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DePaul Celebrates Sensational Run of Academic Excellence
Jackie Kasal led women's track to a USTFCCCA All-Academic Team award and also won an individual All-Academic award.

Jackie Kasal led women's track to a USTFCCCA All-Academic Team award and also won an individual All-Academic award.
Aug. 7, 2014

CHICAGO - In a recent span of 13 days, the DePaul athletics department was honored with six academic accolades.

Almost every other day from July 23 to Aug. 4, the Blue Demons were being singled out for their dominance in the classroom.

This academic "winning streak" began on July 23 when Moritz Ackerhans was named a Cleveland Golf/Srixon All-America Scholar. It was the seventh consecutive year a Blue Demon golfer has claimed that accolade.

Just 24 hours later, the women's basketball team was honored by the WBCA (Women's Basketball Coaches Association) after posting the No. 8 team grade-point average in the country at 3.559. It was the fourth year in a row DePaul has finished in the top 10 while becoming the only top-10 academic program that advanced to the NCAA tournament Sweet 16.

The Blue Demons really made an impact in the realm of collegiate student-athletes on July 30 when the men's golf team was crowned the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) academic national champion for the fourth time in five years.

Coach Betty Kaufmann's team posted a 3.639 team GPA as three golfers posted a 4.0 at least one quarter a total of five times in 2013-14.

"After finishing No. 1 three years in a row, the golfers were disappointed when Brown won the national title last year," said Kate O'Brien, Director of Athletics Academic Advising. "They wanted to show everyone that they could do it again.

"The guys on the golf team calculate their GPAs, keep close track of what they're doing and hold each other accountable. Their coach has high expectations of her golfers. Then, they'll go and set the bar even higher."

One day after the golf team's triumph, the BIG EAST Conference announced that 154 DePaul student-athletes had been named to the BIG EAST All-Academic Team.

That was the second-highest number of Blue Demons to be recognized since DePaul joined the conference in 2005-06. In 2009-10, 166 Blue Demons made the all-academic team.

The very next day (Aug. 1), more good news. The women's track and field squad earned the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association's All-Academic Team award with a cumulative team GPA of 3.43.

In addition, Matt Babicz and Mac Melto of the men's team and Jackie Kasal on the women's side received All-Academic honors from the USTFCCCA.

The sixth accolade in 13 days came on Aug. 4 when five of DePaul's 15 athletic programs received a BIG EAST Team Academic Award. DePaul and Butler tied for the most team academic awards.

It was the fourth consecutive year the Blue Demons finished atop the BIG EAST. This year's honorees included women's basketball, golf, men's soccer, women's tennis and softball. Of those five programs, women's basketball, women's tennis and softball also claimed BIG EAST Conference titles in their respective sports.

"It's a lucky 13, and I'm incredibly proud of our student-athletes' commitment to excel inside and outside the classroom," said DePaul Athletics Director Jean Lenti Ponsetto. "It speaks to their dedication when you see so many accolades bestowed upon them in just 13 days.

"I marvel at their eagerness for learning, their enthusiasm for being elite students and their willingness to take in all that DePaul and the city of Chicago have to offer. That is very apparent when you see how well they perform in the classroom.

"Add to that their skill, dedication and work ethic to successfully manage a challenging schedule of academics and athletics and it's no wonder our student-athletes are in such demand and so marketable after they graduate."

DePaul has made a significant impact on a national academic landscape that includes the vaunted Ivy League.

"It's something special when our student-athletes are out-performing Ivy League schools," O'Brien said. "It's because our faculty is so dedicated, and everyone at DePaul will do whatever it takes to help the student-athletes succeed. It's all about the people---students, faculty, coaches and staff members.

"This has been a great two weeks for us, and it speaks to our culture. Our coaches are as competitive about academics as they are about athletics. It's a process where we bring in student-athletes committed to academic excellence and then maximize it to their potential.

"I remember Jeanne speaking at Orientation last year saying that we did well, but the expectation is to do even better. It's cool that women's basketball, women's tennis and softball received BIG EAST Team Academic Awards and also won the BIG EAST Championship in their sports. Men's golf won the academic award and also had its best finish in program history."

Let the celebrating begin.

"I am really proud and really grateful for all the student-athletes who contribute to our success," Ponsetto said. "We should all join in celebration across the university with faculty and staff, coaches, university guidance staff, Athletics Academics Advising---so many people who made valuable contributions to our lucky 13."