Augie expects All-American success to continue
With 'no lack of quality candidates,' changes in NCAA program don't worry SID Wrath
Who has the most?
1. Nebraska 291
NCAA Division III
1. MIT 176
College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin
1. AUGUSTANA 135
Nov. 9, 2011
Augustana College takes pride in its ability to graduate more Academic All-Americans than almost any other institution, so when the NCAA announced major changes in the awards program this week, the Vikings were paying close attention.
For years, Academic All-America (AAA) team awards went to student-athletes in two groups. Division I athletes were in one group. Division II and III, plus National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes (NAIA) institutions, competed in the other. Teams are selected from a dozen men's and women's sports, so a total 24 AAA teams were chosen each year.
Under the new plan, there will be AAA teams in all three NCAA divisions, plus a "college" division squad that combines the NAIA, two-year colleges and Canadian schools. This means a total of 48 teams of honorees.
"The split to four Academic All-American teams, from two previously, means that each institution now competes for Academic All-Americans within the same framework that it competes on the field of play," said Dave Wrath, Augustana sports information director since 1981.
Wrath said he doesn't expect the change to affect Augustana's distinction as a leader in Academic All-Americans. "The NCAA Division III schools have been the dominant force in the old format, so this may not change the numbers all that much," he said.
Athletes are nominated for the AAA honor by their school's sports information director (SID). The NCAA said that some SIDs were not nominating qualified candidates because of the sheer number of competitors in the old DII-DIII-NAIA group.
Officials from the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) said the change allows more deserving student-athletes to be recognized. "We really wanted to break up the college division, because it included so many student-athletes and was so difficult to achieve distinction," said John Humenik, CoSIDA executive director.
Wrath, who is widely credited with the ability to help Augustana athletes win AAA recognition, said he doesn't foresee any changes in the way his college chooses and nominates students.
"We have been very successful with identifying and promoting qualified candidates for the Academic All-American process," he said. "We probably won't change anything now. At Augustana we don't lack for quality candidates.
"Augustana has been successful within the Academic All-American program because the institution places great value on the combined effort of athletic prowess and academic success, and those athletes who want to excel in the classroom are embraced and celebrated."
He said the Academic All-American program embodies the very essence of what being a student-athlete is supposed to mean.
"At Augustana we are very fortunate to have had a successful run at identifying these student-athletes and we are grateful for the opportunity to showcase them."
(See the complete announcement from the NCAA)