Lincoln - Husker student-athletes continued the University of Nebraska’s growing tradition as a national academic leader in 2004-05. Nebraska’s academic success continued to elevate to new heights, as the Huskers brought home five CoSIDA Academic All-America awards during the 2004-05 campaign to increase NU’s collegiate record total of CoSIDA Academic All-Americans to 222, a total of 60 more than the second-place school on the list.

Not only did the Huskers lead the nation in CoSIDA Academic All-Americans, Nebraska continued to set the pace in the Big 12 Conference with a league-leading 139 academic all-conference selections across all sports, including a Big 12-leading 113 first-team academic all-league honorees.

Along with the Huskers leading the conference charge on the academic All-Big 12 teams, NU student-athletes earned a league-high 531 spots on the Big 12 Commissioner’s Fall and Spring Academic Honor Rolls. To earn a spot on the honor roll, a student-athlete must earn a 3.0 grade-point average during the semester. During the fall and spring semesters combined, 65 Husker student-athletes produced perfect 4.0 semester GPAs.

The University of Nebraska Athletic Department took one special night to honor its own student-athletes on April 17 at the 15th annual Student-Athlete Recognition Banquet. More than 700 people were in attendance at the Bob Devaney Sports Center to see 200 student-athletes honored during the banquet, including Male Student-Athlete-of-the-Year Daniel Bruce from the Husker baseball team and Female Student-Athlete-of-the-Year Richelle Simpson from the Husker women’s gymnastics program.

Bruce, who earned NCAA and Big 12 Postgraduate Scholarships and second-team CoSIDA All-America honors with a 3.86 GPA as an English major, also helped the Nebraska baseball team to its best season in school history on the field. Bruce was a major contributor to Nebraska’s run to Big 12 regular-season and tournament titles along with the school’s third trip to the College World Series in the past five years.

Simpson joined Bruce in winning a Big 12 Postgraduate Scholarship and second-team CoSIDA Academic All-America honors with a 3.82 GPA in international studies and French. Most recently, Simpson was named the Big 12 Female Sportsperson of the Year, recognizing her contributions in the gym, in the classroom and in the community. Simpson added a prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship, while also being nominated for the NCAA Top Eight Award. One of the most decorated female gymnasts in school history, Simpson was a nine-time All-American and won NCAA individual titles in the all-around and floor exercise in 2003. After sitting out with an injury in 2004, Simpson returned for her senior year to win the Big 12 all-around title for the second time in her career, before capturing NCAA South Central Region Co-Gymnast-of-the-Year honors. Unfortunately, Simpson was injured at the NCAA South Central Regional meet and was unable to compete at nationals. However, her leadership helped Nebraska reach the NCAA Super Six Finals and she was honored as the Huskers’ first-ever recipient of the AAI American Award, one of the top honors in collegiate gymnastics.

Senior linebacker Chad Sievers also produced major academic highlights in 2004-05 for the Nebraska football team. Sievers graduated with a perfect 4.0 GPA on his way to first-team CoSIDA Academic All-America honors. He also joined Simpson in receiving a prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship.

While Bruce and Simpson captured the athletic depatment’s highest individual academic honors, Coach Scott Jacobson’s women’s tennis team earned the department’s most coveted team award by capturing the 11th annual Herman Award. The women’s tennis squad, which also enjoyed its finest season in school history on the court by qualifying for its first-ever NCAA Tournament, produced a stellar 3.436 team GPA. The women's tennis squad featured first-team All-Big 12 player Gitte Ostermann, who also earned a prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship worth $7,500. The men’s cross country team earned the Herman Award on the men’s side with a 3.196 combined GPA in 2004.

The hard work, dedication and commitment of Nebraska’s student-athletes in the classroom resulted in 108 current or former student-athletes earning degrees from August of 2004 through May of 2005.

In fact, the Husker football team continued to set the graduation standard among Big 12 Conference schools by increasing its Exhausted Eligibility Graduation Rate to 91 percent. The Exhausted Eligibility Rate surveys the graduation rate of scholarship student-athletes who entered the University of Nebraska from 1988 through 1997 and exhausted their athletic eligibility at Nebraska.

