Special Commencement honors student-athletes heading into tournaments
“This is a celebration of greatness,” Bryant University President Ronald K. Machtley told 17 graduating student-athletes from four teams at a special Commencement ceremony held May 12. The student-athletes are not able to participate in the University’s undergraduate Commencement ceremony on May 17 because they will be deep in tournament play.
In only its second year of full Division I eligibility, so far this spring Bryant has captured five Northeast Conference Championship titles (golf, men’s lacrosse, women’s lacrosse, softball, and men’s tennis), with the baseball conference tournament starting May 22 nd . The defending conference champion Bulldogs are currently in first place in the NEC standings and are 32 nd nationally in the latest RPI poll. No NEC school has won six spring conference championships, but the possibility has led many Bulldog fan to refer to Bryant as #TitleTown.
#TitleTown just got a little more populated today with MTEN, MLAX, WLAX, GOLF, and now SOFT. We've still got room for one Baseball team left— Bryant Athletics (@BryantAthletics) May 10, 2014
Adding to the excitement, wide receiver Jordan Harris ’14 (Lincoln University, PA) became the first Bryant football player to sign a professional contract when he inked a deal with the Indianapolis Colts.
The four teams represented at the special ceremony were:
- Men’s lacrosse, which faces Maryland in the NCAA Quarterfinals in Hempstead, NY, May 17. The Bulldogs topped second-seed Syracuse, 10-9 May 11 the Carrier Dome;
- Women’s softball, which will be in Norman, OK, to play Oklahoma May 16. On May 10, the team earned its first-ever Northeast Conference Championship;
- Men’s golf, which will be in Columbia, MO, May 17-18 playing in the NCAA tournament. This is the golf team’s first appearance in the NCAA tournament.
- Ultimate Frisbee, a club sport, which plays May 17-18 in the Division III College Championships in Westerville, OH.
“This celebrates extraordinary students who do extraordinary things both as athletes on the fields of play and as students seeking intellectual growth,” Machtley told the graduates, proud parents, coaches and teammates.
The president pointed out that Bryant student-athletes also excel in the classroom:
- 10 teams have a GPA equal to or above the average Bryant student GPA of 3.03;
- 38 percent of student-athletes were on Dean’s List;
- 7 women student-athletes and 2 men student-athletes had a perfect 4.0 GPA in fall 2013;
- 95 percent of student-athletes graduate in four years.
Among those receiving his diploma during the special Commencement was lacrosse goalie Niko Dutra (Danville, CA), recipient of this year's Male Senior Scholar-Athlete award. Dutra is an accounting major who is minoring in economics and computer information systems.
“We’re all student-athletes here,” Dutra says. “After practice, our team usually goes straight to the library. You approach your studies and school work just as you do with practice.”