Aug. 17, 2015
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – As the University of Alabama gears up this week for the start of 2015-16 academic year, the Crimson Tide Athletics Department is coming off another amazing year in the classroom, both in terms of individual and team accomplishments.
For the second year in a row, Alabama led the nation in Academic All-American honors in 2014-15, tallying a dozen accolades, one off the school-record set in 2013-14, including Lauren Beers (at-large/gymnastics), Emily Zabor (at-large/women’s tennis), Anton McKee (at-large/men’s swimming and diving), Connor Oslin (at-large/men’s swimming and diving), Arie Kouandjio (football), Merel van Dongen (soccer), Laura Lee Smith (soccer), Sierra Wilson (volleyball), Krystal Rivers (volleyball), Levi Randolph (men’s basketball), Haylie McCleney (softball) and Nia Barnes (women’s track and field/cross country)
Barnes, Beers and McCleney all earned the honor for the second time while Randolph became the first men’s basketball player to earn Academic All-America honors in Alabama history.
In addition to earning Academic All-America honors for the second year in a row, McCleney was also named the softball Academic All-America of the Year, becoming the seventh consecutive UA student to earn that honor for their respective sport. During that span, Alabama also became the only school in the history of the program to earn the overall NCAA Division I Academic All-America of the Year honor three years in a row (Brooke Pancake, 2012; Barrett Jones, 2013; and Kim Jacob 2014).
With huge back-to-back Academic All-America classes in 2013-14 and 2014-15 – tallying a two-year total of 25 honors – Alabama made a big jump in the national rankings, moving from 13th all-time in NCAA Division I following the 2012-13 academic year to fifth following 2014-15 with 139. The Tide’s all-time total is the best in the SEC. The Crimson Tide also made a significant jump to third place when it comes to honors since 2000 with 103, just behind second-place Notre Dame.
After a school-record seven student-athletes earned NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships in 2014, Alabama added two more in 2015 when Smith and Zabor earned the prestigious scholarship. The Tide’s 2015 tally gives UA a five-year total of 22 NCAA Postgraduates Scholarships, which leads the SEC and is just behind Stanford for the NCAA Division I lead over that span.
Beers also earned the NCAA Elite 89 Award for the second year in a row in 2015. The Elite 89 is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA’s 89 championships. The Crimson Tide is tied with Stanford for the national lead in NCAA Elite 89 Awards with 14 over the six-year history of the award. No other school in the country has more than nine. Alabama gymnastics is the only program in the NCAA to go a perfect 6-for-6 when it comes to the Elite 89 Award.
Gymnastics All-American and NCAA Champion Kim Jacob was named to the NCAA Top 10 in January of 2015, making her one of the nation’s 10 overall best senior student-athletes both athletically and academically. With Jacob’s honor, Alabama has now had a student earn this accolade (originally known as the NCAA Top 5, and subsequently, Top 7 and Top 8 before becoming the Top 10 prior to 2014) 13 times, including eight times in the past decade.
Overall, Alabama’s more than 550 student-athletes averaged better than a 3.0 grade point average, including 41 who maintain a career GPA of 4.0. Between the fall and spring semesters student-athletes earned a place on the President’s List (4.0 GPA) 128 times and on the Dean’s List (3.5-3.99 GPA) 262 times. Five teams posted cumulative GPAs above 3.5 for the year, marking the fifth year in a row that at least five teams have met that standard, while 12 of 17 programs earned GPAs over 3.0 for the academic year.
More than 140 student-athletes earned their degrees during the 2014-15 academic year. The latest numbers find that Alabama graduates 71 percent of its student-athletes while the general student population graduates at a rate of 66 percent.
The Alabama football team featured 22 players who already had degrees in hand when they took the field for the 2015 Allstate Sugar Bowl, including seven that had master’s degrees. That number tied for best in the nation. There were a nation’s-best 28 graduates on Alabama football’s roster when it took the field for the 2014 Allstate Sugar Bowl, while the Tide set the BCS National Championship Game record in 2011 with 22 graduates.
