Athletes keeping pace in classroom

The U ranked sixth in the Big Ten for its number of honorees.

The Big Ten honored 61 University of Minnesota student-athletes for their hard work in the classroom. In total, the conference honored 705 student-athletes Tuesday when the conference released the names of those selected to the Academic All-Big Ten teams. Eligible students must be letter winners in at least their second academic year at their university and have a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better. âÄúItâÄôs not easy to be a Division I student-athlete and achieve the success that theyâÄôve achieved academically,âÄù University Athletics Director Joel Maturi said. Ohio State University and Indiana University fielded the highest number of honorees, with 95 and 93, respectively. The University finished sixth in the conference in terms of overall honorees despite only having five teams eligible for the awards. Other universities had as many as seven eligible teams. Purdue University bottomed out the list with 39 student-athletes named to academic all-conference teams. âÄúOur competition is our sister schools in the Big Ten, and whether it be in the standings athletically or academically, we would like to be on the higher end,âÄù Maturi said. ItâÄôs important to keep in mind factors like student-athletes who transfer or turn pro can cause fluctuations in academic numbers, Maturi said. The UniversityâÄôs eligible fall sports were menâÄôs and womenâÄôs cross country, football, soccer and volleyball. There are 208 student-athletes participating in fall sports, not including walk-ons. The Gophers football team alone had 22 of its players selected to the academic all-conference team, including senior wide receiver Eric Decker, who earned the accolade for the third time. Also recording high numbers of honorees were the soccer team, with 13 players, and the womenâÄôs cross country team with 14. As of this fall, the average GPA among the UniversityâÄôs 729 student-athletes is 3.146, according to University news services. The average GPA for degree-seeking undergraduates enrolled in spring 2009 was 3.168, according the University News Services. âÄúI think weâÄôve done a pretty good job of assisting our students to succeed [academically],âÄù said Maturi.