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UVU basketball: Wolverines rank 10th in WBCA Academic Top 25

By Kellen Hiser

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, July 24 2014 10:35 a.m. MDT

For the fifth straight season, the Utah Valley University women's basketball team finds itself ranked inside the top 10 of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association Academic Top 25 Team Honor Roll.

Announced Thursday, the list, which is comprised of team GPA data from the 2013-14 academic year, shows the Wolverines in the No. 10 spot behind a team grade point average of 3.543. Under the tutelage of 19-year head coach Cathy Nixon, UVU has now appeared in the WBCA Top 25 for eight consecutive seasons.

"It's a tremendous testament to the dedication and hard work of the student-athletes in our program to have been able to accomplish this for an eighth straight year," Nixon said. "It's even more exciting when you consider our two outgoing seniors, Whitney Jenkins and Kyra Prause, have spent basically their entire careers with this program ranked inside the top 10 in GPA.

"UVU has a great system in place with the academic support staff and the girls have been committed to this task. It's a total team effort and a goal the girls set before the year. They are always asking me about grades, wanting to keep this tradition of academic excellence going. We're certainly blessed to have such a motivated group in the classroom."

The WBCA Academic Top 25 annually recognizes NCAA Division I, II and III; NAIA; and junior/community college women's basketball teams across the nation that carry the highest combined grade point average inclusive of all student-athletes on their rosters for the entire season. The 2013-14 season is the 19th where the WBCA has compiled the honor rolls.

In last year's edition, Utah Valley ranked first among DI programs. It was the second time in just four years the Wolverines had topped the list. That top spot will remain with the Western Athletic Conference, though, as league rival Kansas City garnered a No. 1 ranking with a team GPA of 3.628. The Kangaroos were led on the court and in the classroom by Academic All-American and second team All-WAC point guard Eilise O'Connor.

Rounding out the DI top 5 are Eastern Washington (3.615), Northern Colorado (3.614), St. Francis (3.608) and Western Illinois (3.607).

Upper Iowa University took the top spot in the DII ranks and boasted the best GPA in the entire NCAA with a 3.801 team GPA. Westminster College in Missouri (3.642) headed the DIII list, while Mount Marty (3.746) topped the NAIA ranks. Rounding out the lists, Utah's Snow College (3.584) ranked No. 1 in the junior/community college category for the second straight year.

A team's GPA is calculated by dividing the total number of quality points earned by the total number of hours attempted by all team members in the academic terms (semesters or quarters) that the season spans. Weighted grades are converted to a 4.0 scale. The GPAs are rounded to the nearest thousandth of a point. Teams are nominated for the honor by a WBCA member head coach. A team must have a 3.000 or better GPA to be nominated.

Founded in 1981, the Women's Basketball Coaches Association promotes women's basketball by unifying coaches at all levels to develop a reputable identity for the sport and to foster and promote the development of the game as a sport for women and girls. For more information on the WBCA, visit the wbca website.

Kellen Hiser is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.