Altogether, the Crimson Tide’s last three national football championship teams (2009, 2011 and 2012) featured 60 players who had earned their degrees before the BCS Championship Game even got underway. Over the past seven seasons (2008-present) Alabama has seen 131 degrees earned (graduate and undergraduate) by players still suiting up for the Tide after their graduation.
On a conference level, Smith (soccer) and Daniil Proskura (men’s tennis) earned Southeastern Conference Postgraduate Scholarships in 2015. Smith was also one of four Crimson Tide students named SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year for their respective sports, giving Alabama the most honors of any school in the league. She was joined by Randolph (men’s basketball), McCleney (softball) and Zabor (women’s tennis). Over the past four years, Alabama student-athletes have earned this award 23 times, including going 5-for-5 in women’s tennis.
Alabama was also prolific when it came to the SEC Academic Honor Roll, earning the accolade 300 times during the 2014-15 academic year. The Crimson Tide had 48, 66 and 107 student-athletes named to the SEC Fall, Winter and Spring Academic Honor Rolls and 79 named to the First-Year Academic Honor Roll.
Additional 2014-15 Academic Highlights
- Alabama student-athletes have earned 14 NCAA Elite 89 Awards since the accolade’s inception in 2010, which ties the Crimson Tide for No. 1 nationally with Stanford and puts Alabama and the Cardinal five ahead of North Carolina and Nebraska which are tied for third.
- Alabama led the nation with 57 Academic All-America honors over the past six years, including a school-record 13 accolades during the 2013-14 academic year and 12 during 2014-15.
- The Crimson Tide ranks fifth all-time in Academic All-America honors, and first among Southeastern Conference schools, with 137 accolades. Alabama also ranks third in Academic All-America honors since 2000.
- Alabama led the nation in Academic All-America honors in both 2013-14 and 2014-15.
- The Crimson Tide once again led the nation in first team Academic All-America honors in 2014-15 with five.
- Softball player Haylie McCleney was named the 2015 Capital One Softball Academic All-American of the Year. It marked the seventh consecutive year an Alabama student has earned Academic All-America of the Year honors for their respective sports.
- Alabama led the nation with seven NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships in 2014. Crimson Tide student-athletes have earned the prestigious scholarship 22 times over the past five years, which ranks UA second nationally over that span, just behind Stanford.
- In January 2015, gymnast Kim Jacob was honored with the NCAA Today’s Top Ten award, which goes to the top-10 senior student-athletes regardless of division, sport or gender.
- The Alabama women’s swimming and diving team was one of just four that finished in the top 30 both at the NCAA Championships (29th) and by grade point average (16th). Of that number, only Purdue, which finished 30th, posted a better team GPA than the Crimson Tide’s 3.560.
- The Crimson Tide men’s swimming and diving teams was one of five teams that finished in the top 10 at the NCAA Championships and post a team grade point average better than 3.10. Of that number, only Stanford and Michigan posted a better team GPA than the Crimson Tide’s 3.13.
- Both the Alabama men’s and women’s tennis programs were honored as 2015 ITA All-Academic Teams, which requires a 3.20 or better team grade point average.
- The Alabama gymnastics team finished fourth in the nation among NCAA Division I squads by team grade point average after posting a 3.65. The Crimson Tide gymnasts, which also finished fourth at the NCAA Championships, is one of just two teams at 2015 NCAA Championships to finish in the top-20 by team GPA.
- The Crimson Tide volleyball team earned the AVCA Team Academic Award with a 3.507 team GPA.
- The Crimson Tide track and field/cross country women were honored by the USTFCCCA as a 2015 All-Academic Team. Alabama was the only women’s team in 2015 to finish in the top-20 nationally both indoors and outdoors and post better than a 3.40 team grade point average. The Crimson Tide women posted a 3.48 GPA, while finishing 17th at the NCAA Indoor Championships and 20th at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.