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June 14, 2011

Tech excels in latest NCAA APR

By: Jimmy Robertson

Virginia Tech’s athletics teams put together an impressive performance in the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate (APR) program, according to the recent data released by the NCAA.

The APR is a scorecard that tracks classroom performance of Division I sports teams, and it takes into account eligibility and retention of student-athletes over a four-year period. The most recent APR scores are multi-year rates based on the scores from the 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10 academic years.

Tech’s combined four-year rate of 981 is 11 points better than the national average of 970. An APR score of 925 or higher is what teams first look to meet to avoid immediate penalties (involving the possible loss of grants-in-aid).

Three Tech programs finished at perfect 1,000 scores – men’s tennis, men’s cross country and golf. The men’s cross country team has scored 1,000 for three straight years, while the golf squad has scored 1,000 for the second straight season.

The Tech football program scored a 955 – nine points higher than the national average. Also, the men’s basketball program came in at 985, 40 points higher than the national average and tied for second among ACC schools with North Carolina and NC State (behind Duke).

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Williams, Odom no longer with football program

Lorenzo Williams and Quillie Odom informed Tech’s football coaching staff that they do not anticipate returning to the program – though both plan on continuing coursework toward their degrees.

Williams, a whip linebacker who would have been a redshirt junior, missed all of last season with a foot injury (Lisfranc sprain) and has been hampered by injuries throughout his career. He recorded six tackles in 2008 as a true freshman, but redshirted in 2009 and then missed last year.

Odom, who also would have been a redshirt junior, played sparingly in his career, recording six tackles. He missed last season while redshirting.

Greenberg names assistant coach

Tech men’s basketball coach Seth Greenberg named former Maryland assistant Robert Ehsan as an assistant coach, filling the spot vacated when Adrian Autry took an assistant’s job at Syracuse.

Ehsan spent six seasons at Maryland under recently retired coach Gary Williams and has many ties to the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore areas – where Tech has recruited successfully in the past. He played four seasons at the University of California-Davis.

“Robert Ehsan is a perfect fit for our basketball staff,” Greenberg said. “He has excellent ties to the DC/Baltimore area, as well as nationally. He has tremendous enthusiasm and passion for teaching the game of basketball and has an uncanny ability to connect with young people.”

In other basketball news, Manny Atkins, a small forward, has decided to transfer to Georgia State, where he hopes to be more of a focal point. Atkins, who would have been a rising junior and a potential starter next season, played in 33 games this past season, averaging 4.9 points and two rebounds per game.

Atkins averaged 3.8 points and 1.7 rebounds for his career at Virginia Tech, playing in 56 games and making one start in his freshman season.

Former Sun Bowl standout passes

Oren Hopkins, who played on the Hokies’ 1947 Sun Bowl team – the first Tech team ever to play in a bowl game – passed away in Easton, Md., on May 8 at the age of 86. He had been dealing with health issues related to his kidneys.

Hopkins, a Norfolk, Va., native, fought in World War II under General George Patton as part of Patton’s Third Army and participated in the famous “Battle of the Bulge” in Europe. After the war, he attended Virginia Tech and graduated in 1950 with a degree in industrial engineering. An end, he played football and won the 1949 Williams Award, then the top honor handed out by the Virginia Tech athletics department.

He worked for several companies and then founded his own company in 1985. After retirement, he and his wife, Marian, traveled the world, going to places like Antarctica, Egypt, China, the Galapagos Islands, the Middle East and Africa.

Hopkins remained close to Tech. He served on the Board of Directors for the Virginia Tech Alumni Association and was a member of the Ut Prosim Society and the College of Engineering’s Committee of 100. He also came back to Tech in April of 2009 for a Sun Bowl team reunion, and at the time, was one of just 19 members remaining from that team.