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Somerset, NJ --
Faced with a most unusual year, Northeast Conference (NEC) student-athletes didn’t miss a beat in the classroom.
In setting a new conference record with its fifth NEC Institutional Academic Award, Saint Francis U posted a 3.482 grade point average across its 21 sports for the second straight year. The GPA tied for the second-highest mark in league history as the Red Flash have now compiled two of the top three single-year GPAs of all time behind the record 3.489 recorded by LIU in 2019-20. SFU edged out Merrimack, which finished with a 3.464 GPA. LIU (3.440), Sacred Heart (3.429) and Bryant (3.408) followed in that order to round out the top-five.
Overall, the NEC’s 5,000+ student-athletes combined for a 3.377 GPA, a figure that ranks second in league history. The high-water mark was established in 2019-20 with a 3.404 combined GPA.
Remarkably, 98.2 percent of NEC women’s teams (112-of-114) posted at least a 3.0 GPA and 90.2 percent of all conference teams (184-of-204) cracked the 3.0 mark.
“NEC student-athletes continue to rise to the challenge in all facets of student-life and what they were able to accomplish in their studies this past year in the face of so many obstacles was awe-inspiring,” said NEC Commissioner Noreen Morris. “When you see Saint Francis University post a near-record GPA to win the coveted NEC Institutional Academic Award, it illustrates the dedication and commitment of the entire Red Flash campus community to work together toward a shared goal of academic and athletic excellence. Likewise, the high academic achievement we saw around the conference this past year was only possible due to the teamwork and tireless support from coaches, administrators, faculty and Presidents who were so invested in the success of their student-athletes.”
SFU finished second in the NEC Institutional Academic Award standings in 2019-20, and has finished in the top-three in each of the last seven years. The Red Flash had last won the award in 2017-18 and also captured it three straight years from 2008-11.
“This is truly a tremendous accomplishment for not only our athletic department but the entire institution,” said Saint Francis U Director of Athletics James Downer. “During a year marked by disruption and uncertainty, it is a testament to the resolve and dedication of our student-athletes to achieve this academic notoriety. We are beyond proud of our student-athletes, they continually prove themselves as true scholar-athletes.”
At year’s end, 20-of-21 SFU teams that competed in NEC sponsored sports posted at least a 3.0 GPA and 12 compiled a 3.5 or better GPA on the year.
“We are proud of the accomplishments of our student athletes,” said SFU President Fr. Malachi Van Tassell. “Earning the highest GPA among the member schools is a fine accolade and testament to our students’ academic discipline. My gratitude to coaches, staff, and faculty who support our students in the classroom and on the playing field.”
The Institutional Academic Award is presented annually to the NEC member who attains the highest overall institutional grade-point average amongst student-athletes competing in sports sponsored by the NCAA Division I conference. The NEC currently sponsors 24 sports: baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, women’s bowling, men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track and field, men’s and women’s soccer, softball, men’s and women’s swimming, men’s and women’s tennis and women’s volleyball.
2020-21 School-By-School GPAs
School NEC Sports Overall GPA
Bryant 22 3.408
Central Connecticut 16 3.147
Fairleigh Dickinson 18 3.366
LIU 23 3.440
Merrimack 21 3.464
Mount St. Mary’s 21 3.224
Sacred Heart 23 3.429
St. Francis Brooklyn 18 3.389
Saint Francis U 21 3.482
Wagner 21 3.355
The NEC also recognized those teams that compiled the highest GPA in their respective sports. LIU claimed an NEC-best six Team GPA awards, while Merrimack pocketed five and Wagner collected three honors.
NEC women’s golf student-athletes posted the highest overall grades of any sport in the Conference, combining for a 3.596 GPA. The 3.900 grade point average compiled by the Fairleigh Dickinson women’s golf team was the highest in any sport this past academic year, edging out the 3.839 GPA recorded by the St. Francis Brooklyn men’s golf team.
2020-21 NEC Team GPA Awards
Sport School GPA
Baseball Merrimack 3.460
Men’s Basketball Merrimack 3.158
Men’s Cross Country CCSU 3.590
Football LIU 3.260
Men’s Golf St. Francis Brooklyn 3.839
Men’s Lacrosse Merrimack 3.430
Men’s Soccer Merrimack 3.568
Men’s Swimming & Diving LIU 3.400
Men’s Tennis Saint Francis U 3.748
Men’s Indoor Track & Field Wagner 3.400
Men’s Outdoor Track & Field Wagner 3.400
Women’s Basketball St. Francis Brooklyn 3.635
Women’s Bowling Sacred Heart 3.700
Women’s Cross Country LIU 3.650
Field Hockey Saint Francis U 3.654
Women’s Golf Fairleigh Dickinson 3.900
Women’s Lacrosse LIU 3.690
Women’s Soccer Wagner 3.680
Softball Mount St. Mary’s 3.717
Women’s Swimming & Diving LIU 3.690
Women’s Tennis Merrimack 3.677
Women’s Indoor Track & Field Bryant 3.555
Women’s Outdoor Track & Field Bryant 3.555
Women’s Volleyball LIU 3.685
NEC Institutional Academic Award Winners
Year School GPA
2020-21 Saint Francis U 3.482
2019-20 LIU 3.489
2018-19 Robert Morris 3.432
2017-18 Saint Francis U 3.423
2016-17 Sacred Heart 3.381
2015-16 Sacred Heart 3.331
2014-15 Sacred Heart/Wagner 3.279
2013-14 Robert Morris 3.295
2012-13 Wagner 3.305
2011-12 Robert Morris 3.279
2010-11 Saint Francis U 3.270
2009-10 Fairleigh Dickinson/Saint Francis U 3.239
2008-09 Saint Francis U 3.234
2007-08 Wagner 3.186
2006-07 Wagner 3.147
About The Northeast Conference
Now in its 40th anniversary season, the Northeast Conference is an NCAA Division I collegiate athletic association consisting of 10 institutions of higher learning located throughout seven states. Media coverage of the NEC extends to a number of the largest markets in the United States - New York (#1), Boston (#9), Baltimore (#26), Hartford/New Haven (#33) and Providence (#53). Founded in 1981 as the basketball-only ECAC Metro Conference, the NEC has grown to sponsor 24 championship sports for men and women and now enjoys automatic access to 16 different NCAA Championships. NEC member institutions include Bryant, Central Connecticut, Fairleigh Dickinson, LIU, Merrimack, Mount St. Mary’s, Sacred Heart, St. Francis Brooklyn, Saint Francis U and Wagner. For more information on the NEC, visit the league’s official website (www.northeastconference.org) and digital network (www.necfrontrow.com), or follow the league on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and TikTok, all @NECsports.