WALTHAM, Mass – Four members of Brandeis University teams have been named to the University Athletic Association (UAA) President's Council Scholar-Athlete Team for their efforts on and off the fields and courts in 2017-18. To achieve this recognition, a student-athlete must earn first team All-Association honors and must carry a 3.50 or greater cumulative grade point average during that playing season.
Brandeis Track and Field had two honorees – Irie Gourde of Portland, Oregon, for the men and Julia Bryson of Quincy, Massachusetts, for the women. Gourde was the UAA Most Outstanding performer in the running events at both the indoor and outdoor championships, while Bryson was a member of the championship distance medley relay team during the indoor season.
Also honored was first-team All-Association forward Sasha Sunday of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, of the women's soccer team, who led the Judges in scoring and helped the team reach the second round of the NCAA Division III tournament.
Rounding out the selections was Leon Rotenstein of Ashland, Massachusetts, and the men's fencing team, who made it to the final round of the NCAA Northeast Regional championships in the saber, the equivalent of first-team All-UAA honors since the conference does not officially name a team.
The Judges were four out of 108 recipients of the UAA President's Council Scholar-Athlete team. Out of this year's honorees, eight - including Gourde - were named the most outstanding performer or most valuable player in their sport by their respective UAA coaches' group, five won NCAA Division III individual national championships and/or were named national Player of the Year, and six were awarded NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships. This select group of scholar-athletes represents approximately 40% of the eligible All-Association first team honorees for 2017-18.
The UAA Presidents Council created this special recognition in 2009. The original recommendation to establish this honor came from the UAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and was supported by the Athletic Administrators and Delegates Committees.
The UAA has recognized exceptional academic achievement by its student-athletes since 1998 when the Presidents Council established a program of All-Academic recognition for student-athletes who carry a cumulative grade point average that meets the threshold for Academic All-America® recognition (currently a 3.30 GPA). On average, approximately 56% of eligible sophomore, junior, and senior student-athletes from UAA member teams have met that threshold each year. "While our student-athletes appreciated the All-Academic recognition, they sought something that would more directly recognize the combination of academic and athletic excellence that is at the core of the UAA philosophy," commented UAA Executive Director Dick Rasmussen. "In proposing the concept of the award, one of our SAAC members suggested — 'as UAA student-athletes this is what we do, this is who we are.'"
As a group, UAA student-athletes and teams have consistently demonstrated high levels of both academic and athletic achievement. The UAA Presidents Council Scholar-Athlete Team recognition demonstrates the success of these principles at the level of the individual student-athlete.
Biennial studies completed by the Association over the last 16 years have consistently shown the cumulative grade point averages of athletic teams have been statistically equal to the campus population GPA. In the most recent study, covering the 2014-15 academic year, UAA female student athletes had an overall combined average cumulative GPA of 3.42, while UAA male student-athletes had an overall combined average cumulative GPA of 3.30. Of the 68 women's teams and 70 men's teams included in the study, 88 teams (64 percent) met or exceeded the existing 3.30 GPA standard for nominating individuals for Academic All-America® recognition.