The undefeated Nebraska women's basketball team is enjoying an outstanding, rec- ord-breaking season. As successful as the Big 12 champion Huskers have been on the court, their extraordinary performance in the classroom is especially worthy of praise.
NU can boast of several shining examples of academic and athletic excellence, starting with Kelsey Griffin, a national player-of-the-year candidate. The senior will most likely be a three-time first-team academic All-Big 12 honoree. Additionally impressive is her selection this season as a finalist for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, which recognizes success on the court, in the classroom and in the community.
Griffin is leading the fan voting for the award, which no student-athlete at Nebraska has ever won. A biological sciences major, Griffin carries a 3.5 grade-point average and plans to pursue a career in medicine after her basketball career.
Several of Griffin's teammates also stand out, having completed demanding course loads while juggling hectic schedules as student-athletes. Kala Kuhlmann, a senior, owns a 3.8 GPA and is poised to be a three-time first-team academic All-Big 12 pick. Kuhlmann has already been accepted to law school and will graduate in May with her bachelor's degree, with majors in Spanish and psychology.
Cory Montgomery will likely earn her second first-team academic All-Big 12 award this season. She was an honorable-mention All-Big 12 pick last season on the court. Montgomery carries a 3.3 GPA and earned her bachelor's degree in business administration in just 3˝ years on Dec. 19. Fellow senior Nicole Neals, who majored in management, also earned her degree in 3˝ years.
As a team, the women's basketball program produced better than a 3.1 GPA during the spring semester, and all six seniors are on track to graduate by the end of this semester.
In baseball, NU's DJ Belfonte also was announced as one of 30 candidates for the Lowe's award. Belfonte carries a 3.7 GPA and plans to attend law school following his baseball career.
All of these Husker student-athletes are continuing a rich tradition: No school has produced more Academic All-Americans than the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Furthermore, while the Nebraska football team is the most honored program in the nation, other NU athletic teams excel nationally in academics as well. The volleyball team is the most honored female sports team in the nation, and the softball team ranks second among all women's teams across NCAA Division I, II and III, which is comprised of more than 1,400 schools.
Several student-athletes at Creighton University also have distinguished themselves in academic excellence. Both the men's and women's soccer teams have earned the National Soccer Coaches Association of America's Team Academic Award, an honor annually given to teams that compile a GPA of at least 3.0. Creighton was one of 98 schools (all levels) to have both teams earn the award.
Creighton also was recently recognized with the Missouri Valley Conference All-Academic Award. Remarkably, CU won the award for the fifth time in its seven-year existence. Bluejay student-athletes posted a 3.32 cumulative GPA over the 2008-09 academic calendar, tying the school's best mark ever.
Two of CU's standout student-athletes are Tara Oltman in softball and Seth Sinovic in men's soccer.
Entering her senior season, Oltman is the only three-time MVC Pitcher of the Year. She owns the conference record for career wins. A two-time Academic All-American with a 3.9 GPA, she is an English major with a co-major in secondary education.
Sinovic is a two-time All-MVC selection and a two-time All-Midwest Region pick. The senior was selected last month in the second round of the Major League Soccer draft. An economics major, he carries a 3.491 GPA. He was a first-team MVC scholar-athlete selection as a junior and was chosen as an all-region scholar by the NSCAA.
Additionally, seven CU teams have rightly earned recognition from the NCAA for their most recent multiyear Academic Progress Rates (APR). Those teams are men's golf, men's tennis, women's basketball, women's cross country, women's golf, women's soccer and women's volleyball. The seven teams from Creighton represented nearly 40 percent of the Missouri Valley Conference's 18 programs honored.
The APR examines a team's academic success each semester or quarter by tracking the academic progress of each student-athlete. The APR formula incorporates eligibility, retention and graduation and aims to provide a clear picture of the academic culture in each sport.
Both the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Creighton University can be proud of these extraordinary achievements by their student-athletes. These academic successes should help ensure productive careers for these young adults after their athletic endeavors are over.