The Battle Plan

Jan. 15, 2014

We enter 2014 at full speed! January is the start of the busiest time of the year in collegiate athletics. At this point on the calendar, we have completed seasons in four sports (football, cross country, volleyball and soccer) so there are 13 more teams that are in play wearing the crimson and white from now until the month of June. So there's plenty of work to be done, games to be played and titles to be won.

The 2013 calendar year was an excellent one for Alabama Athletics. One of our primary goals is to see our teams compete at the highest levels in intercollegiate athletics. That means making it to post season play and competing for championships. In 2013, 14 of our 17 teams met that standard while all of our teams had individual student-athletes earn recognition of some sort for their performances.

From academics to competition to facilities, here's a review of the 2013 calendar year.

2013 Academics Highlights

We enjoyed a stellar fall semester in the classroom. A total of 545 student-athletes posted a total combined grade-point average of 3.196 for the semester - the highest GPA for a semester in school history. Fifteen of our 17 teams posted GPAs above 3.0 and two teams (women's soccer and women's tennis) had GPAs above 3.8. Our men's teams combined for a 2.97 GPA while our women's teams earned a GPA of 3.452 for the semester.

The University of Alabama's enrollment reached a record high 34,852 students for the fall semester. Total enrollment was up 3.7 percent, an increase of 1,250 students over fall 2012, including 29,443 undergraduates and 5,409 graduate and first professional students. The freshman class totaled 6,478 students, including 1,768 students who had a 4.0 or higher GPA in high school and 1,741 students who scored in the top 5 percent on the ACT. The average ACT score for the class was 25.8, the highest in UA history.

More than 130 student-athletes earned their degrees during the 2012-13 academic year. Through the 2013 spring semester, Alabama graduated 70 percent of its student-athletes while the general student population graduated at a rate of 67 percent.

All of our teams scored well above the national cutoff standard of 930 in the Academic Progress Rate (APR) the NCAA released in June. Sixteen teams posted scores that matched or exceeded the national Division I average in their respective sports for the four-year period extending from the 2008-09 through 2011-12 school years. A school-best total of five teams (football, men's golf, women's golf, women's tennis and men's basketball) had APR scores that ranked in the top 10 nationally. The football and the men's basketball teams posted the highest APR scores in the Southeastern Conference. Alabama and Duke were the only NCAA Division I schools in the country to have both their football and men's basketball teams rank in the upper 10th percentile in their sport. The men's golf, women's golf and women's tennis teams all scored a perfect 1,000 for their four-year score while men's basketball posted a 995. Those four teams were joined by softball (990), gymnastics (991) and men's tennis (993) among UA programs with scores of 990 or above.

Alabama's Graduation Success Rate (GSR) score rose to an 86 in 2013, once again exceeding acceptable standards for completion of undergraduate studies nationally for the period covering student-athletes who attended the University during 2003-06, according to figures released in October by the NCAA. Seven of our 16 athletics programs in existence from 2003-06 achieved perfect scores of 100 (women's golf, soccer, softball, tennis, volleyball, men's golf and men's swimming & diving). We tied with Vanderbilt as the program with the most teams in the SEC with a perfect 100. Overall, nine of our teams recorded a GSR score of at least 90 and 12 were over 80.

Alabama's 53 percent graduation rate for African-American male student-athletes ranked second (behind only Stanford) nationally. Overall, 15 of the 28 graduated football student-athletes that suited up for us in the Allstate Sugar Bowl were African-American. The 28 graduates suiting up for the Sugar Bowl set a BCS record and 2 of the 28 earned Master's degrees.

Our softball team was recognized for leading the nation in team grade-point average for the 2012-13 academic year in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association's (NFCA) Top 10 All-Academic Team Rankings.

The volleyball team earned the American Volleyball Coaches Association Team Academic Award. The Crimson Tide had a cumulative team grade-point average of 3.39 for the 2012-13 academic year.

In May, graduated football player Barrett Jones was named the 2012-13 SEC H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Seven student-athletes from spring sports teams earned Academic All-America honors: Kayla Braud (softball), Kaila Hunt (softball), Kim Jacob (Gymnastics), Stephanie Meadow (women's golf), Toni Foehse (women's tennis), Cory Whitsett (men's golf) and Alexis Paine (women's track & field).

Five student-athletes earned NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships: Ashley Priess (gymnastics), Ashley Sledge (gymnastics), Kayla Braud (softball), Toni Foehse (women's tennis) and Alexis Paine (women's track & field).

Three student-athletes earned the NCAA's prestigious Elite 89 Award: Kim Jacob (gymnastics), Emily Zabor (women's tennis) and Cory Whitsett (men's golf). Alabama has nine Elite 89 Awards since the inception of the honor in 2010, which ranks second nationally (Stanford, 11).

