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JSU Honored for Student-Athletes' Success

August 18, 2004 — Jacksonville State University has won the OVC Academic Achievement Banner, which is given to the university whose student-athletes have achieved the highest combined grade point average.

After experiencing its most athletically successful year since making the move to Division I in 1995, new Ohio Valley Conference member Jacksonville State University capped off its season of accolades by claiming one of the league's most prestigious honors, the OVC Academic Achievement Banner, for the 2003-04 year.

The OVC Academic Achievement Banner is given annually to the university whose student-athletes have the highest combined grade point average as compared to the average for the entire full-time undergraduate student body.

Jacksonville State's student-athletes had a combined grade point average of 2.88, which eclipsed the 2.36 average of the entire full-time undergraduate student body. Eight JSU student-athletes achieved a perfect 4.0 average during the 2003-04 academic year. Austin Peay State University finished second in the banner competition while Tennessee State University placed third.

"We're very proud of our student-athletes' work in the classroom and especially the accomplishment of winning this prestigious honor," said President Dr. William A. Meehan. "Our student athletes have the highest grade point average and the highest graduation rate of student athletes for any public college or university in the State of Alabama. We are proud of our athletes as they add value to the higher education experience at Jacksonville State University."

Sixty-three percent of JSU's student-athletes enrolling as freshmen in the 1996-97 school year have received degrees.  The school's athletic graduation percentage is one point higher than the national average of 62 percent and represents the highest total among public institutions in Alabama.

JSU had 14 of its 16 intercollegiate athletic teams produce a mean grade-point-average of 3.09 last fall. The Gamecock volleyball team continued to lead the way with an average 3.42 GPA. Nine players on the JSU volleyball squad posted at least a 3.0 or higher, including four players with a perfect 4.0.

"There are two awards that we should be in contention for each and every year," said JSU athletic director Jim Fuller. "That being the academic award and the sportsmanship trophy. Those two areas are character and commitment. You can win or lose in competition, but you can be a good sport in doing that.

"As far as the academic banner, every student-athlete should enter Jacksonville State University, first and foremost, as a student," added Fuller. "They may not be the biggest, strongest or fastest player on the team, but they can all use their minds and excel in the classroom."

Tracy Broom is the NCAA Academic Enhancement Coordinator at Jacksonville State and was assisted by Gary DeBoy and Mike Davis.

As part of the award, Jacksonville State, Austin Peay and Tennessee State will receive monetary donations to their student-athlete academic enhancement programs. The funds, which were provided by Aeropostale, Inc., total $4,000. Jacksonville State will receive $1,750 while Austin Peay and Tennessee State will receive $1,250 and $1,000, respectively.

"We're pleased Aeropostale has joined us in recognizing the academic achievements of our student-athletes," stated OVC Commissioner Dr. Jon A. Steinbrecher. "This Conference takes great pride in the success of its student-athletes, not only on the playing field, but more importantly, in the classroom.

"The Academic Achievement Banner is a very visible reminder of the values of the Ohio Valley Conference," continued Steinbrecher. "Jacksonville State University deserves to be proud of this significant accomplishment by its student-athletes. Furthermore, all of our member institutions are to be commended for the academic achievement of their student-athletes."

Jacksonville State's performance marks the first time in the coveted award's 18-year history it has gone to a first-year member. In addition to Eastern Kentucky University, which has earned a league-high eight banners, including four straight from 1988-92, Morehead State University has claimed five banners while Austin Peay State University, The University of Tennessee-Martin and Tennessee State University have earned one banner apiece.

In addition to the Academic Achievement Banner, the Conference announced its individual academic awards for the 2003-04 year. Eighty-four student-athletes from 18 sports have been awarded the Ohio Valley Conference Medal of Honor, while 844 student athletes have been named to the Commissioner's Honor Roll.

The Medal of Honor is given annually to the student-athlete who achieves the highest grade point average in a Conference-sponsored sport. All 84 of the student-athletes who earned a medal achieved a perfect 4.0 grade point average. Eastern Illinois, Morehead State and Tennessee-Martin tied with a league-high 11 Medal of Honor recipients apiece, while Jacksonville State, Murray State, Southeast Missouri and Tennessee Tech had eight each.

On the Commissioner's Honor Roll, women's soccer topped the list of overall and women's squads with 106 honorees, while women's track and field had 85 and softball (77) edged out volleyball (74). On the men's side, football claimed the most spots with 87 and baseball added 65. To be listed, recipients must have achieved at least a 3.25 grade point average and have been eligible and on the team throughout the competitive season in their chosen NCAA-sponsored sport or sports.

Jacksonville State volleyball player Jennifer Brenneman was just one of six student-athletes in the league to be named as an Ohio Valley Conference Scholar-Athlete for 2003-04. The award is the highest individual honor that can be earned by OVC student-athletes and is given annually to three men and three women senior student-athletes for their accomplishments in both the classroom and athletic arena and because of their leadership qualities.

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