n Jacob Buckman
Student-Athletes Win A-Sun All-Academic Trophy for Record Sixth Time
Rick Byrd Signs Contract Extension
Though often shining as stars in their respective sports, Belmont studentathletes are proving that education is still their top priority as numerous teams and individuals garnered academic accolades this semester. For the sixth time in its seven-year history as an Atlantic Sun Conference member institution, Belmont earned the conference’s All-Academic Trophy. Further cementing its reputation for achieving athletic and academic success, Belmont saw an astounding 161 of its 229 student-athletes receive All-Academic honors. In addition, three Belmont teams were honored nationally by the NCAA in its annual Division I Academic Progress Rate (APR) Public Recognition Awards. Belmont men’s basketball, men’s soccer and men’s tennis each ranked in the top 10 percent within their respective sports. Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “This is what I really love about Belmont’s athletic program: No matter what the scoreboard shows at the end of a competitive contest, we know that we’ve ‘won’ by playing with class, giving our very best, exhibiting good sportsmanship and doing all of this with scholar-athletes who will leave Belmont and make significant contributions to meeting the needs of the world.” Along with recent APR recognition, five times in school history a Belmont team has earned the top GPA in the nation for its respective sport. This past fall, Belmont men’s cross country was recognized by the U.S. Track & Field Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) as having the highest overall team grade point average (GPA) in the country at 3.57. For the 2007 fall semester, Belmont Athletics had a department GPA of 3.254, which is the highest for the fall semester in the department’s Division I era. Also, every Belmont team had a team GPA of over 3.0 for the first time in the Division I era with the top three team GPAs coming from Women’s Cross Country (3.619), Women’s Golf (3.538) and Men’s Golf (3.503). n
Alum Signs with Major League Soccer Team
Men’s basketball coach Rick Byrd recently agreed to a five-year contract extension. Byrd, who with 541 career victories is one of only 15 active Division I men’s basketball coaches with 500 or more career victories, was named 2008 Atlantic Sun Conference Coach of the Year.
Hare, a highly-decorated guard on the Bruins’ three-time defending Atlantic Sun Champion men’s basketball team, was one of only three men’s basketball student-athletes in all divisions of intercollegiate play to receive an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. The Cleveland, Tenn. native graduated with honors in May and will attend Lincoln Memorial University’s Osteopathic Medicine program this fall.
“Any and every success that our basketball program has enjoyed, credit must begin with Rick Byrd,” Director of Athletics Mike Strickland said. “Coach Byrd stands for all that is good in college athletics, challenging, teaching, and inspiring his players. This is an exciting time of growth and achievement for our program, and we could not imagine anyone else on the sidelines for Belmont.” n
Hare ranks second in the Bruins’ NCAA era and eighth in Atlantic Sun Conference history in career points with 1,761 points. Known for lategame heroics with 14 career game-tying or game-winning shots, Hare was also the lead figure in Belmont’s three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and was named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic AllAmerica University Division Men’s Basketball First Team. “My college experience here at Belmont has been storybook,” Hare said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better athletic or educational experience. I have truly been blessed at Belmont.”
Former Belmont University soccer standout Jay Ayres has signed to play for the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer. Ayres, a central defender, was a two-time A-Sun Conference Defensive Player of the Year, a two-time A-Sun Conference First Team selection and an All-South Region player. The Valrico, Fla. native was a four-year starter and a two-year captain at Belmont. Moreover, Ayres, who graduated this past December with a degree in accounting, was a three-time Academic All-Conference honoree and a finalist for a coveted NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. “We are all very proud of Jay, and his success is an example of the quality coming out of Belmont Soccer and the Atlantic Sun,” Belmont head men’s soccer coach Earle Davidson said. “MLS is the soccer equivalent in the United States of the NFL or the NBA. To have one of our players graduate and go directly into the top level of soccer in our country is a tremendous accomplishment.” Ayres signed a developmental contract and was in uniform April 3 as San Jose opened its MLS regular season against David Beckham and the Los Angeles Galaxy. The Major League Soccer Season runs from April through the end of November. n
Likewise, Weaver departs as one of the most accomplished studentathletes in Belmont history. A multiple individual and team champion in cross country and track, Weaver saved her finest performances for her senior campaign. After lapping the field at the A-Sun Cross County Championship and placing fifth at the NCAA South Region meet, Weaver posted the best individual finish ever by a Bruin runner at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in November. Moreover, Weaver was named to the United State Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) All-Academic Team. The Nashville native graduated with honors in May, earning degrees in exercise science and marketing.
Belmont Says Farewell to two class acts Senior Student-athletes Justin Hare and Lauren Weaver each received the Presidential Scholar-Athlete of the Year award at the athletic department’s annual Scholar-Athlete Reception in April.
“Through all the ups and downs of my college experience, I have discovered things about myself that I otherwise would not have,” Weaver said. “In fact, the various challenges and opportunities of being a student-athlete at Belmont are treasures I will hold onto and take with me wherever life leads me next.” n
Published on Sep 7, 2011