Eastern’s academic prowess proves to be the ticket in Presidents’ Cup race
OGDEN, Utah – For the first time in school history, Eastern Washington University won the Sterling Savings Bank Big Sky Conference Presidents’ Cup, league commissioner Doug Fullerton (pictured on right) announced Friday (July 16).
Eastern Washington University edged The University of Montana and Northern Arizona University, who tied for second, while two-time defending champion Weber State tied for fourth with Montana State.
The Sterling Savings 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. The winner of this award is determined by overall athletic success combined with team grade point averages, graduation rates, and All-Conference performers with grade point averages of at least 3.0.
“It’s a credit to all of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and administration from top to bottom who just had a tremendous year, both in the classroom and on the playing field,’’ said Eastern Washington Athletics Director Bill Chaves. “Everyone associated with Eastern Washington University should be extremely proud of this accomplishment.’’
The Eagles jumped to the top of the Presidents’ Cup standings with a first-place finish in academics.
Eastern’s athletic programs compiled the highest overall grade point average in the league at 3.244, as 13 of its 14 programs registered at least a 3.1. The women’s golf team led with a 3.56, followed by the women's volleyball team (3.44), women’s cross country (3.42), women’s tennis (3.41), men’s cross country (3.35), and women’s basketball (3.31). A total of 28 Eastern Washington All-Conference selections finished with a GPA of at least 3.0.
The Eagles also fared well in the graduation success rate category, as EWU had the second-best GSR in the Big Sky Conference.
“My congratulations go out to EWU President Dr. Rodolfo Arevalo, Athletics Director Bill Chaves, and all of the staff, coaches and Eagle student-athletes,’’ said Big Sky Conference Commissioner Doug Fullerton. “We’ve been awarding the Presidents’ Cup for eight years, and Eastern Washington is the fifth institution to win the award. I believe that shows how competitive our conference is on the field and in the classroom.”
“My thanks also goes to Sterling Savings Bank, who continues to support the Big Sky Conference by backing our most esteemed award,’’ Fullerton added.
Eastern finished fourth overall in athletics, compiling 122.5 points for an average of 8.75 per sport. Eastern Washington’s athletic success was highlighted by the regular-season title by its women’s basketball team. Wendy Schuller’s squad was picked seventh in the preseason polls, but proved the pollsters wrong when it finished with an impressive 12-4 conference record and hosted the Big Sky Championship for the first time in school history.
Eastern Washington’s football team tied for second in the league standings, earning an at-large bid to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. The women’s soccer team captured runner-up honors, while the volleyball squad tied for second.
The EWU men’s and women’s outdoor track and field programs also contributed to the cause, as both programs finished fourth at the championships in May.
“Our first goal is to do well in the classroom, and to try and win conference championships,’’ Chaves said. “Winning the Presidents’ Cup is a validation of those goals especially knowing how difficult and competitive it is to do.’’
Since joining the Big Sky Conference in the 1987-88 season, Eastern’s best finish in the President’s Cup standings had been third, which it accomplished twice in 2003-04 and 2005-06.
Presidents’ Cup Winners
2002-03 Weber State
2003-04 Weber State
2004-05 Montana State
2005-06 Northern Arizona
2007-08 Weber State
2008-09 Weber State
2009-10 Eastern Washington