TOWSON, Md. -- Devon Beitzel has been selected as just the second Academic All-American in Northern Colorado men's basketball history and the first in more than 40 years.
He was one of five NCAA student-athletes named Tuesday to the 2010-11 Capital One Academic All-America Men's Basketball First Team, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), and he joins former Bear Dennis Colson (1967) as the only two men's basketball players in school history to be considered in the national student-athlete elite.
Tim Scully was named to the Academic All-America Second team in 1973 and 1974, while Greg Brendel (1981) and Derek Chaney (1994) were Third Team selections, and Tony Hodges (1981) earned a Fourth Team spot.
Beitzel (Lafayette, Colo.), who was selected to the Academic All-America Third Team last season and to the Academic All-District 7 team in 2009, 2010 and 2011, is also one of 10 national finalists for this year's Lowe's Senior CLASS Award.
"I've coached college basketball for 15 years," Northern Colorado coach B.J. Hill says, "and Devon is in the top three of the toughest kids I've ever been around. He holds himself to such a high standard in everything he does -- and not just on the basketball court -- and that's what sets him apart. I tell everyone who will listen every day how fortunate I feel to be able to coach a kid like that."
To be eligible for academic all-America honors, a student-athlete must be a varsity starter or key reserve, maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.30 on a scale of 4.00, have reached sophomore athletic and academic standings at his/her current institution and be nominated by his/her sports information director.
Joining Beitzel on the 2010-11 First Team were Notre Dame's Tim Abromaitis, Butler's Matt Howard, Kansas' Tyrell Reed and North Carolina's Tyler Zeller. In addition to earning first-team honors, Howard was selected as the men's basketball Academic All-American of the Year.
Since the program's inception in 1952, CoSIDA has bestowed Academic All-America honors on more than 15,000 student-athletes in Divisions I, II, III and NAIA, covering all NCAA championship sports.
Beitzel, who scored a game-high 23 points in Northern Colorado's 87-69 home victory against North Dakota on Monday night, is the leading scorer in the Big Sky Conference this season at 20.3 points per game, and he's 10th in the nation with a .910 free throw percentage.
His 44 percent mark from three-point range last year ranked fourth in all of NCAA Division I.
He's a Finance and Accounting major with a 3.69 GPA in Northern Colorado's prestigious Monfort College of Business, and his leadership has guided the Bears from a program that finished dead-last in the RPI in 2006 (his redshirt season) to a school-record 25 victories in 2010 and a quarterfinal appearance in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT).
This season, Beitzel's play helped the Bears get off to a perfect 7-0 conference record for the first time since 1960 and, at with a 10-3 record in the Big Sky, has Northern Colorado in the running for its first NCAA Division I regular-season conference title.
Simply stated, Beitzel's accomplishments in Greeley are exemplary, but the hurdles he's cleared en route to today's announcement stand out even more.
Both of his natural parents battled drug addiction and related problems while he was a youth, and, while Beitzel was in middle and high school, both spent some time in halfway houses or prison. Beitzel finished his high school career in his hometown of Lafayette, Colo., after he was taken in by a local family.
He later graduated from Centaurus High with honors and as one of the best scorers in Colorado high school basketball history.
For more information about the Academic All-America Teams program, please visit www.cosida.com.