Nebraska’s commitment to encouraging student-athletes to succeed off the field was honored on several occasions during the 2004-05 academic year. The National Consortium for Academics and Sport presented the University of Nebraska Athletic/Academic Center with two awards at its 2005 Giant Steps Awards Banquet in Orlando, Fla., in February. NU earned the Degree Completion Award and the Highest Combined Award for Degree Completion and Community Outreach.

Most recently, the Husker football program was one of just 25 teams honored nationwide by the American Football Coaches Association with its 2005 Academic Achievement Award in late June. Nebraska, which has earned the AFCA award five straight seasons, was recognized for graduating 70 percent or more of its football student-athletes from the freshman class of 1999-2000. The Huskers’ graduation rate was 88 percent.

Academic All-Americans - Huskers Add Five Honorees to Increase All-Time Total to Record 222
Nebraska student-athletes brought home five CoSIDA Academic All-America awards during the 2004-05 campaign to increase Nebraska’s NCAA record total of CoSIDA Academic All-Americans to 222. Nebraska maintained its lead over second-place Notre Dame by a staggering 60 academic All-America awards.

Chad Sievers (football), who maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA during his career at Nebraska, led the NU contingent by earning first-team CoSIDA Academic All-America honors. Richelle Simpson (women’s gymnastics), Daniel Bruce (baseball) and Kellen Huston (football) added second-team honors, while Matt Murray (wrestling) contributed third-team accolades. The Huskers continue to lead the nation with 110 first-team honorees across all sports.

Nebraska’s five CoSIDA Academic All-Americans led the Big 12 Conference, and NU was one of only four league schools to produce more than two CoSIDA Academic All-Americans in 2004-05.

Academic All-Big 12 Conference - Huskers Set Pace with 139 Honorees
While Nebraska’s 222 CoSIDA Academic All-America award winners all-time grab headlines, the Huskers also set the tone at the conference level with a league-leading 139 academic All-Big 12 honorees. Nebraska was one of five Big 12 schools to each have more than 100 student-athletes honored on academic all-conference teams in 2004-05. Overall, the Nebraska athletic program led the Big 12 with 531 student-athletes honored on the Big 12 Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll during the fall and spring semesters combined, including 65 student-athletes who posted perfect 4.0 GPA semesters in either the fall or spring.

Among the 139 NU student-athletes named to academic all-conference teams, 113 earned first-team academic All-Big 12 honors, which requires a 3.20 grade-point average or higher and a minimum participation requirement. Missouri was the only other school in the conference to put more than 100 student-athletes on various first-team academic all-conference teams. Twenty-six other Husker student-athletes grabbed second-team honors by posting a GPA between 3.0 and 3.19.

The Nebraska football team led the way with 27 academic All-Big 12 selections in 2004, including 21 first-team award winners. No other Big 12 team was able to produce more than 16 total academic All-Big 12 honorees, and NU was the only institution to have more than 11 first-team academic All-Big 12 football players.

The Husker men’s and women’s track and field program under the direction of Coach Gary Pepin produced outstanding results in the classroom with a total of 35 academic All-Big 12 honorees. The men’s program tied for the conference lead with 18 academic All-Big 12 picks, while the women added 17 awards.

Coach Barry Collier’s men’s basketball program also dominated the league’s academic team with five first-team All-Big 12 picks. No other conference school produced more than two first-team selections. In fact, over the past two seasons combined, NU’s men’s basketball team has produced a league-leading 11 first-team academic All-Big 12 picks. Kansas ranks second among league schools with four first-team selections over the past two years, while the other 10 conference schools have combined to produce just 11 first-team All-Big 12 honorees.

Coach John Cook’s Big 12 champion volleyball program also led the conference in the classroom with seven academic All-Big 12 selections, including a league-leading six first-team honorees. The Big 12 champion Nebraska women’s gymnastics team, under the direction of Coach Dan Kendig, also led the league with four first-team All-Big 12 selections, while Coach Robin Krapfl’s women’s golf team also dominated the league honor squad with six first-team academic all-conference picks.

