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September 18, 2004

Study: Best Athletic / Academic Colleges

FROM THE LONE STAR STATE comes a new award for college athletics that covers numerous areas beyond won-loss records, such as graduation rates and spending money efficiently, established by the Laboratory for the Study of Intercollegiate Athletics (LSIA) at Texas A&M; University.

The award, called the Excellence in Athletics Cup, was created to recognize all-around achievement in athletics and areas associated with student-athletes, said Mike Sagas, director of the LSIA.

"Other awards, such as the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) Cup, recognize schools for their achievements on the field only in national level competition," Sagas explained.

"We created the Excellence in Athletics Cup to recognize the all-around achievements of athletic departments, not just wins and losses in NCAA competition. We think this award is more representative of what makes up an outstanding athletic department."

Sagas said the award is based on a point system for such areas as conference winning, post-season competition winning, excellence in graduation rates of student-athletes compared to the overall undergraduate study body, excellence in gender equity opportunities and scholarship allocations, and excellence in efficiently using financial resources.

The scoring system was based on information provided by NACDA, the Department of Education and the NCAA. The award recognizes winners and ranks universities at both the conference and national levels.

The 2004 winners in each of the six major NCAA conferences:

Southeast Conference: University of Georgia

Big Ten Conference: University of Michigan

Atlantic Coast Conference: Duke University

Big East Conference: Villanova University

Pac-10 Conference: Stanford University

Big 12 Conference: Texas A&M; University

The award also established a national level champion in which conference winning data was omitted and all 68 schools from the six conferences were compared. Penn State University is the winner of the national award with 6160 points, barely edging out Stanford with 6070 points.

"The purpose of the rankings is to recognize schools that are excellent in academics and athletics," Sagas said.

"The winning schools, and those that finished near the top of the rankings, are universities that are successful in and out of the classroom. We hope that all of the athletic departments analyzed in the 2004 program will use the data and rankings to assess areas in which they can improve against their peer institutions."

"Especially, there is a great deal of improvement that could be made in the areas of gender equity and the graduation rates of student-athletes, particularly African-American student athletes."

(SOURCE: Press Release from the Laboratory for the Study of Intercollegiate Athletics, Texas A&M; University, 8-31-04)

For complete scoring results, go to http://lsia.tamu.edu