Lincoln -- Husker student-athletes continued Nebraska’s rich tradition as a national academic leader in 2003-04. Nebraska’s academic success grew to almost staggering levels, as the Huskers brought home a nation-leading nine CoSIDA Academic All-America awards during the 2003-04 campaign to increase NU’s collegiate record total of CoSIDA Academic All-Americans to 217. Nebraska pushed its lead over second-place Notre Dame (156) to an amazing 61 academic All-America awards, after the Fighting Irish produced six academic All-Americans in 2003-04, which ranked as the second-highest total in the country.

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 146 academic all-conference selections across all sports. NU’s total was 31 more than second-place Iowa State. The Huskers also led the Big 12 with 115 first-team academic all-league honorees, which was 23 more than second-place Missouri’s total of 92.

Along with the Huskers leading the conference charge on the academic All-Big 12 teams, NU student-athletes earned a league-high 547 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, 56 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 18 at the 14th annual Student-Athlete Recognition Banquet. More than 800 people were in attendance at the Bob Devaney Sports Center to see 239 student-athletes honored during the banquet, including Male Student-Athlete-of-the-Year Judd Davies of the NU football team, and Female Student-Athlete-of-the-Year Ann Gaffigan from the Husker cross country and track and field teams. Davies, who became the 31st Husker football player to earn a prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship, also earned a Big 12 Postgraduate Scholarship and claimed second-team CoSIDA Academic All-America honors with a 3.88 GPA in pre-medicine and communication studies. Gaffigan, who earned All-America honors in the steeplechase before earning second-team academic All-America honors in the classroom, also carried a 3.88 GPA in computer science as a member of the J.D. Edwards Honors Program.

While Gaffigan was leading the women’s cross country team’s charge in the classroom, the men’s cross country team earned recognition of its own by claiming the 10th annual Herman Award by posting a collective grade-point average of 3.33 in 2003. The women’s gymnastics team performed at an even higher level in the classroom, posting a combined 3.579 team GPA.

The hard work, dedication and commitment of Nebraska’s student-athletes in the classroom resulted in 96 current or former student-athletes earning degrees following the fall and spring semesters.

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. It marked the fifth consecutive year that NU’s Exhausted Eligibility Rate has been on the rise.

Nebraska’s commitment to encouraging student-athletes to succeed off the field was honored on several occasions during the 2003-04 academic year. The National Consortium for Academics and Sport presented the University of Nebraska Athletic/Academic Center with two awards at its 2004 Giant Steps Awards Banquet in Orlanda, Fla., in February. NU earned the Degree Completion Award and the Highest Combined Award for Degree Completion and Community Outreach.

More recently, the Husker football program was one of just 30 teams honored nationwide by the American Football Coaches Association with its 2004 Academic Achievement Award in late June. Nebraska was recognized for graduating 70 percent or more of its football student-athletes from the freshman class of 1998-99. The Huskers’ graduation rate was 77 percent.

Academic All-Americans - Huskers Lead Nation
Nebraska student-athletes brought home a nation-leading nine CoSIDA Academic All-America awards during the 2003-04 campaign to increase Nebraska’s NCAA record total of CoSIDA Academic All-Americans to 217. Nebraska pushed its lead over second-place Notre Dame (156) to a staggering 61 academic All-America awards, after the Fighting Irish produced six academic All-Americans in 2003-04, which ranked as the second-highest total in the country.

Libby Landgraf (women’s gymnastics) and Tia DeSoto (women’s track and field) both earned first-team academic All-America honors to increase the Huskers’ nation’s-best total to 109 first-team honorees across all sports.

Judd Davies and Pat Ricketts both represented the Nebraska football team by earning second-team CoSIDA Academic All-America awards, while Dana Carne and Ann Gaffigan added second-team academic All-America honors for the track and field program. Husker volleyball player Anna Schrad earned second-team honors as well as a Big 12 Postgraduate Scholarship. NU wrestler Matt Murray rounded out Nebraska’s six second-team academic All-America award winners. Danny Hill of the Husker track and field team added NU’s lone third-team CoSIDA Academic All-America award.

