The Robert Morris University Department of Intercollegiate Athletics is not all about winning on the field, court or ice.
Success in the classroom through academics is as much a triumph as the athletic competitions themselves. Robert Morris University is committed to the total development of its student-athletes.
The 2011-12 academic year followed the trend set before it as 105 Colonials were named to the 2011 Northeast Conference (NEC) Fall Academic Honor Roll, 51 to the 2012 NEC Winter Academic Honor Roll and 122 to the 2012 NEC Spring Academic Honor Roll.
To be eligible for an NEC Academic Honor Roll, a student-athlete that participates in a sport must own a cumulative grade point average of 3.20 or better. Likewise, to be named to an NEC Commissioner's Academic Honor Roll, the student-athlete must have compiled a cumulative GPA of 3.75 or better.
For Robert Morris in 2011-12, 37 student-athletes were named to the 2011 NEC Fall Commissioner's Academic Honor Roll, 20 to the 2012 NEC Winter Commissioner's Academic Honor Roll and 42 to the 2012 NEC Spring Commissioner's Academic Honor Roll.
In addition in 2011-12, 14 student-athletes from the RMU women's ice hockey team were named to the 2012 College Hockey America (CHA) Academic Team, while 26 Colonials from the Robert Morris men's ice hockey squad were tabbed to 2012 Atlantic Hockey Association (AHA) All-Academic Team, a new record.
The Metro Atlantic Athletic Association (MAAC) also named six student-athletes from RMU to its 2012 Women's Rowing All-Academic Team, while a total of 18 Colonials from the women's rowing squad were tabbed to the 2012 MAAC Academic Honor Roll.
As a department, Robert Morris posted an average cumulative team GPA of 3.30 among its 23 Division I programs. A total of 20 of RMU's 23 athletics programs finished with team GPA's of 3.0 or higher in 2011-12, with women's cross country (3.785), women's indoor and outdoor track & field (3.545), women's volleyball (3.655), softball (3.650), women's lacrosse (3.380) and men's lacrosse (3.140) posting the highest GPA's of any institution in the Northeast Conference.
Those seven sports helped bolster RMU in earning the 2012 NEC Institutional Academic Award for the first time in school history. Student-athletes that compete in 20 NEC sponsored sports combined to post a 3.279 GPA during the 2011-12 academic year to establish a new league record.
Overall, nearly 70 percent of all of RMU's 550 student-athletes posted a 3.0 or higher grade point average.
The NEC also honored five of RMU's student-athletes with the NEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year in their respective sport during the 2011-12 academic year, tied for the most in the conference with Mount St. Mary's. Honored with the award were Nolan Nearhoof (football), Hannah Veith (volleyball), Casey Folga (women's indoor track & field), Jaci Timko (softball) and Kiel Matisz (men's lacrosse).
Brianna Delaney and Katelyn Scott of the women's ice hockey team were also named the CHA Co-Scholar-Athletes of the Year, while Jeff Jones and Tyson Wilson of the men's ice hockey squad were two of 14 student-athletes earning AHA Student-Athlete of the Year accolades.
Additionally in 2011-12, Robert Morris had five student-athletes named to their respective Capital One District II Academic All-America Teams by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Joining Nearhoof (football) and Matisz (men's lacrosse) were Brad Banas (football), Logan Miles (football) and Leah Prenctice (women's soccer).
Nearhoof went on to earn Capital One Academic All-America Second Team honors for the second consecutive year.
RMU's exploits in the classroom in 2011-12 should come as no surprise. Since 1988, a total of 22 Robert Morris student-athletes have been named the NEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year in their respective sports, including former Colonials Jeff Witmyer (2004-08) and Jim Baughman (1996-2000) of the RMU track and field team.
Witmyer was a three-time selection, earning the NEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year after the 2007 indoor season and the honor for both indoor and outdoor track and field in 2008. Baughman was awarded the 1999 NEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year for indoor track and field and was bestowed the honor again in 2000 for outdoor track and field.
The Robert Morris volleyball, football and softball programs have each had four student-athletes named the NEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year since 1988, which is tops among RMU's 23 intercollegiate programs.
Robert Morris has also placed 46 student-athletes on Capital One District II Academic All-America Teams since 1992, including 21 individuals that were honored in consecutive years.
Football has led the way with 14 student-athletes named to the Capital One District II Academic All-America Team, followed by softball with 10 honorees and volleyball with six. CoSIDA's District II covers Delaware, the District of Columbia, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
A pair of former Robert Morris student-athletes also garnered the honor of being named the NEC Scholar-Athletes of the Year in the first six years the award has been distributed. Sponsored by the league's faculty athletic representatives, the award is bestowed annually upon the NEC male and female student-athlete who has exhausted his or her eligibility, graduated and has posted the highest cumulative grade point average at the conclusion of the academic year.
In July of 2009, senior Tara Maxwell of the women's track and field team earned the honor after compiling a 3.99 grade point average as a manufacturing engineering major throughout her four years at Robert Morris. Maxwell was one of three NEC female student-athletes to earn the award in 2009, joining Kathleen Henry of the Sacred Heart cross country program and Erin Reifsteck of the Saint Francis (Pa.) field hockey team.
Maxwell joined former Colonial volleyball player Lisa Jaszka (2003-06) as a winner of the award, as Jaszka was honored in 2007 for posting a perfect 4.0 GPA as an elementary education major.
The reason for RMU's success in the classroom is simple. Colonial student-athletes receive the very best support when it comes to their academic curriculum. Evening study halls are monitored by the department's student services personnel, and academic counseling is available from both the athletic department and the University's enrollment management office.
Graduation is the goal, and Robert Morris University strives to ensure its student-athletes achieve that objective.