Vanderbilt senior Jake Van Geffen has been awarded a scholarship by the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship Committee. He is one of just 58 student-athletes selected from a national list of nominees for the prestigious award.
"In my eleven years at Vanderbilt, I would say Jake most embodies the traits of a true student-athlete," said Steve Keith, the head coach of Vanderbilt's cross country and track and field programs. "Jake has worked very hard in his studies and running so this is a great reward."
The NCAA awards a one-time, non-renewable educational grant to 58 student-athletes — 29 men and 29 women — who competed in fall sports.
To qualify for the scholarship, a student-athlete must be nominated by his or her athletic department, have an overall grade point average of 3.2 (on a 4.0 scale) or its equivalent, and must have performed with distinction as a member of the varsity team in the sport in which the student-athlete was nominated. The student-athlete also "must have behaved, both on and off the field, in a manner that has brought credit to the student-athlete, the institution and intercollegiate athletics," according to the NCAA's criteria.
Van Geffen was a star in the classroom and on the cross country course for the Commodores. The Civil Engineering major has a 3.919 GPA and he was Vanderbilt's top finisher in five of the team's six races this season. He finished 19th overall at the Belmont Opener and finished 50th at the NCAA South Regional while helping the Commodores to a 16th place overall finish -- their best showing since 2010.
"Distance running and cross country naturally attracts good students -- it's something about the discipline and dedication needed to log in 70-plus mile weeks -- but I will say that Jake has proven himself to be one of those special few individuals who excel at all aspects of their training, racing and academics," said Keith.
The NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship was created in 1964 to promote and encourage graduate education by rewarding the Association's most accomplished student-athletes through their participation in NCAA championship and/or emerging sports.
Athletics and academic achievements, campus involvement, community service, volunteer activities and demonstrated leadership are evaluated. An equitable approach is employed in reviewing an applicant's nomination form to provide all student-athlete nominees an opportunity to receive the graduate award, regardless of sport, division, gender or race. In maintaining the highest broad-based standards in the selection process, the program aims to reward those individuals whose dedication and effort are reflective of those characteristics necessary to succeed and thrive through graduate study.