CULLOWHEE, N.C. - The Southern Conference released its academic honor roll for the 2015-16 academic year with 177 Western Carolina University student-athletes being honored.
All told, 1,964 student-athletes from the 10 member institutions and 10 associate members earned the distinction.
Of the nearly 2,000 student-athletes on the list, 398 earned the Commissioner's Medal, awarded to student-athletes who attain a GPA of 3.8 or higher throughout the year. That standard is up from 3.5 in previous years.
Fifty-five WCU student-athletes earned the Commissioner's Medal, while 27 Catamounts held a perfect 4.0 GPA in the 2015-16 academic year: Dylan Biumi (baseball), Rhett Harrelson (men's basketball), Madison Armstrong (softball), Kassandra Flores (softball), Amber Kimrey (softball), Kara Salvo (softball), Taylor Sigmon (softball), Kaycey Cermin (volleyball/track and field), Nicole Ford (volleyball), Cristina Nazario (volleyball), Jo-Leigh VerVelde (volleyball), Laney Browder (women's cross country/track & field), Emma Hand (women's cross country/track & field), Sheridan Caudle (women's soccer), Kasey Cooke (women's soccer), Alexa Frankeny (women's soccer), Megan Joyner (women's soccer), Amy Owens (women's soccer), Brianna Sears (women's soccer), Taylor Webb (women's soccer), Savannah Taranto (women's tennis), Stacia Kissell (women's tennis), Erin Maguire (women's tennis), Megan McLinden (women's tennis), Korie Bennett (women's track & field), Kendra Henry (women's track & field) and Erin West (women's track & field).
The academic honor roll originated in 1988-89, when SoCon athletic directors established the award as a way to recognize the league's outstanding student-athletes. The academic honor roll consists of student-athletes who participated in varsity sports and posted a 3.0 grade point average or higher, were eligible the entire academic year and were members of the final squad lists.
A league-record 146 student-athletes boasted perfect 4.0 GPAs in 2015-16, easily surpassing the previous standard of 122 set last year. Each of the league's full members had at least two student-athletes with 4.0 GPAs, led by Western Carolina with 27 and Mercer with 26.
Mercer paced the league with 296 members of the honor roll, while Wofford was second with 206 and ETSU was third with 202. Each of the SoCon's 10 full members had at least 108 student-athletes on the list.
Football boasted the most student-athletes on the list with 318, followed by women's soccer with 201 and baseball with 178. The honor roll includes all 20 SoCon-sponsored sports as well as the non-sponsored sports of women's lacrosse, swimming and diving, water polo, beach volleyball and rifle. League schools who sponsor swimming are members of the Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association.