WKU athletics make up 5 percent of C-USA honor roll

Western Kentucky University linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe (4) celebrates after sacking the Louisiana Tech quarterback during the Hilltoppers’ 22-23 loss to Louisiana Tech University on Saturday September 16, 2017 in Houchens-Smith Stadium. 

Tyler Eaton

Conference USA released its Commissioner’s Honor Roll list this past Thursday, and it included 140 student-athletes from WKU.

Across the conference, 2,824 student-athletes were named to the list, with the requirement being a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better.

The 140 Hilltoppers that received the honor gave WKU just under five percent of the list. Old Dominion led the way with 286 student-athletes on the list.

“We are very proud of our academic success and truly believe in the term student-athlete,” WKU athletics director Todd Stewart said in a statement. “Our cumulative grade point average is a 3.0 and student-athletes graduate at a higher rate than the general student body while participating in over 40 different academic majors. It is a true testament to the hard work and effort of our 140 student-athletes honored by Conference USA, including 41 who received Academic Medals from the league office.”

Among those honored from WKU, a combined 46 were from the baseball and football teams. First team C-USA selection and WKU football team captain Joel Iyiegbuniwe was one of those to make the list. Iyiegbuniwe was joined by C-USA all-freshman and all-academic team selection Tyler Witt.

From the baseball team, seniors Benjamin Morrison and Devon Loomis were each selected. Redshirt junior Jacob Rhinesmith was also named on the list, as well as hometown freshman Luke Brown, who went to Bowling Green High School.

Four members of WKU’s men’s basketball team made the list, including freshman Taveion Hollingsworth. They were joined by five members each from the men’s cross country team, as well as two members of the men’s track and field team.

Seventy-eight of WKU’s women’s student-athletes received the distinction. For the women, eight different sports had at least four athletes represented, with the soccer team leading the way with 17 on the list.

Among those named, sophomore Chandler Backes and senior goalkeeper Allison Leone were two of the 17 from the soccer team. Freshman Avery Jacobsen was also a Lady Topper on the list.

Nine members of WKU’s women’s basketball team were named to the list, including all-conference performers Tashia and Ivy Brown. Tashia Brown was named this season’s C-USA player of the year.

Fourteen members of WKU’s conference championship volleyball team were named to the list, including AVCA Third-Team All-American Alyssa Cavanaugh and Senior CLASS Award First-Team All-American Jessica Lucas.

Four members of the women’s cross country team were selected, as well as eight from the women’s golf team, 13 from the softball team, seven from women’s tennis and six from women’s track and field.

Of the 140 named to the Honor Roll, 41 also received the Commissioner’s Academic Medal for maintaining a cumulative GPA or 3.75 or better. A total of 708 student-athletes received the award in the conference.

The soccer team led the way once again with seven members of the team to earn the award. Seniors Hannah Chua of the soccer team and Morgan McIntyre of the women’s track and field were two of those to be awarded.

Freshman Marek Nelson was the lone member of the WKU men’s basketball team to receive the medal, and he was joined by four members of the football team, three from the baseball team, two from cross country and three from the men’s golf team.

Sophomore Mary Joiner, who has already recorded two victories on the season for WKU’s women’s golf team, was one of those who received the Commissioner’s Medal. It was also announced on Friday that Joiner has been named to the C-USA women’s golf all-academic team.

One of five women to be named to the all-academic team, Joiner is majoring in finance and currently has a 3.85 GPA.

One hundred WKU student-athletes have received their diplomas from WKU in the past calendar year. Forty-six of the 100 graduated last May, 18 finished their schooling over the summer and another 35 received their degrees in December. Among the graduates, their cumulative GPA was 3.06.

Sports reporter Tyler Eaton can be reached at 270-776-6797 and [email protected].