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The Official Site of the Northeast Conference


Saint Francis U Wins Record Fifth Northeast Conference Institutional Academic Award

NEC Student-Athletes Combine For 3.377 Overall GPA, Team GPA Award Winners Announced


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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.

58464Overall, 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 ( and digital network (, or follow the league on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and TikTok, all @NECsports.