The Clarion University women’s basketball program was honored last week as a Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) NCAA Division II Academic Top 25 program.
Clarion’s team grade point average (GPA) during the 2007-2008 season was 3.420, the best among Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) schools and the 16th best in the nation in Division II. The Golden Eagles also had the third-best mark among Pennsylvania’s NCAA Division I and Division II schools and the seventh-best mark among all Pennsylvania colleges and universities.
“This is a great honor, and we are very proud of the caliber of student-athlete we recruit to Clarion,” Clarion’s head coach Margaret “Gie” Parsons, who is entering her 20th season at the school, said. “It takes a special type of person to be a highly successful student-athlete both on the court and in the classroom, and we are proud that as a university and as a basketball program we are able to attract those types of student-athletes to Clarion.”
Clarion’s academic accomplishments during the season included winning the Bob Carlson Academic Team Award for having the top team GPA at Clarion, having seven team members honored as Clarion “Scholar-Athletes” and seven honored as PSAC “Scholar-Athletes”. Also, senior point guard Ashley Grimm, who carried a 3.948 GPA in Biology/Pre-Med, was named a first-team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District winner (she was a 3rd-team selection in 2006) and a PSAC Winter Top 10 Award winner, the second consecutive year she was honored with the Winter Top 10 Award. Grimm’s academic accomplishments helped her earn an NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship, which she will put to use as the Graduate Assistant Coach at Clarion.
In addition to their academic accomplishments, the Golden Eagles also had one of the top seasons in school history in 2007-08 going 18-9 overall and 8-4 in the PSAC-West while qualifying for the PSAC Playoffs for the 10th time under Parsons and just missing a trip to the NCAA D-II playoffs for the seventh time. The 18 wins tied for the sixth most in school history, while Parsons was named the PSAC-West “Coach of the Year” for the second time in four years and for the fourth time in her career.
The season also saw many great individual accomplishments with Grimm becoming the school’s all-time leading assist giver (569) while also recording the school’s first triple-double in 15 years. She led the PSAC in assists per game for the second straight year while ranking 10th in the nation in helpers (6.33 per game). Two players – senior Jessica Albanese (1,244) and junior Katrina Greer (1,015) – topped the 1,000-career point mark giving the Golden Eagles 14 players with 1,000 career points including 11 who played at least a part of their career under Parsons, who is the all-time winningest coach in school history with a 19-year record of 288-238.
“I would like to say congratulations to each and every one of the teams who have earned this honor,” WBCA CEO Beth Bass said. “These numbers would be notable for one student-athlete alone, but for an entire team to compile overall GPAs such as this is truly remarkable. I tip my hat to these programs and wish continued success both on an off the court.”
GOLDEN EAGLE NOTES – Parsons is two wins shy of 400 in her career with a 27-year record, including eight at Thiel, of 398-311 … Clarion opens the 2008-09 season Nov. 15-16 when it hosts the Clarion Classic. The season opener will be Nov. 15 vs. Bowie State … Parsons guided Clarion to an unbelievable five-year ride from 1991-95 that including a 117-33 overall record, a 50-10 PSAC-West mark, five straight PSAC-West crowns, three PSAC Titles (1991, 93, 94), two NCAA D-II East Region titles (1991, 94), two trips to the NCAA D-II “Elite 8” (1991, 94) and a No. 2 ranking in NCAA D-II in 1993-94. Parsons success has continued over the last six years with the Golden Eagles playing 20 games above .500 during that time (92-72) including three trips to the PSAC Playoffs and a trip to the NCAA D-II Playoffs in 2005.