Northern Arizona University has won the 2005-06 Sterling Savings Bank Presidents Cup measuring academic and athletic performance, the Big Sky Conference announced Tuesday.
NAU claimed the honor for the first time in the four-year existence of the trophy, which is unique to collegiate athletics in that it reinforces the Big Sky Conference’s dedication to the academic side of student-athletes.
“The university and athletics department are deeply honored to have earned this award,” said Athletics Director Jim Fallis, who just completed his second year leading the department. “This is a true reflection on the quality of our student athletes and coaches who work day in and day out to represent NAU at the highest level.”
The Big Sky award came a day after NAU landed in the top 100 U.S. Sports Academy Directors Cup standings.
The Lumberjacks were ranked 90th overall aided by a 10th-place national finish at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. NAU ranked among the top 100 for the fourth time in the last five seasons.
The U.S. Sports Academy Directors’ Cup was developed as a joint effort between the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics and USA Today.
The winner of the Sterling Savings Big Sky Conference Presidents Cup was determined by tiebreaker for the second consecutive year, with NAU winning over Weber State.
Team grade point averages, graduation rates and number of all-conference performers with a grade point average above 3.0 are used to determine the academic side.
Athletic points are determined by regular-season standings for football, soccer, volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball and men’s and women’s tennis. A team’s finish in Big Sky Championships for men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track and field, and golf also determine points.
“We congratulate Northern Arizona, as well as all of our member institutions,” said Big Sky Conference Commissioner Doug Fullerton. “The Lumberjacks had an amazing year on the playing field and in the classroom. I’m extremely impressed with the academic performances of our Big Sky student-athletes.”
NAU athletic teams finished with an overall grade point average of 3.09. The women’s golf team led the way with a 3.53 overall GPA, which was the highest among all Big Sky athletic teams during the 2005-06 school year.