Mishawaka, Ind. – The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has announced the athletic teams that have earned the distinction of Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Team for the 2016-17 academic year.
For the first time in the history of Bethel College athletics, all 17 NAIA-sponsored athletic teams were among those selected for the distinction. The Pilots are one of five athletic departments in the NAIA with at least 17 different athletic programs to have 100% be recognized as a Scholar-Team.
"The intercollegiate athletic experience is a combination of intense athletic and academic pursuit," explained Dr. Kent Eby, Bethel's Faculty Athletic Representative. "This honor reflects the collective efforts of our athletes, coaches, faculty, and staff."
For a team to be considered for the NAIA Scholar-Team award, it must have a minimum 3.0 grade point average, on a 4.0 scale, as defined by the institution. The team grade point average includes all eligible varsity student-athletes.
Women's Golf earned the honor of having the highest GPA in the department, finishing with an impressive 3.65 cumulative team GPA. They finished in the top five percent for the highest GPA across all 1,682 NAIA Scholar-Teams. Women's Tennis, Women's Basketball, Women's Cross Country, and Women's Volleyball rounded out the top five, all finishing north of 3.4.
"Our women's golf program strives for excellence in all things, so I am extremely proud of the continued success these young ladies have had in the classroom," Women's Golf Head Coach Christopher Hess stated. His program has had the highest grade point average in the athletic department for 14 consecutive semesters. "The relationships and support of our professors with our student-athletes is something that sets Bethel College apart and makes this such a special place to learn and grow!"
In addition, the athletic department produced 50 individual NAIA Scholar Athletes for the 2016-17 academic year. In order to be nominated, a student-athlete must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.5, on a 4.0, scale and must have achieved junior academic status.
"I am very proud of our student-athletes on this academic accomplishment," commented Athletic Director Tom Visker. "Academic excellence is one of the four pillars our athletic program is built upon. It is great to have validation from the NAIA that our efforts in this area are producing fruit."
The Bethel College Pilots compete in 17 intercollegiate sports for men and women. While accumulating 3 NAIA National Championships and 32 NCCAA National Championships by 10 different athletic teams, Bethel has also produced 143 NAIA All-American honors and 309 NAIA Scholar-Athlete honors over the past decade. Bethel College is an accredited Christian college offering associate's, bachelor's, and master's degrees in more than 70 areas of study.
For more information on NAIA awards, including the Scholar-Team honor, click here.