This has been a successful season for the Weber State University cross-country teams on the field. Last week, they were recognized for the second-straight year for their off-the-field success as well.

The men’s cross-country team was honored last week for its academic achievement. The team earned a Public Recognition Award from the NCAA for its accomplishment based on the Academic Progress Rate. The Wildcats were recognized among 954 Division I teams that also earned the Public Recognition Award from the NCAA.

NCAA President Mark Emmert said receiving the award speaks highly of the university’s emphasis on schooling. He said one of the goals of the NCAA is promoting success in the classroom as well as on the field.

“These teams prove that it is possible to not only balance academic and athletic commitment, as most student athletes do, but to exceed standards and post outstanding academic scores,’’ Emmert said.

He said the athletes who were recognized showed an extra drive to do more than what is asked of them.

“The drive and determination shown in the classroom and on the field by these men and women represent what it means to be an NCAA student athlete.’’

The APR is a score given to teams based on the academic progress and efforts of the student athletes. The APR is beneficial to universities’ athletic programs because it allows the universities to follow the academic standings of each program based on a few factors, such as retention and eligibility.

The APR tracks the retention and eligibility of each student athlete based on a point system. Athletes receiving some form of financial aid due to being involved in a university athletics program earn points for their retention in school and for being academically eligible. The points are combined and totaled, then divided by the team’s overall possible points. Once this is divided, the outcome is multiplied by 1,000 to equal the APR of the team.

Paul Pilkington, head coach of the cross-country team, said classroom success is more important than anything accomplished during races.

“That’s why they’re here,” Pilkington said, “to graduate.”

The WSU men’s cross-country team achieved a perfect score of 1,000 on the APR, signifying that each student athlete gained points for being academically eligible and for his own university attendance.

The NCAA also uses the APR to regulate outcomes for the different university athletic programs across the country. If a team does not earn an APR above certain limits, it faces possible penalties to its program, including scholarship reductions or restrictions.

The Wildcats were one of the five teams from Utah to receive the Public Recognition Award from the NCAA due to their overall APR. Along with WSU, 10 other school teams from the recently expanded Big Sky Conference received the Public Recognition Award.

The 11 teams earning the award marks a record for the conference, its previous best coming from the 2004-05 school year, when the NCAA introduced the APR program.

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