CEDAR CITY, Utah - March 30 - Southern Utah University took time to honor the academic achievement of its 17 NCAA Division-I athletic teams on Wednesday afternoon in the annual Thunderbird Scholar Award Banquet.  Awards were given for T-Bird Scholars, Top T-Birds, highest team GPA and the top Male and Female Scholar of the year.

A total of 99 student-athletes were honored as T-Bird Scholars, carrying a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or better through the 2010 fall semester.  Women's track & field/cross country led the way with 21 honorees and were followed by gymnastics with 12, men's track & field/cross country and football with 11, baseball with nine, volleyball and softball with seven, women's soccer with six, men's basketball with four, men's and women's golf and women's basketball with three and women's tennis with two.

The Top T-Bird Award was given to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative GPA on each given sport.  The following were honored with the award:
Caitlin Kennedy, gymnastics
Michelle Judd, soccer
Sami Parry, softball
Kirrily Burden, tennis
Eric Sandall, men's track
Whitney Curtis, women's track
Caitlin Jensen, volleyball
Micah Keeno, baseball
Jadie Parsons, women's basketball
Zach Olsen, football
Jamie Coking, women's golf
Jeff Evans, men's golf
Jake Nielson, men's basketball

The Highest Team GPA award went to the women's gymnastics team for the third consecutive year as the team carried a 3.61 cumulative GPA.  However, the women's cross country team finished just behind with a 3.53 cumulative GPA.

The final award of the afternoon was the Top Male and Female Scholar Award which was given to the top individual who carries the highest GPA and is at least a junior in academic standing.  The recipients included Zach Olsen of the football team, Caitlin Jensen of the volleyball team and Caitlin Kennedy of the gymnastics team.  Both Kennedy and Jensen carry a perfect 4.0 in physical education and biology, respectively with Olsen carrying a 3.95 in accounting.

In all during the 2010 academic year, Southern Utah had 371 student-athletes on record with an average cumulative GPA of 3.12 among the group.  More than 61 percent of the total body of student-athletes carry a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better with 137 of those carrying a cumulative GPA of a 3.5 or better.