With the league’s highest academic achievements and thanks in part to Big Sky titles in football and men’s basketball, Eastern claims the trophy it won in the 2009-2010 school year
The Eagles came back for seconds.
Five years after winning the award for the first time, Eastern Washington University has again won the Big Sky Conference Presidents’ Cup presented by Red Lion Hotels for the 2014-15 school year, the league office announced Sunday (July 19).
The Cup will be presented for the 13th time on Monday evening at the Big Sky Conference Summer Football Kickoff in Park City, Utah. The Eagles won a tiebreaker over runner-up Montana State, while two-time defending champion Northern Arizona was third.
The Presidents’ Cup is unique in collegiate athletics in that it reinforces the Big Sky's dedication to the academic side of the student-athlete experience. Overall athletic success is combined with team grade point averages, Academic Progress Rates and All-Conference performers with grade point averages of at least 3.0.
“There is a tremendous amount of credit that is due to our student-athletes, coaches, staff and administration for winning this award for a second time,” said Eastern athletic director Bill Chaves, who was also at the helm when EWU was victorious in the 2009-10 school year. “First and foremost, it validates the hard work they put forth toward academics, but also in the community and on the courts and fields of competition. This culminates a year that will go down as one of the most successful all-around seasons in our Division I era.”
“It really was a remarkable year,” said EWU president Mary Cullinan. “I’m incredibly proud of our student-athletes. They worked so hard and remained so focused on success in every part of their lives. I’m also very appreciative of the commitment shown by our coaches, staff, and faculty to support that success. What a great year!”
The Eagles jumped to the top of the Presidents’ Cup standings with a first-place finish in academics. Eastern had the league’s second-best grade point average (3.336), was second in the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate (APR) and had 34 All-Conference student athletes with a 3.0 GPA or better to also rank second.
Four of Eastern’s athletic programs all had 3.48 team grade point averages – women’s basketball, women’s cross country, men’s indoor track and field and men’s outdoor track and field. Men’s outdoor track and field and men’s basketball (3.27) had the best team GPAs in the league in their respective sports.
Eastern was fifth in athletic points with 104, highlighted by an outright Big Sky title in football and a co-championship in men’s basketball. Eastern’s women’s basketball team tied for third, the indoor track and field and women’s cross country teams were fourth, and both outdoor track and field teams placed fifth in the league.
“I congratulate Eastern Washington University President Dr. Mary Cullinan, Eagle Athletics Director Bill Chaves, as well as all of the coaches, administrators and student-athletes on earning the Big Sky’s most prestigious honor,’’ said Big Sky Conference Commissioner Doug Fullerton. “The fact EWU finished fifth overall in athletics shows just how much weight and importance is placed on the academic criteria.”
Every Big Sky school averaged at least a 3.06 team GPA. Idaho State was first at 3.35 followed by EWU at 3.34. Out of 161 teams from the 11 full members (not including Idaho, Cal Poly and UC Davis), 134 of them had at least a 3.0 GPA. Last year it was 127 out of 160.
Eastern Washington’s Team GPAs
Women's Basketball 3.48
Women's Cross Country 3.48
Men's Outdoor Track & Field 3.48
Men's Indoor Track & Field 3.48
Men's Tennis 3.39
Women's Tennis 3.35
Women's Indoor Track & Field 3.33
Women's Outdoor Track & Field 3.33
Women's Golf 3.31
Men's Basketball 3.27
Men's Cross Country 2.95
Presidents’ Cup Winners
2002-03 - Weber State
2003-04 - Weber State
2004-05 - Montana State
2005-06 - Northern Arizona
2006-07 - Montana
2007-08 - Weber State
2008-09 - Weber State
2009-10 - Eastern Washington
2010-11 - Montana
2011-12 - Montana State
2012-13 - Northern Arizona
2013-14 - Northern Arizona
2014-15 - Eastern Washington