The Walter Harrison Academic Cup will remain with the University of Hartford Department of Athletics, the America East announced on Tuesday. Combining for a grade-point average of 3.37—the highest GPA ever for an America East institution—the Hawks continued their dominance in the classroom by winning the Academic Cup for the second-straight year and for the seventh time overall.
"Winning the Academic Cup for the sixth time in seven years is a result of the University of Hartford's strong tradition of a team approach to promoting student-athlete welfare, and I am so proud of our accomplishment," said Director of Athletics Mary Ellen Gillespie
. "A well-deserved congratulations is due to our student-athletes, whose hard work and dedication in the classroom has kept the Academic Cup in Hartford."
Established by the America East Board of Directors in 1995, the Walter Harrison Academic Cup, which was renamed in honor of University of Hartford President Emeritus Walter Harrison in 2017, is presented to the institution whose student-athletes post the highest GPA during that academic year.
Hartford won its initial Academic Cup in 1997, received the award each year from 2012–15, and captured the honor again the past two years.
"Our gifted student-athletes continue to amaze me with their academic achievements while simultaneously competing at high levels on the field, court, and track," said Amanda Devitt
, senior associate AD for student-athlete services and success. "Winning the Walter Harrison Academic Cup requires a village of support, which begins with University of Hartford President Dr. Gregory Woodward, Director of Athletics Mary Ellen Gillespie,
and Faculty Athletics Representative Dr. Catherine Certo
The Hawks' record-breaking 3.37 GPA edged New Hampshire, which calculated a 3.35 mark. Vermont (3.26) posted the third-highest GPA among America East schools, while Binghamton (3.22) and UAlbany (3.21) rounded out the top five.
A conference-leading eight of Hartford's 15 America East-sponsored athletic programs recorded the highest GPA among their peers. Highlighting that list is the Hawks women's soccer program, which posted the highest GPA among any America East team with a 3.69 mark.
Baseball (3.29), men's basketball (3.44), women's cross country (3.68), softball (3.53), women's indoor track and field (3.61), women's outdoor track and field (3.61), and volleyball (3.66) joined women's soccer in leading the America East in their respective sport for team GPA.
Hartford's men's and women's golf teams also both had strong semesters in the classroom, but those GPAs were not counted toward the Academic Cup, as the teams compete in the Big Sky and MAAC, respectively. Most impressively, each of Hartford's 17 programs achieved at least a 3.0 team GPA during the past academic year, as the Hawks have hit that mark in 24 consecutive semesters.
"Our student-athletes continue to be outstanding representatives of our great University," Gillespie added. "Credit is also due to our coaches who recruit quality student-athletes and emphasize academic success; our academic staff, who help our student-athletes balance their academic and athletic pursuits; and our faculty and staff, who ensure that our student-athletes succeed academically."
As a conference, America East student-athletes are coming off a tremendous year in the classroom, with each of the nine institutions averaging better than a 3.0 GPA. The league's student-athletes averaged a 3.22 overall GPA in 2017–18, which is a four-point increase, up from a 3.18 in 2016–17, and the highest single-year mark in league history. This year marks the sixth straight year a new standard has been set.
In addition, America East student-athletes have averaged better than a 3.0 GPA for 23 consecutive years.