San Antonio – The Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) announced today, Thursday, Sept. 3 that St. Mary’s University men’s golf team is the Academic National Champion for the 2008-2009 academic school year. The honor marks the first time that St. Mary’s has received this prestigious recognition.

For teams to be considered, they have to have a minimum 3.00 grade point average for the academic year. St. Mary’s is the leader in the NCAA Division II category and was also accorded the President’s Special Recognition status for earning team GPAs of 3.50 or better. The Rattlers had a team cumulative GPA of 3.62 for 2008-2009.

The six members of the St. Mary’s University Rattlers team were: Preston Akromis (Graduated, San Antonio), James Grant (Sr., San Antonio), Sam Jernigan (So., San Antonio), Jeff Rein (Jr., Garden Ridge, Texas), Alex Maurer (Graduated, St. Louis, Mo.) and Matt Vela (Jr., San Antonio).

“This team truly exemplifies the term ‘student-athlete’ with their hard work and commitment on and off the course,” said St. Mary’s President Charles L. Cotrell, Ph.D. “With five national titles and hundreds of student-athlete national and regional academic awards, St. Mary’s prides itself on its winning traditions. We provide a cultivating environment for students to thrive in, both academically and athletically, and our dedicated faculty gives them the tools they need to excel beyond college. That is why St. Mary’s student-athletes graduation rate is higher than the NCAA Division II average.”

The Academic National Champion award capped off a year of honors for St. Mary’s University men’s golf team. On the course, the Rattlers won their third Heartland Conference Tournament Championship, while Rein earned medalist honors in his first season with the Rattlers. St. Mary’s advanced to the NCAA South Central Region Tournament for the eighth straight year.

Off the course, the Rattlers had two golfers earn regional or national academic award recognition. Akromis and Maurerwere both honored by the GCAA as Cleveland Golf All-American Scholars. St. Mary’s was one of just nine Division II schools with multiple honorees. Maurer also received College Sports Information Directors/ESPN Magazine Academic All-District recognition.

St. Mary’s is home to 12 Academic All-Americans (nine of whom were golfers) and 219 student-athletes who have earned regional or national academic awards. During the 2008-2009 academic year, Rattler student-athletes’ cumulative grade point average reached 3.11; nine of St. Mary’s 12 sports had a cumulative team grade Point average of 3.00 or better. Our student-athletes graduation rate is 63 percent, higher than the NCAA Division II average of 55 percent.

All 12 Rattler athletic teams have 100 percent participation in community service. In 2008, St. Mary’s students were engaged in more than 125,000 community service hours. Accordingly, St. Mary’s has consistently been recognized by inclusion on the President of the United States’ Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. St. Mary’s is ranked fourth in the West Region for quality and value in the U.S. News & World Report’s 2010 edition of “America’s Best Colleges.”

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