Orlando, Fla. – Western Carolina football was honored by the Football Championship Subdivision Athletic Directors Association (FCS ADA) as a recipient of the Academic Progress Rate (APR) Award for the Southern Conference. The Catamounts were among 26 NCAA FCS football programs to be recognized during the FCS ADA Luncheon sponsored by Borden Perlman Insurance Agency on Monday, June 10 in conjunction with the 2019 NACDA Convention at the World Center Marriott.

Western Carolina and Wofford shared the SoCon’s highest APR scores for 2017-18 cohort while Mercer was recognized as the program most improved over the same time frame.

“This is an absolutely terrific award and a tremendous honor for our football program. It is truly a team award – and that team includes our outstanding student-athlete academic support services staff and our academic counselors. We couldn’t have achieved what we have without their dedication and continued support,” said head football coach Mark Speir.

He added, “The academic production of our student-athletes and this award are direct results of Randy Eaton’s leadership and Anita Puerto’s, our Academic Enhancement Program Director for Football, labor of love for the academic success of our players. I am proud of our players and their drive to be the best they can be both on and off the field. The word ‘student-athlete’ is not lip service in the ‘Whee. I would put our graduates up against anybody’s!”

The FCS ADA APR Award recognizes one institution at each of the 13 FCS conferences that has the highest APR score – though two were honored from the SoCon this year. The Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) had two recognized as most improved in 2017-18.

In 2003, the NCAA member colleges and universities adopted a comprehensive academic reform package designed to improve the academic success and graduation of all student-athletes. The centerpiece of the package is the academic measurement for teams, known as the Academic Progress Rate (APR).

Western Carolina opens the 2019 football season on Saturday, August 31 as the Catamounts host the Mercer Bears in not only the season opener, but also the first SoCon game at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field. With a 6:00 pm kickoff, the home opener will also feature a postgame fireworks extravaganza, presented by Ingles and iHeartRadio partners, 99.9 FM Kiss Country and Star 104.3.

Season tickets for all six home dates in 2019 are on sale now through the Catamount Athletics Ticket Office, located on the first floor of the Ramsey Center, by phone at (800) 34-GOWCU, and online at CatamountSports.com.

Returning WCU Football season ticket holders must renew their season tickets by June 28, 2019, to lock-in their same seats from last year. The Catamount Club’s fiscal year deadlines for renewals is Sunday, June 30. Single-game tickets for individual home games are set to go on sale Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019.

About the FCS ADA: Now in its 25th year, the Football Championship Subdivision Athletics Directors Association's mission is to enhance Football Championship Subdivision football. For more information on the FCS ADA, please visit www.fcsada.com. The FCS ADA is administered by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), which is in its 54th year. For more information on NACDA and the 17 professional associations that fall under its umbrella, please visit www.nacda.com.

Keep track of everything related to Catamount football and WCU Athletics through its social media outlets on Facebook (fb.com/catamountsports) and Twitter (@catamounts, @WCU_FB), as well as video updates on the department's YouTube channel (CatamountSports).

Important Upcoming Dates in Catamount Athletics / Catamount Football:

Friday, June 28 – Catamount football season ticket renewal deadline

Sunday, June 30 – Catamount Club fiscal year renewal deadline

Thursday, August 1 -- Catamount Football Student-Athletes Report for fall camp

Friday, August 2 – First scheduled practice of 2019 preseason (helmet only)

Wednesday, August 7 – Catamount football single-game tickets go on-sale

Friday, August 16 – Western Carolina University Freshman Move-In Day

Monday, August 19 – First day of classes for the fall semester

Friday, August 30 – the 15th Annual Bob Waters Memorial golf tournament at the Waynesville Inn – Golf Resort & Spa

Saturday, August 31 -- 2019 Catamount Football season and home-opener vs. Mercer