UTA student-athletes soar in the classroom and on the court
The Sun Belt Conference announced that 122 student-athletes from The University of Texas at Arlington made the league’s Commissioner’s List and Academic Honor Roll during the 2016-17 academic year. UTA’s student-athletes also earned the third-highest graduation rate among all Division I public institutions in Texas, and the women’s tennis team received the NCAA Public Recognition Award for academic achievement.
The NCAA’s most recent report lists UTA’s graduation success rate for student-athletes as exceeding the national average in every sport in which UTA competes, and the graduation rate for UTA men’s basketball is more than double the national average.
The Sun Belt Commissioner’s List honors student-athletes who maintained a 3.5 or higher GPA, while the Academic Honor Roll honors student-athletes with a GPA between 3.0 and 3.49.
“Certainly, we are proud of the achievements of our student-athletes in competition,” said UTA director of athletics Jim Baker. “But our commitment to academic success, earning a UTA degree and being fully prepared for the next phase of life is a top priority for our athletics program.”
The NCAA‘s Public Recognition Award, earned by the UTA women’s tennis team, is based on a university’s Academic Progress Report, which is a scorecard of academic achievement for Division I teams. Awards are given to teams in the top 10 percent of their respective sports. The women’s tennis team received the Public Recognition Award for the fourth year in a row. The team GPA through Fall 2016 was 3.427. Valeria Lopez led the team with a 3.78 GPA.
“UTA Mavericks are student-athletes, in that order,” said women’s tennis coach Diego Benitez. “Their academic work is going to stay with them forever, and the fact that they combine both the highest level of athletics with the highest level of learning shows their passion and commitment for doing the best in every field.”
As a department, UTA’s 220 student-athletes concluded the 2017 spring semester with a 3.1 cumulative GPA.
Excitement is building for the launch of a new year of academics and athletics, after an unprecedented 2016-17 season for UTA.
“Our coaches demand excellence and lead by example,” said UTA President Vistasp Karbhari. “Student-athletes respond with outstanding energy, and we are proud of their achievements, both on the fields of competition and in the classroom. Our students epitomize the definition of ‘student-athlete’ through their excellence.”
More than 30 UTA student athletes earned all-conference honors. Seven qualified for individual NCAA championship competitions. Basketball forward and rising senior Kevin Hervey was named the Sun Belt Conference Male Student-Athlete of the Year, the league’s highest individual honor. Three track and field athletes earned 2017 All-American Honors and three UTA coaches were recognized as Sun Belt Coach of the Year for their respective sports. Additional highlights from the past year include
- The UTA men’s basketball team made it to the quarterfinals of the National Invitational Tournament after some major wins, including the first-ever victory over UT Austin.
- Over the last two seasons, the men’s basketball team has won 52 games, the second-highest total among Division I programs in Texas.
- The women’s basketball team finished as runner-up in the Sun Belt Conference regular season and won the third-most games in program history.
- Men’s and women’s basketball teams combined for a 49-18 record in 2017. The .731 winning percentage was the second-best among Division I programs in Texas.
- The women’s softball team capped a 32-win season with a bid to the National Invitational Softball Championship, its first postseason selection since 2003.
- The women’s tennis team made it to the NCAA Doubles Championships.
- UTA’s baseball team won a program-record 20 games in the Sun Belt and won the Western Division.
- The men’s track and field team claimed the coveted triple crown with Sun Belt Conference championships in cross-country and indoor and outdoor track and field.
UTA’s teams are led by strong coaches who also received multiple accolades during the 2016-2017 season. Director of men’s golf Stuart Deane qualified to play in the AT&T Byron Nelson and the prestigious PGA Championship. Baseball coach Darin Thomas was named Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year as was Men’s Track and Field coach John Sauerhage and men’s basketball coach Scott Cross. Cross is the winningest coach in program history.
Among UTA student-athletes excelling in both academics and athletics in 2016-17 was Priscilla Glenn, one of the University’s all-time leaders in women’s pole vault. Glenn graduated in May 2017 with a 3.927 grade point average and received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to continue her studies in plant genetics.
Baseball senior Brady Cox was one of 30 finalists for the Senior CLASS award, given to student athletes who show academic success and commitment to community service. Catcher Will Olson, a sophomore, was named Academic All-American, UTA’s first baseball player to receive the honor in 20 years. Olson has a 3.92 GPA as an economics and finance double major.
The Sun Belt conference also recognized Maverick men and women for their talent and incomparable work ethic. Hervey received Sun Belt Conference Male Student-Athlete of the Year honors and women’s basketball center Rebekah VanDijk was named to the Sun Belt Conference’s Leadership Team.
Service to community is one of the abiding characteristics of a Maverick student-athlete. The UTA chapter of SAAC, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, earned the Sun Belt Conference Community Service Champion award for 2016-17.
SAAC encourages unity and camaraderie between teams and coordinates community service opportunities such as volunteering with Miracle League of DFW, Mission Arlington, and the Salvation Army, as well as helping at the annual Mavs Move-In, visiting local hospitals and gathering donations during the annual Tarrant County Food Bank canned food drive.
During the 2016-17 academic year, UTA collected more than 9,300 canned food items, toys, pieces of clothing, footwear, electronics and toiletries. UTA student-athletes also visited schools and community organizations to speak about the importance of education.
“Our student-athletes are selfless. They care about their teammates and their community and know the importance of giving their time and talents to others,” said Baker. “We don’t have to convince them to take part in community service, they seek out opportunities because that is the caliber of individuals who are attracted to UTA.”
Basketball and volleyball season tickets for 2017–18 are now available at utatickets.com.