National Champions Trojans Lead Nation in Capital One Academic All-Americans

By Jim Garringer Published: Aug 23, 2012

Senior guard Casey Coons

It wasn’t a typical national championship. Taylor University’s Trojans did not cut down nets or douse a coach with Gatorade. Neither were there team photos championship rings or medals. Yet the accomplishment fulfills the goal of every intercollegiate athletic program.

Twenty Taylor student-athletes earned prestigious Capital One Academic All-America awards during the 2011-12 school year. It was the most of any school at any level in the United States – more than traditional academic powerhouses such as Harvard, Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Capital One Academic All-America student athletes must be a varsity starter or key reserve, maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.30 on a scale of 4.00, and have reached sophomore athletic and academic standings at his/her current institution. 

Returning senior guard Casey Coons was honored as the Academic All-America of the Year for the men's basketball college division – Capital One’s highest honor for a student athlete. Coons is now on the ballot, along with Stanford's Andrew Luck and North Carolina's Tyler Zeller, for consideration as the Capital One Academic All-America of the Year.

“You learn time management,” said Coons, a physical education major from Indianapolis, Ind. “As a college student, you want to be able to go out with your friends and do the extracurricular activities, but you also have to put in the time to be an athlete and succeed academically. It is like a delayed reward. You put in the work now and see the reward later.”

“School comes first. If we don't stay academically eligible we can lose playing time or scholarships, but even more than that we can jeopardize our goals for the future,” said senior softball player Sarah Heath, another Capital One honoree and social studies education major from Milan, Mich.

“Taylor University is really good about stressing the importance of developing a whole person,” Heath continued. “Taylor is first and foremost an academic institution with great professors who really care about knowing and helping students succeed …  Colossians 3:23 says: ‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.’ I think that verse is the reason so many Taylor athletes also excel in the classroom. Their dedication to their Christian faith pushes them to do all things well, whether that is in the classroom or on the field.

“The challenges of athletics, combined with the rigors of the classroom, can sometimes be overwhelming,” says Taylor’s athletic director Dr. Angie Fincannon. “But day after day I have witnessed many men and women in Taylor University’s intercollegiate athletic program learn in the deepest way what selflessness and work ethic really entails. Countless student athletes have said to me, ‘I didn’t know I could work that hard.’”