Chippewa Pride: Champions in the Classroom and Community

MOUNT PLEASANT -- While the 2009-10 academic year featured numerous athletic highlights and one of the most successful campaigns in recent history for Central Michigan University athletics, the results in the classroom were equally as impressive—no small task for a department that won five Mid-American Conference titles during the year.

Champions in the Classroom
Chippewa student-athletes put together their 13th consecutive year with a cumulative grade-point average above 3.0. Following the 2010 spring semester, 25 percent of CMU student-athletes own a 3.5 cumulative GPA or better and 49 percent boast a 3.0 GPA or better.  In the spring semester alone, 53 percent of all student-athletes boasted a 3.0 or better and 28 percent earned a spot on the dean’s list (3.5 or better).

Seventeen individuals earned a perfect 4.0 GPA in the spring.

The primary initiative of the athletic department is the graduation of its student-athletes. CMU's 82 percent Graduation Success Rate ranks above the national average and sits fourth among MAC schools.

Four CMU teams recorded GSR scores of more than 90 percent in the NCAA’s most recent study. Field hockey scored a perfect 100 percent, wrestling graduated 95 percent of its student-athletes, while women’s cross country/track and soccer both scored a rate of 94 percent. In addition, the baseball, softball, men’s basketball, women’s basketball and football programs also came in above each sport’s national rate.

Leading the way in the classroom is the CMU women's soccer program, who posted the top GPA (3.73) in the nation among all women's soccer programs for the fifth consecutive season.

The volleyball program received its third consecutive American Volleyball Coaches Association Team Academic Award in 2009 and the men's cross country program earned national recognition from the United States Track and Field & Cross Country Coaches Association for the 15th consecutive season. 

The field hockey program was recognized by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association with the Team Academic Award and placed 12 individuals on the Division I National Academic Squad. Softball also showed its strength in the classroom, finishing the year ranked 15th nationally among all Division I softball programs.

An impressive 43 student-athletes were honored as Academic All-MAC selections, with nine also earning CoSIDA/ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District honors. Shay Mannino of the women's soccer team also earned NSCAA/adidas Academic All-America status. Those figures do not include the baseball awards, which have yet to be announced.

All 16 of CMU's athletic programs exceeded the benchmark score (925) in the NCAA's 2010 Academic Progress Rate report, including men’s cross country, who scored a perfect 1,000. Five other programs scored a 975 or higher: women's cross country (991), field hockey (989), volleyball (986), men's outdoor track and field (975) and women's basketball (975).

The Dick Enberg Team Leadership Award, one of the department’s highest honors, was given to the gymnastics and football programs in 2010, for their efforts in the classroom, in the community, during competition and overall commitment to excellence.

In addition, CMU received the inaugural MAC Cartwright Award, the league’s highest distinction for a member institution. The honor is bestowed on the top overall program that displays athletic excellence, academic success and citizenship.

Champions in the Community
The Student-Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) has continued to grow its presence both internally and externally.

The past year saw the creation of the Athletic Directors Leadership Program, an enhancement of its current CHAMPS/Life Skills program that became the first non-BCS school to earn a "Program of Excellence" honor by the Division 1A Athletics Directors Association.

The SAAC's marquee events—a canned food drive and Rookie Camp in the fall and Jock Rock and Chippewa Connection Conference (C3) in the spring—all enjoyed great success.

CMU student-athletes collected more than 5,000 canned goods and non-perishable food items during its food drive and its inaugural Rookie Camp orientation program was held for incoming freshmen. The seminar, produced by upperclassmen, is designed to give insight on what it takes to be a successful college student-athlete.

The 16th annual Jock Rock raised nearly $1,600 for Kids in Distressed Situations for Haiti, and approximately 140 student-athletes participated in the second annual C3, designed to bring back CMU alumni to discuss and advise current juniors and seniors on their transition into life after graduation.

"We've had tremendous success athletically, but, equally as important our student-athletes continue to succeed in the classroom and in the community," Associate Athletics Director for Student-Athlete Development Jason Holtman said. "Our student-athletes also work hard toward taking care of their own. The SAAC is committed to helping the entire student-athlete body grow as a whole. We continue to graduate a high percentage of student-athletes, and that's our primary goal as an athletics department."

While Central Michigan claimed its most MAC titles since 2004 and three national rankings in 2009-10 and boasted millions of dollars in facility upgrades its brightest spot remained in the classroom.
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