1952 The first Academic All-America team is named in football by SMU publicist Lester Jordan.
1957 The College Sports Information Directors of America begins administering the Academic All-America program in football to honor deserving student-athletes who excel on the field and in the classroom.
1963 Men’s basketball is added to the program.
1970 Baseball is added to the program.
1980 Women’s basketball is added to the program.
1982 Women’s volleyball is added to the program.
1983 Softball and “at-large” teams are added to the program.
1983 All-District teams are added to make the program more “grass-roots” oriented.
1985 GTE becomes the exclusive sponsor of the Academic All-America Teams program.
1986 The United States Patent and Trademark Office officially recognizes that CoSIDA established all aspects of this program and awards a federal registration mark for the term “Academic All-America.” (The trademark is re-issued in 2006 to extend through 2026.)
1988 The Academic All-America Hall of Fame is established.
2000 Verizon assumes corporate partnership after merging with GTE.
2001 Men’s and women’s soccer, formerly included within the at-large category, become distinctive teams.
2002 Men’s and women’s track and field/cross country, formerly included within the at-large category, become distinctive teams.
2003 Verizon ends its affiliation when the company concludes that the heart of the Academic All-America program – balanced excellence – is inconsistent with Verizon’s prior merger commitment to literacy.
2004 ESPN The Magazine takes over as CoSIDA’s corporate partner/sponsor.
2008 The minimum grade-point average requirement is raised from 3.20 to 3.30 due to the continued growth in the number of nominations.
2010 ESPN corporate assumes sponsorship rights in July.
2010 Capital One signs a contract in December to become the entitlement rights holder, with approval from ESPN for the balance of the 2010-11 academic year, as well as a three-year extension with CoSIDA that provides those rights for the 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years.
By Gary Brown
Later this month, the College Sports Information Directors of America will introduce the first Academic All-America teams of the year, continuing the only program of its kind that has recognized student-athlete academic achievement for more than half a century.
What makes 2011-12 a benchmark year for the program, though, is that for the first time, CoSIDA will announce Academic All-America teams in all three NCAA divisions.
For years the program has been separated into “university” and “college” divisions to distinguish Division I honorees from the rest. Now, thanks to support from NCAA corporate partner Capital One and contributions from the Divisions II and III identity campaigns, the Capital One Academic All-America program will recognize 48 national teams annually in 12 sports – one team each for Divisions I, II and III, and a college division squad that combines NAIA institutions, two-year colleges and Canadian schools.
This year’s program kicks off when CoSIDA and Capital One announce Academic All-America Teams in men’s and women’s soccer on Nov. 29 (Division III), Nov. 30 (Division II) and Dec. 1 (Division I).
“We really wanted to break up the college division, because it included so many student-athletes and was so difficult to achieve distinction,” said CoSIDA Executive Director John Humenik. “Fortunately for us, Capital One came on board, and Mike Racy and Dan Dutcher (NCAA vice presidents for Division II and Division III, respectively) stepped forward last summer as part of their branding campaigns and allocated funds for us to have separate division designations.”
*At-large teams include all NCAA championship sports that don’t have specific AAA teams, such as golf, tennis, swimming and lacrosse.
The university and college distinctions reflected the same names the NCAA used to distinguish competitive levels, but the labels lingered long after the NCAA went to its divisional structure in 1973. It became problematic for the Academic All-America program, particularly in the college division since that bucket was so full of potential nominees. SIDs with student-athletes carrying 3.6 or 3.7 grade-point averages became reluctant to nominate them because they knew the competition was so stout just because of the volume.
Humenik said the updated program expands CoSIDA’s grass-roots reach. “We’ll have 384 All-District teams per year and now 48 national teams instead of 24. That’s close to 4,000 student-athletes honored annually, from All-District to first-, second- and third-team Academic All-America.”
The program got a boost when Capital One, which joined the NCAA corporate partner program in 2010, signed on with CoSIDA in January 2011 to help promote student-athlete academic achievement.
“We think Cap One will be an active and engaged partner,” said Temple Associate Athletics Director Larry Dougherty, who served as president of CoSIDA last year and has been member of the organization’s Academic All-America Committee for 15 years. “Cap One already invests in major athletics events, including college sports, but they wanted to be known for more than just promoting what’s great on the field. They wanted to be equally prominent in promoting what’s great off the field.”
Capital One takes on sponsorship of a program that has honored more than 20,000 student-athletes since its inception in 1952. It encompasses all sports in which the NCAA conducts championships. Separate teams are selected in football, women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, softball, and men’s and women’s track and cross country.
3.30 Minimum grade-point average to be nominated as Academic All-America
12 National AAA team programs
24 National AAA teams selected before 2011-12 (university and college divisions)
48 National AAA teams selected beginning in 2011-12 (Divisions I, II and III, and a college division that combines NAIA institutions, two-year colleges and Canadian schools)
100 Members of the Academic All-America Committee who coordinate the nomination and selection process and the organizational marketing and PR efforts for the program
117 Inductees to date in the Academic All-America Hall of Fame
288 Student-athletes who will receive first-team Academic All-America distinction in 2011-12.
820 Student-athletes who will receive Academic All-America recognition in 2011-12 (first, second and third team)
12,000 Average annual number of AAA nominees over the last decade
20,000+ Student-athletes who have been named Academic All-America since the program’s inception
300,000+ Student-athletes who have been nominated as Academic All-America since the program’s inception
Student-athletes in other sports such as swimming and diving, tennis, golf, field hockey and ice hockey are eligible for the men’s and women’s at-large programs. The Academic All-District teams (in eight geographic districts) are voted on by the CoSIDA membership at large, with first-team selections advancing to the national Capital One Academic All-America ballot. At that point, first-, second- and third-team performers are chosen by the Academic All-America Committee members and CoSIDA board of directors.
In all, about 1,950 athletes earn all-district honors (in eight districts), 820 earn All-America honors and 288 are first-team Academic All-America selections.
Capital One also will sponsor the Academic All-America Hall of Fame, which was established in 1988 to honor the Academic All-America selections that have gone on to outstanding achievements in their chosen careers.
“The Academic All-America program is one of the most reputable and recognized student-athlete awards in intercollegiate athletics” said Capital One Chief Marketing Officer Bill McDonald. “As a national supporter of student-athletes and their quest for excellence on the field and in the classroom, Capital One is proud to help shine a spotlight on these individuals and their outstanding achievements. We look forward to working with CoSIDA to grow awareness around this program even more in the future.”
Dougherty said the new-and-improved program fits CoSIDA’s mission to recognize and promote student-athlete achievement in completion and in the classroom.
“That’s the main thing we do,” he said. “There’s no better way to do that than through the Academic All-America program. At the same time, earning first-team Academic All-America distinction is hard to achieve. We’re not watering anything down by expanding the program. We’re simply able now to honor more deserving athletes and do so in their own divisions. It certainly has grown from just being a football academic award in the 1950s.”
“We’re advocates for college athletics and the student-athletes who participate,” Humenik said. “And while the few high-profile student-athletes who run into academic trouble tend to grab the headlines, those of us who work in this enterprise know that 99 percent of student-athletes do things the right way. This program is another way to demonstrate to the membership and the public that there literally are thousands and thousands of student-athletes who are doing it right.”