OGDEN, Utah — The Big Sky Conference Presidents’ Cup winner for the 2017-18 school year is the Eagles of Eastern Washington University, the league announced Wednesday.
In its 16th year, the Presidents’ Cup promotes the Big Sky’s commitment to academics and recognizes a member school’s overall success both in the classroom and in competition.
The Presidents’ Cup is awarded annually to the program that succeeds both academically and athletically, as measured by a variety of categories. Regular-season team standings in eight of the league’s 14 sports make up the athletic tier of the Presidents’ Cup criteria. Points are also awarded in men’s and women’s cross country, indoor and outdoor track & field and golf by virtue of finish at the Big Sky championship. Teams are ranked according to average points per sport.
On the other side, the academic tier measures the academic progress rate (APR) from the previous year and each team’s grade point average (GPA) in Big Sky sponsored sports for the current year
With the win, Eastern Washington captured its fourth overall Presidents’ Cup, and its third in four years. This year’s win puts the Eagles in a tie with Weber State for the most Cup wins in conference history since the award was established in 2002-03. The Eagles placed fifth overall in the athletic standings, winning the soccer regular season and tournament championships. Men’s and women’s basketball, football, and women’s tennis all tied for third in their sport standings.
“I would like to congratulate Eastern Washington’s student-athletes and the university’s leadership, administrators and coaches on their third Presidents’ Cup victory in four years,” said Big Sky Commissioner Andrea Williams. “To earn an award like this takes team effort, and the Eagles were able to find success at the highest levels both academically and athletically to be able to bring this Cup back to their campus.”
However, it was Eastern Washington’s performance in the classroom that helped the Eagles secure the Presidents’ Cup victory. Eastern Washington led all institutions in grade point average with a school GPA of 3.42. Every Eagle squad recorded a 3.0 or higher – the only Big Sky school to do so. Eastern Washington also had six teams register a GPA of 3.5 or higher, while women’s cross country recorded the highest mark of 3.71. In addition, the Eagles had the second-best Academic Progress Rate in the conference, posting a 985 for the 2016-17 academic year.
“We are thrilled to win the Presidents’ Cup for the third time in four years,” said Eastern Washington Director of Athletics Lynn Hickey. “This honor reinforces our focus of combining academic success with athletic accomplishments. Dr. Cullinan, our administration, staff, coaches and student-athletes deserve so much credit and I applaud them for their hard work on behalf of EWU.”
Coming in second place in the Presidents’ Cup standings was Northern Colorado. The Bears had the third-highest APR (981) and GPA (3.28). Twelve Northern Colorado teams registered a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
The Weber State Wildcats finished third overall in the Presidents’ Cup standings with a big boost from its athletic points that saw them come in second in the category.
The leader in athletic points was Northern Arizona the All-Sports Trophy winners. The ‘Jacks won seven conference championships last season, including men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s indoor track & field, women’s tennis and men’s and women’s outdoor track & field. Weber State and Sacramento State finished second and third, respectively, to round out the top-three schools in the athletic standings.
Coming in after Eastern Washington in GPA was Montana State (3.33) and Northern Colorado (3.28). Idaho State had the best APR amongst all schools with a score of 990, followed by Eastern Washington (985) and Northern Colorado (981).
The Weber State women’s golf team recorded the highest overall team GPA in the Big Sky Conference at 3.72. Eastern Washington men’s basketball had the highest GPA amongst all men’s sports teams with a 3.55.
For the second straight year, the league saw 113 teams record a GPA of 3.0 or more. All 11 Big Sky full members recorded a GPA of at least 3.0, continuing the Big Sky’s tradition of academic excellence.
“We have an extraordinary group of student-athletes at our institutions, who understand that succeeding in the classroom is just as important as winning in their sport,” Williams said.
The Presidents’ Cup Trophy will be showcased on the campus of Eastern Washington University, for the next year.
Past Presidents’ Cup Winners
2002-03 Weber State
2003-04 Weber State
2004-05 Montana State
2005-06 Northern Arizona
2007-08 Weber State
2008-09 Weber State
2009-10 Eastern Washington
2011-12 Montana State
2012-13 Northern Arizona
2013-14 Northern Arizona
2014-15 Eastern Washington
2015-16 Eastern Washington
2016-17 North Dakota
2017-18 Eastern Washington