CHICAGO — Classroom performance netted the DePaul University women’s basketball team the national championship in the March Madness academic bracket published annually by Inside Higher Ed.
“We wanted to draw attention during March Madness to the teams that graduate their athletes and where their students succeed on and off the basketball court,” said co-editor Scott Jaschik.
Inside Higher Ed started its Academic Performance Tournament in 2005 for men’s basketball and presented the women’s edition in 2012 with the DePaul women’s team capturing the title. Last year, the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay was the national champion with DePaul second. But for 2014, the DePaul women’s team reclaimed the national title.
Inside Higher Ed takes the 64-team field of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament that was announced March 17 and advances teams based on their APR the NCAA’s multiyear measure of classroom progress and their NCAA graduation rate success.
Based on that formula, the Blue Demons topped Marist for the national academic title. It is the second time in three years that the DePaul women’s team has been recognized with the top academic program in the NCAA tournament field.
No. 7 seed DePaul (27-6) opens up NCAA play March 22 against No. 10 seed Oklahoma (18-14) at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C. The Blue Demons are the only team from Illinois — men or women — competing in the NCAA tournament. This is DePaul’s 12th consecutive invitation to the Big Dance.
“It feels great to once again win the academic national championship,” said DePaul women’s basketball coach Doug Bruno. “It’s something that has been a goal of ours, and I’m proud of being one of the nation’s top women’s basketball programs on the court and in the class room. At the same time, we are focused on doing well in the upcoming NCAA tournament.
“There are three reasons why we are again the national champion. First of all, our student-athletes buy into being competitive in every class. The second reason for our success is our Athletics Academic Advising office and specifically Jill Hollembeak. Jill is the best academic advisor in the country and a former world champion athlete and Division I head coach who understands everything that goes into academic success from every angle.
“Finally, it’s incumbent upon the head coach to set up a culture of academic competitiveness and accountability. This is another great opportunity to compete as student-athletes. Any coach who abdicates that responsibility and delegates it to someone else is simply using his or her student-athletes.”
For complete story and links to this year and past years’ brackets, visit Inside Higher Ed at http://bit.ly/1nB54Jl.