Academic All-Big 12 Conference - Huskers Set Pace with 146 Honorees
While Nebraska’s CoSIDA Academic All-America award winners grab headlines, the Huskers also set the tone at the conference level with a league-leading 146 academic All-Big 12 honorees. Nebraska’s total was 31 more than second-place Iowa State’s 115. Missouri with 113 and Texas A&M with 101 were the only other schools with more than 100 student-athletes honored on academic all-conference teams in 2003-04.

Among the 146 NU student-athletes named to academic all-conference teams, 115 earned first-team academic All-Big 12 honors, which requires a 3.20 grade-point average or higher and a minimum participation requirement. Missouri ranked second in the conference with 92 first-team academic All-Big 12 selections, while Iowa State placed third with 85. Thirty-one 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 26 academic All-Big 12 selections in 2003, including 20 first-team award winners. No other Big 12 team was able to produce double-digits in first-team academic all-conference football players, and the Huskers’ overall total was 11 more than second-place Texas Tech’s 15.

Coach Barry Collier’s men’s basketball program also dominated the league’s academic team with six first-team All-Big 12 picks. No other conference school produced more than two first-team selections.

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 41 academic All-big 12 honorees. The men’s program led the conference with 17 first-team academic All-Big 12 picks among 24 total award winners, while the women added 17 academic all-league selections, including 15 first-team honorees.

Coach Mark Manning’s wrestling team also led the Big 12 with seven academic all-conference choices, including four first-team award winners. The Husker baseball team continued its excellence in the classroom with a league-leading nine academic All-Big 12 award winners, including five first-team all-league picks under Coach Mike Anderson. Coach Rhonda Revelle’s Big 12 champion Huskers also tied for the conference lead with six academic all-league selections, including a trio of first-team honorees.

Coach Dan Kendig’s women’s gymnastics program tied for the league lead with five first-team academic All-Big 12 performers, while Coach Scott Jacobson’s women’s tennis team led the conference with seven academic All-Big 12 players, including five first-team honorees. The women’s golf team under the direction of Coach Robin Krapfl also tied for the league lead with five first-team academic All-Big 12 golfers.

Coach Pablo Morales’ growing women’s swimming and diving program added eight academic All-Big 12 selections, including seven first-team picks, while Coach Jay Dirksen’s women’s cross country team contributed six first-team academic all-league runners. The men’s cross country team added three first-team selections. The women’s soccer and volleyball teams each pitched in five first-team All-Big 12 honorees, while the men’s tennis team notched three selections, including one first-team all-league choice. The women’s basketball team rounded out the list with a pair of first-team All-Big 12 choices.

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 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. It marked the fifth consecutive year that NU’s Exhausted Eligibility Rate has been on the rise.

The football team was one of just 30 teams honored nationwide by the American Football Coaches Association with its 2004 Academic Achievement Award in late June. Nebraska was recognized for graduating 70 percent or more of its football student-athletes from the freshman class of 1998-99. The Huskers’ graduation rate was 77 percent. NU’s football graduation rate has led the Big 12 four times in the conference’s eight seasons.

Nebraska’s commitment to encouraging student-athletes to succeed off the field was honored on several occasions during the 2003-04 academic year. The National Consortium for Academics and Sport presented the University of Nebraska Athletic/Academic Center with two awards at its 2004 Giant Steps Awards Banquet in Orlanda, 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 2003-04. Cornerstone outreach programs included the statewide Tour of Excellence, American Education Week, "School is Cool" Week and the Husker E-Mail Literacy Program. In addition to those programs, individual student-athletes continued to make countless appearances in classrooms and community groups throughout the year.

The 2003-04 season also marked the debut 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 Connie Yori’s women’s basketball team captured the inaugural award, which was presented by Kansas City Chiefs All-Pro offensive lineman and NFL Man of the Year Will Shields at Nebraska’s Student-Athlete Recognition Banquet in April.