WSU puts STUDENT in 'student-athlete'

NEWS LAST WEEK THAT three Cougar basketballers -- Robbie Cowgill, Daven Harmeling and Aron Baynes -- landed on the Pac-10 All-Academic first team is just the latest evidence of the quiet revolution underway in recent years inside the Washington State athletic department. A recent NCAA report puts WSU and Stanford among the Pac-10's elite when it comes to the academics of its athletes.

Hints of WSU's classroom prowess have been apparent over the last two school years:

* 224 Cougs earned Pac-10 All-Academic honors in the last two years.
* Entering the 2006-07 academic year, the cumulative GPA for WSU's student-athletes was over 3.0.

Now comes an NCAA graduation report, covering the last 10 years, that shows 92 percent of WSU's scholarship athletes who exhausted their eligibility graduated. That's the second-highest rate of success in the Pac-10 behind Stanford (97 percent).

Driving the Cougars' classroom prowess is the sport with the greatest number of athletes: Football.

Like the school as a whole, WSU's graduation rate for football players is No. 2 in the conference. Stanford is No. 1.

In addition, WSU is one of only three Pac-10 schools graduating football players at a higher rate than all university males.

Some other notable facts coming out of the report include:

* WSU is the only Pac-10 school that graduates male student-athletes at a higher rate than all university male students;
* WSU in No. 2 in the conference behind Stanford in the graduation rate of African-American student-athletes.

"Our vision is to provide one of the best student-athlete experiences in the nation, and these rankings demonstrate that we are making great progress in achieving this vision," says WSU Athletic Director Sterk said.

NOTABLE:

Of the two biggest sports at Washington State, football and men's basketball, the Cougs have been well-represented on the most recent Pac-10 All-Academic teams.

In football, quarterback Alex Brink was named first-team last fall, with center Kenny Alfred, tight end Jed Collins, wide receiver Brandon Gibson and kicker Loren Langley earning honorable mention honors. Brink maintains a 3.54 grade point average in sport management while studying in the honors program. Still others, like Alex Hamill, who maintains a 3.65 GPA, were honored at halftime of a Cougar Basketball game for academic excellence by the NCAA.

In basketball, Cowgill, Harmeling and Baynes were last week named to the Pac-10 All-Academic first team, marking the first time in school history the Cougars have earned three spots on the five-member first ream. Cowgill, an honors program student named first-team for the second straight year, carries a 3.35 grade point average in management options. Harmeling is a health and fitness major with a 3.49 grade point average, and Baynes is undeclared on a major with a 3.26 grade point average.

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