But arguably the Thundering Herd athletic family's greatest performance of the year came in the classroom where a record number of Marshall athletes posted grade point averages of 3.0 or greater. This average was bolstered both the men's and women's teams having combined cumulative GPA's of 3.19 for all teams at Marshall, and placed the second highest number of athletes on the conference academic honor roll.
"Congratulations are in order for our student-athletes and our excellent support services," said MU Director of Athletics Bob "Kayo" Marcum. "Mary Clark and her staff and our compliance office and all of our academic support units for being committed to seeing our athletes succeed." A total of 166 Thundering Herd student-athletes maintained a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better (see April 16, 2006 Herd Insider for list or go to C-USA web site at http://conferenceusa.cstv.com/genrel/053006aab.html) and earned Conference USA Commissioner's Academic Honor Roll recognition.
That number includes 15 who are maintaining an impressive 3.75 GPA or better for their collegiate careers and garnered the prestigious Commissioner's Academic Medal. To put the C-USA list and the Herd's accomplishment in perspective, only one school in the conference, Rice (ranked as the nation's 17th-best college by U.S. News and World Report) with 174 members, produced more student-athletes with 3.0 grade point averages than Marshall. East Carolina ranked third with 158 student-athletes on the list.
"I am extremely proud of all of our student-athletes," Mary Clark, Director of Marshall's Buck Harless Student-Athlete Program, said. "Our student-athletes work very hard to manage their many responsibilities and with that management they are often times able to reap the benefits of that hard work and it shows up in not only their athletic achievements but their academic achievements as well." The Buck Harless Student-Athlete Program (BHSAP) assists Marshall's nearly 400 student-athletes in a full range of academic support services that range from tutoring and class scheduling to career development. The BHSAP helps Marshall's student-athletes deal with the additional responsibilities that come with being an NCAA Division 1-A student-athlete and also tracks their academic progress.
"We are committed to providing the necessary tools for student-athletes to be successful and with that in mind we are always looking for ways to improve those services," Clark said. According to the latest grade reports from the spring semester, the Marshall athletic department and the BHSAP are doing something right. This spring, nine Marshall teams earned 3.0 grade point averages or better and the grade point average for all Marshall Athletes was an outstanding 3.19. "The constant improvement of the staff and the services offered to the student-athletes has definitely helped facilitate their achievements," Clark said. "The services that the staff is able to provide is everything from intrusive advising, increasing the frequency of academic progress reports, improved computer labs and increased number of tutors. In addition to this the faculty has been incredibly receptive and helpful when the BHSAP staff looks for feedback in regard to student-athlete academic progress. Another factor has been the constant dialogue between BHSAP staff, faculty, coaches and student-athletes has gotten stronger."
One of the biggest jumps came in the grade point averages of Marshall's male athletes. In the fall Marshall's men's teams posted a respectable 2.76 grade point average. This spring they improved to 3.19 overall to match the women's combined GPA at 3.19 overall and helping to increase Marshall's C-USA honor roll list to 166 for the year. Clark says these numbers definitely show a positive trend among Marshall's student-athletes. "These statistics support the constant trend that student-athletes on average tend to excel and thus graduate at a higher rate than the average student," Clark said.
Listed below are the 15 Marshall Student-Athletes who earned the Commissioner's Academic Medal for maintaining a grade point average of 3.75 or better during 2005-06:
Football - Marty Biagi, Adam Lee and Jeff Mullins;
Women's Golf - Allyson Hatcher and Whitney Wolejko;
Women's Soccer - Heather Burchett and Cara Hemmerich;
Softball - Amanda Luers and Tarah Mitchell;
Women's Swimming - Emily Edmonson and Ashely Ezell;
Women's Tennis - Holly Asel;
Women's Track - Marian Brooks and Britani Keeney;
Volleyball - Christin Bimberg.
Memphis led C-USA with 37 athletes on the Academic Medal list.