Move over Stanford and MIT, Taylor student-athletes are at the top of the class this year.
From the small town of Upland, Ind., and a student body of approximately 1,900 students, the Trojans of Taylor University can claim what many in the world of college athletics would consider the mythical academic national championship for student-athletes across the country.
Twenty Taylor student-athletes earned prestigious Capital One Academic All-America awards during the 2011-12 school year to give the Trojans more Academic All-Americans than any school in the country at any level. The award-winners in each sport are selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).
Traditional academic powerhouses Stanford and Massachusetts Institute of Technology each had 12 Academic All-Americans to lead NCAA Divisions I and III, respectively. Among the other schools to rank in the top 25 was Johns Hopkins with 10 honorees, and Duke, Alabama, and Arizona State with nine recipients each.
Casey Coons of the men's basketball team grabbed the most headlines of the 20 Taylor winners when he was named the Academic All-America of the Year for the men's basketball college division. Coons is now on the ballot, along with Stanford's Andrew Luck and North Carolina's Tyler Zeller, for consideration as the Capital One Academic All-America of the Year.
NAIA institutions Doane (Neb.) and Morningside (Iowa) each had 19 recipients to tie for second among NAIA institutions.
California University of Pennsylvania led all NCAA Division II schools with 13 honorees.
Criteria for being voted to one of the Capital One Academic All-America teams include a student-athlete's combined performances in the classroom and on the field of play.
To be eligible for Academic All-America consideration, a student-athlete must be a varsity starter or key reserve, maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.30 on a scale of 4.00, have reached sophomore athletic and academic standings at his/her current institution and be nominated by his/her sports information director.
Eleven of Taylor's 15 sports were represented among the 20 honorees with an even split of male and female recipients. The sports of football, volleyball, women's track, and women's cross country led the way with three from each team being recognized. Seven different student-athletes were named to the first team with six on the second team and seven more were named third team Academic All-Americans.
The NAIA's Taylor is a member of CoSIDA's College Division, which is comprised of student-athletes from NAIA, Canadian and two-year institutions. Each of the three NCAA divisions is a separate entity when it comes to Academic All-America voting.