July 28, 2014
IRVING, Texas - Three Rice University teams were honored by Conference USA with Sport Academic Awards, the league office announced on Monday. Rice's men's basketball, men's golf and women's track and field programs boasted the highest team grade point averages in the conference in their respective sports in 2013-14.
The Sport Academic Award is given to the team in each conference-sponsored sport with the highest GPA for the academic year. Rice's three honorees are the most of any league member. Middle Tennessee, Southern Miss, Tulane and Tulsa each had two teams honored, while seven other schools had one winner apiece.
Women's track and field had the highest GPA among Rice's winners, at 3.451. Under the direction of head coach Jim Bevan, the squad saw 34 team members named to the C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll this past season, with 15 earning the C-USA Commissioner's Academic Medal. Sophomore Belle MacFarlane represented the team on the Conference USA All-Academic Team as well.
Men's golf claimed the award with a 3.439 grade point average for head coach and 2014 C-USA Coach of the Year Justin Emil. In addition to winning the program's first C-USA Championship this season, Rice placed nine golfers on the Commissioner's Honor Roll this spring, with two claiming C-USA Commissioner's Academic Medals. Tommy Economou and Landon Michelson were also named GCAA Cleveland Golf/Srixon All-America Scholars last week.
Men's basketball became the longest-standing repeat honoree with its fourth-straight Sport Academic Award. The squad posted a 2.969 grade point average and placed a league-high 12 players on the Commissioner's Honor Roll. Austin Ramljak was a repeat Academic All-Conference team member and joined Bahrom Firozgary, Seth Gearhart and Dan Peera on the NABC Honors Court. Last week, the team was one of 30 NCAA Division I recipients of the NABC Team Academic Excellence Award.
For only the second time in Rice's nine years in Conference USA, the Owls did not claim the Institutional Excellence Award, given to the school with the highest grade point average among student-athletes in conference-sponsored sports. In its final season of league membership, Tulsa took home the honor with a 3.145 cumulative GPA.
Below is a list of the C-USA's academic team award honorees in the sports in which Rice competes:
Sport: Recipient (*repeat winner) - GPA
Baseball: Louisiana Tech - 3.148
Men's Basketball: ***Rice - 2.969
Women's Basketball: FIU - 3.370
Men's Cross Country: Tulsa - 3.624
Women's Cross Country: Southern Miss - 3.795
Football: Tulane - 2.809
Men's Golf: Rice - 3.439
Women's Soccer: Middle Tennessee - 3.604
Women's Swimming: North Texas - 3.546
Men's Tennis: Southern Miss - 3.647
Women's Tennis: UAB - 3.694
Men's Track and Field: Tulsa - 3.210
Women's Track and Field: Rice - 3.451
Volleyball: *Tulane - 3.444