NAIA Schools Rank Amongst Academic All-America Leaders
By: Sam Knehans, Communications & Sports Information Intern
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Nebraska Wesleyan University, the lone school to hold a dual affiliation with the NAIA and the NCAA Division III, ranks among the all-time leaders in Capital One Academic All-America selections—regardless of college division. The esteemed Academic All-America program is unlike any other that honors student-athlete scholarly efforts, as it is the sole award-granting body to require stringent criteria for performance both in the classroom and on the field.
To be eligible to become a Capital One Academic All-American, a student-athlete must be a starter or key reserve player for his or her team and have at least a 3.30 cumulative GPA. The on-field criterion differentiates the Academic All-America honor from the Daktronics-NAIA Scholar Athlete distinction, which is awarded to junior and senior NAIA student-athletes with at least a 3.50 cumulative GPA—regardless of on-field performance.
Ninety-seven Prairie Wolves student-athletes have won a combined 141 Academic All-America awards. This total places Nebraska Wesleyan eighth among all schools, trailing NCAA Division I Nebraska, (307), Notre Dame (Ind.) (231), Penn State (182) and Stanford (Calif.) (176), and NCAA Division III Massachusetts Institute of Technology (204), Augustana (Ill.) (146), and Emory (Ga.) (144).
Nebraska Wesleyan’s total positions it first among NAIA schools, by a margin of nearly 100 selections. Trailing the Prairie Wolves in the all-time rankings are Embry-Riddle (Fla.) (48), Oklahoma City (48), Mount Vernon Nazarene (Ohio) (41) and Oklahoma Christian (39).
The Prairie Wolves have earned over half of their Academic All-America awards since 2000, ranking eighth overall with 79 Academic All-Americans during that span. For the 2012-13 season, Nebraska Wesleyan earned 13 selections, good for third in the NAIA behind Embry-Riddle and Morningside (Iowa), which each had 14 student-athletes honored as Academic All-Americans.
The Doane (Neb.) (12), Oklahoma Baptist (11), Saint Ambrose (Iowa) (11), Northwestern (Iowa) (10) and St. Francis (Ill.) (10) athletic departments were also recognized with double-digit Academic All-America selections for the 2012-13 season. Biola (Calif.) and William Woods (Mo.) rounded out the Top 10 NAIA institutions, with nine award winners each. For the complete list of 2012-13 Academic All-Americans, click here.
Three NAIA institutions are listed among the Top 10 Academic All-America award winning programs for a specific sport. Nebraska Wesleyan ranks seventh among football programs with 45 all-time selections and eighth among men’s track and cross country programs with 15 award winners. Oklahoma City is tied for tenth among women’s soccer programs with eight all-time selections and Embry-Riddle is tied for tenth among women’s track and cross country programs with eleven award winners.
Since 1952, the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) has honored more than 20,000 student-athletes with the prestigious Academic All-America award. In January 2011, Capital One partnered with CoSIDA to become the named sponsor of this illustrious and historic award program.
In 2011, the program—which had previously selected teams from just two divisions, the University Division comprised of NCAA Division I schools and the College Division encompassing NCAA Division II and Division III institutions as well as NAIA schools and two-year colleges—expanded to include four divisions: Division I, Division II, Division III and the College Division that includes NAIA institutions, two-year colleges and Canadian schools.
Since 2011, the Capital One Academic All-America program has annually selected 816 distinguished student-athletes as Academic All-Americans.
All honorees are initially nominated by a current, dues-paying CoSIDA member who completes the application on their behalf. Student-athletes cannot be recognized unless the school’s sports information director registers with CoSIDA and nominates them.
After being nominated, the student-athletes are voted upon by current CoSIDA members, who select the Academic All-District teams. Those who obtain first-team Academic All-District status move on to the national ballot, which is voted upon by Academic All-America Committee members and the current CoSIDA Board of Directors to select the national award winners.
To learn more about CoSIDA, click here.
To learn more about the Capital One Academic All-America Program, click here.
To learn more about the Daktronics-NAIA Scholar Athlete Program and other NAIA awards, click here.