An SEC-record six student-athletes were named SEC Scholar-Athletes of the Year for their respective sports: Barrett Jones (football), Kim Jacob (gymnastics), Daniil Proskura (men's tennis), Toni Foehse (women's tennis), Cory Whitsett (men's golf) and Stephanie Meadow (women's golf).

2013 Athletics Review

Baseball

The Tide baseball team made the NCAA Tournament as an at-large selection, making the 23rd appearance in the event in school history. It was the Tide's fifth NCAA berth in the last six years, and the third in four seasons under head coach Mitch Gaspard.

Men's Basketball

The men's basketball team earned a third consecutive postseason berth, reaching the quarterfinals of the National Invitation Tournament. We finished tied for second in the SEC - the second time in Coach Anthony Grant's four seasons that Alabama has finished in second place in the league standings. The 23 wins during the season marked the third consecutive 20-win season under Coach Grant. The last time Alabama had three consecutive seasons with 20 or more wins came in 1990-92. Our winning record in the SEC marked the third straight in conference play, the first time since the 1994-96 seasons that we have finished over .500 in the SEC in three consecutive seasons. Heading into this season, we had 33 SEC wins in the last three years combined, which was third in the league behind only Florida (37) and Kentucky (38). Going into our game with Mississippi State this week, the Tide is 24-2 in SEC home games and currently boasts the longest home-court winning streak in conference play of 13.

Women's Basketball

In May, we introduced Kristy Curry as the Crimson Tide's head women's basketball coach. Coach Curry's team has shown toughness and resilience this season and has already notched its first SEC victory, a 93-79 win over Ole Miss last Sunday at Foster Auditorium in which we scored our most points against an SEC team since 1999. Coach Curry joined us after seven seasons as head coach at Texas Tech which followed seven years as Purdue's head coach.

Men's Golf

The men's golf team reached the pinnacle of collegiate golf, winning their first NCAA championship. The Tide also won the SEC title and the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional. The Tide set a school record for team victories in a season with eight (12 events) while winning the final six tournaments of the year and seven of eight during the spring schedule. The team produced four All-Americans, including three first-team honorees in Bobby Wyatt, Cory Whitsett and Justin Thomas, while Trey Mullinax was honorable mention. The men's golf title was Alabama's eighth team national championship over the last four years.

Women's Golf

For the second time in school history, the women's golf team captured the SEC championship. Stephanie Meadow won the individual title, becoming the first Alabama women's golfer to earn medalist honors at the SEC Championship. Head Coach Mic Potter won his 13th conference Coach of the Year award and his fifth in the SEC after leading the Crimson Tide to the program's second SEC championship and second NCAA Regional title.

Gymnastics

After taking third at the NCAA Championships, Alabama has finished in the top three at the NCAA meet 22 times, more than any other school. The Tide also leads the nation in NCAA Championship Super Six Team Finals appearances with 19 and is one of just six teams in the nation to advance to the national championships each of the last five years. With the season-opening win over Missouri last Friday night, we are riding a 40-0-0 home winning streak dating back to the 2009 season.

Cross Country

Our women's cross country team posted its highest NCAA South Region finish in 27 years at the NCAA South Region Championships in November. Sophomores Katelyn Greenleaf and Meropi Panagiotou earned all-Region honors as the Tide took third in the women's team standings after a strong sixth-place showing at the SEC Women's Championships. The Tide men's team showed improvement in 2013, placing 11th at the SEC meet and 13th at the NCAA South Region meet.

Indoor Track & Field

Head Coach Dan Waters' improving team produced five first-team All-Americans. On the season, the Tide set two school records and had 33 performances that rank in the all-time top 10 at Alabama. The squad recorded 11 performances that ranked in the top 50 nationally.

Outdoor Track & Field

Fifteen student-athletes earned All-American that included sprints, throws, jumps and relays. The men's team finished 11th at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, marking its first top-15 finish since 2002, when the Tide also finished 11th. The Tide men finished sixth at the SEC Championships, its highest finish since also taking sixth in 2006. The Tide took second in the NCAA Outdoor Championships' 4x100-meter relay, just one-hundredth of a second out of first place. After shattering the 23-year-old school record in the semis of the 4x100 relay, the Tide smashed that new mark in finals with a 38.54.

Rowing

The rowing team completed its seventh season as an NCAA Division I program, the Tide's fourth season as an affiliate member of Conference USA. Team captain Tabitha Coleman was honored as a member of the 2013 All-Conference USA Team.

Soccer

A highlight of an otherwise tough year was the play of junior Pia Rijsdijk, who was selected to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-South Region Third Team. She led the team in goals, points and game-winning goals and was second on the team in assists, shots and shots on goal.

