The University of Northern Iowa women's volleyball team earned the American Volleyball Coaches Association Team Academic Award.
UNI is one of 535 teams to claim the award for the 2011-12 season, as announced by the AVCA. This number once again breaks the previous year's total of 481 and sets a new all-time high for this award.
The award, which was initiated in the 1992-93 academic year, honors collegiate and high school volleyball teams that displayed excellence in the classroom during the school year by maintaining at least a 3.30 cumulative team grade-point average on a 4.0 scale or a 4.10 cumulative team GPA on a 5.0 scale.
"Many coaches tell us they take more pride in and hear more positive feedback about winning the AVCA Team Academic Award than anything else they do all year," said AVCA Executive Director Kathy DeBoer. "While it is undeniable that the sport we coach is zero-sum on the scoreboard, it is a tool for empowerment on other fronts. The 533 coaches whose teams won this academic award understand the value of both playing to win and winning through play. A well-deserved congratulations to each team and coach!"
The Team Academic Award has become one of the AVCA's fastest growing awards programs, seeing an impressive surge in teams honored over the past several years. Since the 2000-2001 season, the number of recipients has increased every single year but one, while amassing an overall 200% increase over the span of the last decade. Since the award's inception in 1993, the award has risen by an astounding 760%. NCAA Division I recorded their highest-ever total number of recipients, honoring 103 programs while Division II easily surpassed last year's record of 57 winners with 69 this year. Division III also set a new record with 90 winners and the high school division increased their all-time high of 192 recipients to 220. Finally, the NCAA men broke new ground landing a record seven schools on the final AVCA Team Academic Award list.