TUSCALOOSA | As the University of Alabama gets the new academic year underway next week, the Crimson Tide athletics department is not only coming off a banner season in the athletic arena, but a record-breaking year in the classroom as well.
"In a year during which we accomplished so much and reached new heights in so many areas, I am exceedingly pleased with the success our student-athletes enjoyed academically," UA Director of Athletics Mal Moore said. "As we prepare for the start of another school year, I want to say how proud I am of the focus our student-athletes and coaches put on academics and the efforts Jon Dever and our entire academic support staff put into helping each student-athlete reach their full potential."
As a group, Alabama's more than 525 student-athletes averaged better than a collective 3.0 grade-point average for the 2011-12 academic year, including 48 who maintained a career GPA of 4.0. Overall, five teams posted GPAs above 3.5 for the second year in a row.
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More than 140 student-athletes earned their degrees over the last year. Alabama currently graduates 74 percent of its student-athletes while the general student population graduates at rate of 66 percent.
Alabama's national championship football team had 21 graduates, one shy of the BCS National Championship Game record the Tide set in 2009. Football also had the second highest graduation rate among schools in the final 2011 BCS top 10 and has posted the second-highest graduation rate in the SEC each of the past three years.
UA once again led the SEC in Capital One Academic All-America honors, tallying a school-record nine honors overall in 2011-12. Leading the way among the Tide's Academic All-America honors was senior Brooke Pancake, who clinched Alabama's first NCAA Championship in women's golf in May. The Chattanooga, Tenn., native was named the 2012 NCAA Division I Female Capital One Academic All-American of the Year, marking the first time a UA student-athlete has earned that honor.
Kayla Hoffman, who closed out her tenure at the Capstone by leading Alabama to the 2011 NCAA Gymnastics Championship, capped her stellar career by earning the prestigious NCAA Top VIII award in January of 2012.
Alabama led the SEC in NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships and NCAA Elite 89 recipients in 2012 with five scholarship winners -- second only to Stanford. Pancake, swimmer Kyle Weeks, tennis player Taylor Lindsey along with cross country runners Nathan Corder and Leigh Gilmore all earned NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships.
Mary Anne Macfarlane (tennis), Rachel Terry (gymnastics) and Cory Whitsett (golf) earned The NCAA's Elite 89 Award during the 2011-12 academic year. The Elite 89 is awarded to the athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average at each NCAA Championship.
Five UA student-athletes were named SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year in their respective sports: Barrett Jones (football), Jennifer Fenton (softball), Kim Jacob (gymnastics), Courtney McLane (women's tennis) and Pancake (women's golf).
Alabama had 246 honorees on the SEC Academic Honor Roll for 2011-12, with 56, 48 and 87 student-athletes named to the SEC Fall, Winter and Spring Academic Honor Rolls, respectively, and 55 named to the First-Year Academic Honor Roll. Alabama football had 38 players named to the SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll in 2011 - a conference record for the sport.