Coach Pablo Morales’ growing women’s swimming and diving program added 14 academic All-Big 12 selections, including 10 first-team picks, nearly doubling its total from the previous season. Coach Jay Dirksen’s women’s cross country team also contributed six first-team academic all-league runners.

Graduation and Beyond - Huskers Again Among National Leaders in Graduation Rates
The Husker football team continued to set the graduation standard among Big 12 Conference schools with an impressive Exhausted Eligibility Graduation Rate of 91 percent. The Exhausted Eligibility Rate surveys the graduation rate of scholarship student-athletes who entered the University of Nebraska from 1988 through 1997 and exhausted their athletic eligibility at Nebraska.

The football team was one of just 25 teams honored nationwide by the American Football Coaches Association with its 2005 Academic Achievement Award in late June. Nebraska was recognized for the fifth consecutive season for graduating 70 percent or more of its football student-athletes from the freshman class of 1999-2000. The Huskers’ graduation rate was 88 percent, which likely ranked among the top 10 schools in the nation, and represented an 11 percent increase from the previous season.

Nebraska’s commitment to encouraging student-athletes to succeed off the field was honored on several occasions during the 2004-05 academic year. The National Consortium for Academics and Sport presented the University of Nebraska Athletic/Academic Center with two awards at its 2005 Giant Steps Awards Banquet in Orlando, Fla., in February. NU earned the Degree Completion Award and the Highest Combined Award for Degree Completion and Community Outreach.

In the community, Husker student-athletes reached nearly 70,000 people throughout the state of Nebraska in 2004-05. Cornerstone outreach programs included the statewide Tour of Excellence, American Education Week and "School is Cool" Week. In addition to those programs, individual student-athletes continued to make countless appearances in classrooms and community groups throughout the year.

The 2004-05 season marked the second year of the Huskers’ innovative Life Skills Award of Excellence Team Competition, which honored the team that demonstrated the strongest commitment to all phases of the life skills program, including outreach, education and leadership. Coach Bill Callahan and the Nebraska football team captured the team trophy, which was presented at Nebraska’s Student-Athlete Academic Recognition Banquet in April.

2004-05 Academic Highlights

  • 222 All-Time CoSIDA Academic All-Americans across all sports [leads nation]
  • 5 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans [Chad Sievers, Kellen Huston, Richelle Simpson, Daniel Bruce, Matt Murray]
  • 139 Academic All-Big 12 Selections Across All Sports [led Big 12]
  • 113 First-Team Academic All-Big 12 Picks Across All Sports [led Big 12] [3.2 GPA or above]
  • 531 Student-Athletes Honored on Big 12 Commissioner’s Fall and Spring Honor Rolls [3.0 GPA or above]
  • 65 Student-Athletes Earned Perfect 4.0 GPAs in either the Fall or Spring Semester [led Big 12]
  • 108 Student-Athletes Earned Degrees from August 2004 through May 2005 [Record 60 in May, 28 in December, 20 in August]
  • 91 percent - Exhausted Eligibility Rate [1988-1997]
  • 88 percent - Football graduation rate for 1999-2000 freshman class [2005 AFCA Academic Achievement Award]
  • Big 12 Female Sportsperson of the Year - Richelle Simpson [Women’s Gymnastics]
  • NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships - Richelle Simpson [Women’s Gymnastics], Chad Sievers [Football]
  • Big 12 Postgraduate Scholarships - Richelle Simpson [Women’s Gymnastics], Daniel Bruce [Baseball]
  • NCAA Top Eight Award Nominee - Richelle Simpson [Women’s Gymnastics]
  • Male Student-Athlete of the Year - Daniel Bruce, Baseball [3.86 GPA in English]
  • Female Student-Athlete of the Year - Richelle Simpson [3.82 GPA, French/International Studies]
  • Men’s Herman Award Winner - Men’s Cross Country Team [3.196 Cumulative GPA in 2004]
  • Women’s Herman Award Winner - Women’s Tennis Team [3.436 Cumulative GPA in 2004]