WALTHAM, Mass – Three members of Brandeis University teams have been named to the University Athletic Association (UAA) President's Council Scholar-Athlete Team for their efforts on and off the fields and courts in 2018-19. To achieve this recognition, a student-athlete must earn first-team All-Association honors and must carry a 3.50 or greater cumulative grade point average during that playing season.
Recent graduate Julia Bryson of Quincy, Massachusetts, was honored for the women's track and field team for the second year in a row. Bryson was part of two UAA championship relays this year, winning the distance medley relay during the indoor season and the 4x800-meter relay in school-record time during the outdoor campaign. Bryson was also part of the NCAA Division III National Championship DMR relay team, earning her second All-America honor in the process.
Junior Scottie Todd of Tampa, Florida, was recognized for the softball team. Todd was named the UAA Pitcher of the Year after posting a 13-5 record with a 2.13 earned-run and 68 strikeouts. She was also a threat at the plate, tying for second in the league with six home runs while finishing among the top 10 in slugging and on-base percentages. Todd helped Brandeis reach the NCAA Division III tournament for the second time in program history, starting 15-0-1 and finishing with a 29-7-1 record. The Judges reached the Regional Finals in the NCAA tournament before rain washed out the championship bracket games.
Sophomore Lauren Bertsch of Middletown, Rhode Island, was honored for women's tennis. A member of the First-Team All-UAA doubles team, Bertsch posted a 13-8 record during the fall season along with recent graduate Olivia Leavitt of Falmouth, Maine. Bertsch helped the Judges post a 12-7 record during 2019, earning the program's first-ever NCAA Division III tournament berth. The Judges were ranked as high as #8 in the nation during the season and reached the Regional Finals of the NCAA tournament before falling to eventual national champion Wesleyan.
The Judges were three out of a record 116 recipients of the UAA President's Council Scholar-Athlete team. Out of this year's honorees, ten - including Todd - were named the most outstanding performer or most valuable player in their sport by their respective UAA coaches' group, six won NCAA Division III individual national championships and/or were named national Player of the Year, and five were awarded NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships. This select group of scholar-athletes represents approximately 43% of the eligible All-Association first-team honorees for 2017-18.
The UAA Presidents Council created this special recognition in 2009. The original recommendation to establish this honor came from the UAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and was supported by the Athletic Administrators and Delegates Committees.
The UAA has recognized exceptional academic achievement by its student-athletes since 1998 when the Presidents Council established a program of All-Academic recognition for student-athletes who carry a cumulative grade point average that meets the threshold for Google Cloud CoSIDA Academic All-America® recognition (currently a 3.30 GPA). On average, approximately 56% of eligible sophomore, junior, and senior student-athletes from UAA member teams have met that threshold each year. "While our student-athletes appreciated the All-Academic recognition, they sought something that would more directly recognize the combination of academic and athletic excellence that is at the core of the UAA philosophy," commented UAA Executive Director Dick Rasmussen. "In proposing the concept of the award, one of our SAAC members suggested — 'as UAA student-athletes this is what we do, this is who we are.'"
As a group, UAA student-athletes and teams have consistently demonstrated high levels of both academic and athletic achievement. The UAA Presidents Council Scholar-Athlete Team recognition demonstrates the success of these principles at the level of the individual student-athlete.
Biennial studies completed by the Association over the last 16 years have consistently shown the cumulative grade point averages of athletic teams have been statistically equal to the campus population GPA. In the most recent study, covering the 2014-15 academic year, UAA female student-athletes had an overall combined average cumulative GPA of 3.42, while UAA male student-athletes had an overall combined average cumulative GPA of 3.30. Of the 68 women's teams and 70 men's teams included in the study, 88 teams (64 percent) met or exceeded the existing 3.30 GPA standard for nominating individuals for Academic All-America® recognition.