Dr. Sidney A. McPhee | January 10, 2014
MTSU became a full-fledged member of Conference USA last summer, following 13 years in the Sun Belt Conference. On September 21, the Blue Raiders enjoyed their first competition against a Conference USA opponent when the football team traveled to Florida Atlantic and defeated the Owls in overtime 42–35. I am very proud of the strong transition our teams, coaches, and staffers have made to this new level of competition!
- During the fall 2013 semester, nine of 15 teams had a semester GPA of 3.0 or higher; 85 student athletes made the Dean’s List (3.5+ GPA); and 27 had a perfect 4.0. Overall, 165 of 312 student-athletes had a 3.0 or higher (53 percent).
- For the fourth consecutive year, all 17 of Middle Tennessee’s athletic teams earned a multiyear Academic Progress Rate (APR) of over 930, according to the annual report released by the NCAA in June. Twelve of MTSU’s 17 sports reached their highest APR average since scoring began in 2004–05. Two teams—men’s golf and men’s cross-country—received NCAA Public Recognition Awards based on their rank in the top 10 percent in each sport.
- On November 4, MT Athletics, Sinclair Broadcasting, MTSU’s College of Mass Communication, and Nelligan Sports Marketing announced a partnership to broadcast an 11-game local television package consisting of one football game and 10 men’s and women’s basketball games. The entire 11-game production airs on MyTV 30 in Nashville, with the exception of one game that will be shown on CW 58. Students in the Electronic Mass Communication department will once again produce and direct all the broadcasts.
- Head track and field coach Dean Hayes recently received the United States Track and Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association’s Jimmy Carnes Distinguished Service Award, which is presented to those who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in their service to the association and to the sports of cross-country and track and field.
- The Blue Raider football squad went 6–2 in league play and tied for second in the C-USA East Division on its way to accepting a bid to the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl against Navy. Seventeen student-athletes played in the game (in Fort Worth, Texas) with a degree in hand. That total tied for fifth most nationally.
- The Blue Raider women’s basketball team hosted the number-four ranked University of Tennessee squad in November, drawing a Murphy Center crowd of 11,227—the second largest in history. In December, the Blue Raiders also drew 10,028 attendees to the Murfreesboro City Schools Education Day game against Kennesaw State.
- Conference USA announced the fall recipients of the league’s Spirit of Service Award, and sophomore soccer goalkeeper Kelsey Brouwer was among the 16 honorees. Brouwer logged 42 hours of community service during the summer and fall semester, volunteering at Hobgood Elementary School and coaching a youth soccer team. Brouwer has also donated her time with Habitat for Humanity and Grace Works Food Bank and helped with wetland reserve cleanup at Garrison Creek. She has also worked with the Rutherford Country Special Olympics. The Franklin native maintains a 3.919 cumulative GPA while majoring in business and minoring in economics and finance. She was named to the Conference USA All-Academic second team this fall and helped the Blue Raiders pick up their 12th consecutive National Soccer Coaches Association of America Team Academic Award. Brouwer’s high marks in the classroom helped MTSU post a 3.62 cumulative team GPA.
- Volleyball’s Tyler Richardson garnered AVCA Honorable Mention All-America honors at the annual AVCA Convention in December. Richardson was also named to the AVCA South All-Region team and the All-Conference USA First Team. Richardson ranked 12th nationally in hitting percentage at .414 in 2013.
Freshman Steven Rhodes joined the football program following five years of service in the U.S. Marines last August. After he enrolled, the NCAA declared that he had only two years of eligibility and would have to sit out the 2013 season since he played recreational football as a Marine for two years. The story made the national news, which led quickly to an NCAA decision allowing Rhodes to play immediately (and maintain four years of eligibility). Rhodes played in all 13 games and had 10 tackles.
- Men’s golf opened its season last fall at the Carpet Capital Collegiate, finishing ahead of preseason top-25 teams Texas, South Carolina, and North Florida. MTSU ended the fall season at the 2013 Warrior Princeville Makai Invitational in Hawaii, finishing ahead of 15th-ranked Baylor and 42nd-ranked ETSU, tallying a 19-under score of 845, the fifth best 54-hole total in school history.
- Avery George of the women’s golf team earned Conference USA Golfer of the Week honors on Oct. 9. George was the only player in the 90-person field at the Lady Pirate Intercollegiate to shoot under par, posting a winning score of 215 for one-under par at the 6,004-yard, par 72 Greenville Country Club course.
- The men’s tennis team was ranked 50th in the nation in the preseason ITA poll announced Jan. 3. Sophomore David Fox was in both the national singles and doubles ranks as he prepares for his second season as a Blue Raider. A native of the United Kingdom, he is ranked 98th in the nation in singles competition and 22nd when teamed with fellow sophomore Victor Cornea in doubles.
- Ground was broken Oct. 28 on a new indoor tennis facility at Old Fort Park that will greatly enhance MTSU’s tennis program and provide greater opportunities for the burgeoning local tennis community. The $3.7 million structure will feature eight indoor courts, an electronic scoreboard, a pro shop, locker rooms, a lounge area, and meeting area. The facility will be open to the general public and serve as the home of the Blue Raider men’s and women’s tennis programs. The project is part of the University’s $80 million Centennial Campaign announced in 2012. The state-of-the-art building is expected to be ready by fall 2014.
- Middle Tennessee was one of just 12 programs nationally to go to a football bowl game and compete in both the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments during the 2013 calendar year. Joining the Blue Raiders were North Carolina, Duke, Louisville, Miami (Florida), Michigan, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Notre Dame, UCLA, and Syracuse.