difficulties of juggling coursework and sports-related obligations such as practice and games.
"Academics come first in our athletic programs," said Kirkham. "That's what our faculty likes to see."
The President's Award reflects the purpose of Division II athletics. While athletics play a large part in a student athlete's life, seldom does it become a livelihood. The main purpose of going to college is to get a higher education.
"It's very rare to see a Division II athlete go on to become a professional in their sport. Division II is about going and doing something you love for four more years and maybe getting a scholarship to do it," Kirkham said.
For UCCS, being honored with the President's Award is a sign that not only are the school's athletes on the right track but also the university as a whole.
To receive an award, less than 8 percent of the schools in Division II qualified for took a great deal of effort.
"Doing well in academics is not something that occurs by chance," added Kirkham. "Whatever happens [academically] has to be because you believe in something."
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