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NCAA honors ASU tennis, baseball for academic excellence

June 05, 2013

The Arizona State women's tennis and baseball teams have been recognized by the NCAA for recording an Academic Progress Rate (APR) in the top 10 percent nationally, the NCAA announced June 5. The Sun Devil women's tennis team earned its ninth-straight score of 1000 (or 100 percent), while baseball recorded a score of 992.

With eight straight APR scores of a perfect 1000, the NCAA has honored the Arizona State women's tennis team, led by head coach Sheila McInerney, each year the public recognition announcement has been in existence.

"I think our APR score is a reflection of the synergy among the ASU administration, Office of Student-Athlete Development, ASU support staff, coaches and, most of all, the student-athletes themselves," said McInerney. "We are fortunate here at ASU that we all believe you can have the best of all words: being successful students, athletes and enjoying your time while being a Sun Devil."

Baseball earning recognition speaks volumes about head coach Tim Esmay's commitment to academic retention and progress toward the graduation of his athletes in a sport where it is not uncommon for athletes to leave early and go pro. It also speaks to the partnership between the baseball coaching staff, student-athletes, and baseball academic coach and assistant athletic director Patrice Feulner.

"I am very proud of these young men, as we put a lot of emphasis on academic success, and it is a main component of the Sun Devil Way, which we discuss daily," Esmay said. "We had a rigorous travel schedule this past season, so this is really a testament to the dedication and hard work of both our student-athletes and Patrice Feulner."

Going from initial marks in the 800's, and being at risk of penalties, to being singled out this year as a top 10 percent achieving team shows the power of such collaboration. A total of 10 baseball student-athletes graduated in the 2012-2013 school year, including five after their collegiate playing days were over.

"Baseball's elevated score is due, in large part, to the emphasis that the coaching staff puts on academics in recruiting and throughout the student-athlete's time at ASU," said Feulner. "We have worked closely with our student-athletes that have been fortunate enough to be drafted after their junior year to ensure that they leave ASU with a graduation plan to finish their degree."

ASU is one of only four Pac-12 schools to have more than one sport recognized. Arizona State and Stanford are the only Pac-12 schools to have their baseball programs honored by the NCAA.  

Each year the NCAA honors select Division I 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. Specifically, these teams posted multi-year APRs in the top 10 percent of all squads in each sport.

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.

Multi-year APRs for all Division I teams, including the teams receiving public recognition, will be announced next week. Last year, Arizona State recorded its highest cumulative APR score since the NCAA started the measurement, with 978 points – 41 points higher than ASU's initial score of 937 in 2003-2004.