For the second year in a row, PLNU has been recognized for the President’s Award for Academic Excellence, after leading NCAA Division II with an Academic Success Rate of 98 percent.
PLNU had previously finished in third place in 2014, in second place in 2015, and now back-to-back years coming in first place. PLNU tied with Bentley University and Saint Michael’s College for the top spot with 98 percent, with more than three hundred NCAA Division II schools being looked at for the award.
The Academic Success Rate is recognized as the percentage of student-athletes who graduate within six years of first enrollment of a college, and includes all NCAA Division II athletes, including transfers and those not on scholarship.
PLNU is also just one of 35 schools to achieve the four-year academic success rate of 90 percent or higher, which happens to be PLNU’s first four years as a part of NCAA Division II. During the time of this award, eight of PLNU’s teams have qualified for postseason play, and nine PLNU student-athletes have been recognized as All-Americans for their respective sport.
PLNU women’s soccer senior defender, Morgan Pearce, who is president of SAAC (Student-Athlete Advisory Committee), tries to constantly balance herself between student and athlete, especially with soccer taking up about four hours a day. “It’s a lot of time taken away from academics, but it’s just learning how to balance the schoolwork and what to prioritize and not a lot of free time, which is something you have to sacrifice,” she said. “In the fall, our lives are pretty much soccer, school, sleep.”
PLNU Athletic Director Ethan Hamilton is very appreciative of the rate of PLNU’s academic and athletic success. “It’s pretty affirming of the work of not only what our student-athletes are doing but the recruits, initially, of what our coaches are bringing in, and it’s affirming to the mission of the institution,” he said.
Even though PLNU started getting recognized for this award in 2014, it goes all the way back to 2008, according to Hamilton. “For me, I’ve just seen the quality of the student-athletes that we’ve brought in, not just from an athletic standpoint, but just the person. I think we’re bringing in higher quality people, who are just as or more focused than ever on the academic side and wanting to maximize their experience,” said Hamilton.
Student-athletes will always talk about how much their coaches impact their life, and it truly is the case here at PLNU. Tim Hall, who is retiring as the coach of the women’s soccer team, had a profound impact on many of his player’s lives, including Pearce.
“Tim Hall, he is the best person for emphasizing academics and athletics. When we were recruited, he wasn’t just soccer only, but asked us how we were in school and how we were in our faith. He really looks at the whole picture, and that translated into how he coached us,” she said.
Among the entire student-athlete population at PLNU, they achieved a school-record high 3.375 combined GPA last year. The record-high GPA is a reflection on the overall success both academically and athletically PLNU has, and the university hopes to continue to improve on that GPA average year by year.
The word student comes before the word athlete for a reason, and our student-athletes here at PLNU take that to heart, which shows with the recognition of this award.