Move over Rice, there is a new academic giant in Conference USA.
For the first time in six years, Rice University was unseated as the conference's university with the highest grade point average among student athletes. The institution to do it was Tulsa.
The Golden Hurricane garnered a cumulative 3.121 GPA to earn arguably Conference USA's most prestigious award. The award is given to the C-USA institution with the highest GPA during the 2011-12 academic year for all student-athletes in conference-sponsored sports.
It is the first time TU has won the Conference USA Institutional Excellence Award since joining the league.
"This is an outstanding accomplishment by our student-athletes," athletics director Ross Parmley said in a press release. "The success on the playing field with winning eight conference championships during the 2011-12 academic year, and now adding this most prestigious academic award reconfirms our athletic mission. Our student-athletes not only have an opportunity to compete at the highest level while making progress toward their degree, but they are accomplishing these goals emphatically with winning championships and achieving high marks in the classroom.
"I congratulate our student-athletes, coaches and our academic services staff for their tremendous efforts in reaching this notable achievement."
In addition to winning the Institutional Excellence Award, one Tulsa team received the Sport Academic Award, which is given to the team in each conference-sponsored sport with the highest GPA for the academic year.
In just the third year that C-USA has recognized rowing as a conference sport, the Golden Hurricane women's rowing team earned the sport academic award for the second time in those three years. TU's rowing team posted an overall 3.343 GPA in 2011-12.
Since joining Conference USA in 2005, Tulsa has won the sport academic award on 13 occasions.