June 14, 2012
OXFORD, Miss. - Four Ole Miss teams have been recognized as among the elite academic programs in the country in their sport with the NCAA's announcement of the public recognition awards on Thursday. The Ole Miss men's basketball, women's basketball, softball and women's golf programs received the prestigious honor for their latest Academic Progress Rates (APR).
Among Southeastern Conference institutions, Ole Miss' total of four teams is second only to Vanderbilt in the number of its programs to win the award this year.
The teams that are recognized posted multi-year APRs in the top 10 percent of all squads in each sport.
"We are extremely proud of our student-athletes and coaches and the high value they place on academics," Director of Athletics Ross Bjork said. "These results indicate our student-athletes are focused and dedicated to succeeding both in competition and in the classroom, and our coaches, staff and faculty should be commended for the strong academic emphasis and the support structure they provide.
"A special thanks to our academic support staff for the dedication they have showed to our young men and women. Academic excellence is one of our core values and high standards will continue to be a priority for Ole Miss Athletics"
Each year the NCAA honors selected Division I sports teams by publicly recognizing their latest multi-year APR. This announcement is part of the overall Division I academic reform effort and is intended to highlight teams who demonstrate a commitment to academic progress and retention of student-athletes by achieving the top APRs within their respective sports.
Andy Kennedy's men's basketball team was the only SEC program to make the list and one of only 38 Division I teams overall. After winning 20 games and making another postseason appearance in 2011-12, Rebel seniors Terrance Henry and Steadman Short earned their bachelor's degrees. Meanwhile, rising senior Nick Williams has also already completed requirements for his first bachelor's degree and will pursue a second degree this upcoming year.
Ole Miss is among only 41 Division I women's basketball teams and two SEC squads to earn the distinction, along with Tennessee. Seniors Nikki Byrd and Whitney Hameth both graduated following their Rebel careers on the hardwood and point guard Valencia McFarland was an All-SEC selection.
The Rebel softball team makes the list for the second straight year and is among just 30 Division I teams and only two SEC squads to receive the distinction this year, along with Florida. Highlighting the softball team this year, RT Cantillo was named All-SEC and Allison Brown made the SEC All-Freshman team. Four Rebel seniors earned their bachelor's degree.
Michele Drinkard's women's golf team makes the list for the fourth straight year. This year, Ole Miss is among 75 Division I women's golf teams and four SEC squads to earn the distinction. The Rebel golfers also earned their fourth straight NCAA berth this year and had seniors Ashley Lance and Haley Millsap both graduate magna cum laude.
The APR provides a real-time look at a team's academic success each semester by tracking the academic progress of each student-athlete on scholarship. The APR accounts for eligibility, retention and graduation and provides a measure of each team's academic performance.
Full APR scores for all teams, including penalties for low-performing teams, will be released June 20.