Softball

Our softball team finished with 45 or more wins for the 14th straight season and made its 15th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and hosted an NCAA Regional for the ninth consecutive year and 11th time overall. Alabama also claimed its ninth straight NCAA regional title and 11th overall at the Tuscaloosa Regional. The Tide advanced to its ninth straight NCAA super regional, the only team to advance to the round of 16 every year since its inception in 2005.

Swimming & Diving

The men's swimming and diving team finished 10th at the 2013 SEC Championships and earned a 28th place finish at the NCAA Championships. The Tide women's team finished 10th at the SEC meet. More than 75 percent of the Crimson Tide's swims in the 2012-13 postseason resulted in career-best times. There were also three new school records - BJ Hornikel (100 freestyle), Jenna Gallo (1,650 freestyle) and Emma Saunders (200 freestyle).

Men's Tennis

First-year head coach George Husack had an impressive debut season with the Tide in 2013 as his team qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010, ending the season ranked 34th nationally by the ITA. Jarryd Botha was selected to compete in both the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships, becoming the first player to represent the Tide in both tournaments in the same season since 2000.

Women's Tennis

Head Coach Jenny Mainz earned National Coach of the Year honors while leading the Tide women to their finest season ever. We finished the season with a 21-6 overall record, while posting a 10-3 mark in the SEC, the most conference wins in a season since 1984. The Tide advanced to the NCAA Championship Round of 16 for the first time in program history.

Volleyball

The volleyball team finished the 2013 season with a 24-10 overall record, matching the school record for the most wins as an NCAA team, tying the 1995 squad. Third-year head coach Ed Allen guided his squad to the NCAA Tournament for just the fourth time in program history (and first since 2007), after guiding the Tide to a fourth place SEC finish. Coach Allen was named the AVCA South Region Coach of the Year.

Facilities

Facilities are the life's blood of any athletics program. We are proud to provide our student-athletes, coaches and staff with high-quality facilities in which to train, study and compete. The task of building and maintaining those facilities is a never-ending process. We completed work on several major facilities projects in 2013. Here's a closer look at those facilities:

Sam Bailey Track and Field Stadium

The track and field facility was rebuilt from the ground up prior to the 2013 season, utilizing every inch of the facility to give Alabama athletes everything they need to be successful at the highest level. The new design and layout ensures that the complex is one of the premier facilities in the nation. The $4.5 million project has transformed the facility into a viable venue for hosting meets of all sorts, from the high school level all the way up to international events. It has paid immediate dividends in our ability to recruit the best prospects, as the track team's recent improvement has shown. We dedicated the facility on March 22, 2013.

Sarah Patterson Champions Plaza

The Sarah Patterson Champions Plaza honors the Crimson Tide's national champion coaches for all sports outside of football. It also features marble slabs highlighting all of the Tide's varsity sports besides football, including a listing of all the Tide's NCAA and Southeastern Conference titles. The plaza fulfills one of Mal Moore's most meaningful legacies. Named for the Crimson Tide gymnastics coach who has won six NCAA titles during her 36-year career at the University, the plaza also honors NCAA Champion coaches Mic Potter (women's golf), Patrick Murphy (softball) and Jay Seawell (men's golf) and features historical recognition of the accomplishments of all of Alabama's sports other than football.

Strength & Conditioning Complex

In the summer of 2013, we opened a new strength & conditioning facility adjacent to the Mal Moore Athletic Complex. The 34,000 square foot facility is designed to help all Crimson Tide teams in training and nutrition. This facility serves as more than strictly a strength and conditioning complex - it also houses new team meeting rooms, nutrition areas and recreational options that have been vital to the team-building experience for all of our athletics teams.

Sewell-Thomas Stadium Project

In November, The University of Alabama Board of Trustees revealed the first set of renderings depicting a complete reconstruction of Alabama's Sewell-Thomas Baseball Stadium, just two months after green lighting the $30 million project rebuild and enhance the complex. The project is expected to give the complex a complete face-lift. Our baseball team will enjoy all new facilities, including a new locker room, weight room, bullpen and four new batting cages. For fans, the new stadium will include new skyboxes, a student section, club lounges, new seating and a concourse with food kiosks and concessions. Construction is slated to begin at the end of the 2014 baseball season.

Rowing Boathouse Project

Construction began in the fall of 2013 on a state-of-the-art boathouse on the west side of Manderson Landing. The 11,163-square-foot facility will include storage space for the team's equipment and will be coupled with brand-new facilities at the Presidential Village, housed within the University's new student center. The Presidential Village, which overlooks the Black Warrior River, will have new locker rooms, a student-athlete lounge, athletic training facilities, coaches' offices and an ergometer suite that overlooks the Black Warrior River. Both facilities are slated to open in the fall of 2014.

We enter 2014 confident that we can build on the successes of the past, and eager to face the challenges that await us. But we need the support and help of all those in our extended Crimson Tide family to make all of our programs successful at the highest level nationally.

Let's keep the Tide rising in 2014!

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